Vacation, warmth, time with family, vitamin D; these are just a few things that come to mind when we think of summer.

It’s one of the most beautiful times of the year here in the inland northwest and we are blessed with an abundance of outdoor activities, farmers markets, and beautiful weather for several amazing months out of the year. With the anticipation and arrival of summer, it’s no wonder we forget to think about the down side of one of the best seasons on the west coast. Sun-kissed skin slathered in sunscreen, chemical-laden bug repellents and the like are more and more a cause for concern, as they are generally loaded with hundreds of toxic ingredients, linked with a variety of health problems. With the rate of melanoma being exponentially high in places like Queensland, Australia, where the medical field has vigorously promoted the use of sunscreens, it’s no wonder medical experts are looking to these ingredients for answers as to why, after decades of promoting sunscreen, skin cancer (and other cancers and diseases) are on the rise.
A new study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reveals that 97% of Americans are contaminated with a widely-used sunscreen ingredient called oxybenzone; linked to allergies, hormone disruption, and cell damage. Oxybenzone is also a penetration enhancer, an unnatural element that helps other chemicals penetrate the skin (so your skin doesn’t turn white from the oxides). This is just one of the many ingredients to avoid when it comes to choosing a safe sunscreen.  Nano particulates of titanium dioxide and other oxides are also widely used in sunscreen, and when combined with a penetration enhancing ingredient such as Oxybenzone, the blood stream gets a hefty dose of a multitude of chemicals. To escape these and other toxins, try making your own sunscreen with the recipe below, or visit the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) website (ewg.org), for a thorough listing of different brands of sun care products along with those to buy, and those to avoid. They also have a sunscreen shopping guide app available for smart phones!
Another no-no, when it comes to summer body products is bug repellent. According to greenyour.com—an online go-to guide for green living– “One of the most widely used ingredients in store-bought conventional bug sprays for personal use is N,N-Diethyl-m-toluamide, or DEET, as it’s commonly known. DEET, which is designed to repel, rather than kill, insects. DEET is used by an estimated one-third of the US population each year. Although DEET is approved by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), it is a known eye irritant and can cause rashes, soreness, or blistering when applied to the skin. Additionally, DEET has been linked to neurological problems; according to the EPA, at least 18 different cases of children suffering adverse neurological effects, as well as the deaths of two adults, have been associated with DEET. Researchers at Duke University Medical Center have found that DEET causes diffuse brain cell death and behavioral changes in rats.”
So, the next time you reach for the bug spray–or sunscreen–consider making your own or search for a natural brand that will keep you safe as you enjoy the great outdoors.

Healthy Homemade Sunscreen

½ cup Almond, Sunflower or Olive Oil
¼ cup coconut oil
¼ cup Beeswax
2 Tablespoons of non-nano Zinc Oxide powder (It is safe and not absorbed into your blood stream) It may be ordered on line for about $6.00 per pound and will last many seasons.
Place oil in a jar and sit in a small pan with couple inches of water. Cook over low heat until melted. Remove from stove and then add the zinc oxide powder, being careful not to create dust, and, if needed, you may wear a dust mask while doing so. You will want to stir it a few times as the oil cools as to make a nicely distributed mix.  This sunscreen mix should  be reapplied after a swim but only use it when needed as we all need to take advantage of the sun’s beneficial rays and the creation of cancer fighting vitamin D our bodies so desperately need.

Healthy Homemade Bug Repellent

Fill spray bottle (I used 8 ounce) 1/2 full with distilled or filtered water
Add witch hazel to fill almost to the top
Add 1/2 tsp vegetable glycerin (optional)
 Add 30-50 drops of essential oils to desired scent. The more oils you use, the stronger the spray will be. My personal favorite mix is: Rosemary, Clove, Cajuput, Lavender, Cinnamon and Eucalyptus… it works great and smells good, too!
*Recipes shared from wellnessmama.com, a website devoted to health, home and family.