This post was originally written in 2019, and was updated July 2020.
Everyone lets loose a little in the summer. Long weekends, picnics, days at the beach, vacations, fun drinks and bbqs under the summer sun are good for the soul, but maybe not as much for the complexion. Here are some quick and easy tips to keep your complexion glowing while you’re livin’ easy.
Summer Beauty Guide: 10 Tips for beautiful skin all summer long.
You’ll be spending more time in the beauty of the outdoors, exposing your skin to sun, wind, water, possibly chlorine, and maybe a more rigorous shaving routine than you applied this winter. All this can leave you with an irritated complexion. With just a little time and planning, you can avoid the pitfalls of sun, razor, and wind burn.
1. Stay Hydrated
With warmer weather (eventually) upon us, you need to stay on top of proper hydration. You can become dehydrated from even simple tasks while working and playing in the hot summer sun. Proper hydration keeps your skin and body functioning at optimum levels, so load up on water based drinks and watery fruits and veggies such as melons and cucumbers to stay hydrated.
2. Wear SPF?
It’s important to remember to apply sunscreen. Choose a broad spectrum sunscreen that has at least an SPF of 30. Apply a generous layer (about a shot glass for your entire body) to all exposed skin about 15 minutes before going out into the sun. Remember to reapply after sweating or swimming, or about every 2 hours. Always look for a sunscreen that has the active ingredients listed, and please don’t make your own. (Zinc is a charged particle, and it’s difficult to make a formulation that doesn’t end up having microscopic holes in the coverage because the zinc microscopically clumped together over time.)
Newer studies are showing that being in the sunlight without sunscreen may increase your risk of skin cancer, but won’t decrease your life expectancy. In fact, being in the sun has been shown to actually increase your life expectancy (as well as your risk of non-lethal skin cancers). Sporadic and extreme sun exposure has been shown to increase your risk of lethal skin cancers, while consistent exposure increases nitric oxide in the blood, which decreases blood pressure. See the study by Lindqvist and this blog post discussing Dr. Weller’s work for more information.
This obviously doesn’t address the dreaded sun spots and premature wrinkling from being in the sun, but it’s really given me food for thought and some good information about sunscreen!
3. Boost Your Topical Anti-oxidants
Free radicals are not your friends, and unfortunately, sunlight, chlorine, alcohol, some of the best parts of summer are full of them. The best defense is to avoid them, but that’s not always possible. Using a cream that contains green tea extract, niacinamide, vitamins C and E, or CoEnzyme Q10 will help minimize the damage to your skin from free radicals.
(Keep an eye out for our newest product, Repair and Restore After Sun Cooling Gel)
Our Repair and Restore After Sun Gel is full of antioxidants and vitamins to protect skin from the after effects of too much sun. It also contains cooling essential oils and aspen bark extract to help with the heat.
4. Protect Your Eyes from Sun Damage
The skin around your eyes is delicate and all the sunlight and swimming can be especially harsh on it. Wear a hat and/or sunglasses with UV protection and wear goggles while swimming. A soothing anti-oxidant rich cream, like our Bright Eyes Vitamins + Minerals Eye Cream can soothe delicate skin and provide a bevy of topical vitamins and minerals.
The best way to recharge your skin and keep it looking bright and beautiful is to exfoliate your skin once a week. Apply a natural body scrub once a week to slough off dead skin cells and reveal younger, glowing skin.
Sweating, swimming, salt, chlorine, sunshine and air conditioning all take a toll on skin. The need for moisturizing might not be as obvious during the warm summer months, but you still need to moisturize. Using a gentle all natural body butter can keep skin plump and rejuvenated.
7. Eat your SPF
Eating a healthy diet full of anti-oxidants, healthy saturated fats, omega 3 fatty acids, and leafy greens can boost your body’s ability to handle the free radicals from UV light. Drinking iced green tea can help keep you hydrated, as well as provide your body with a powerful poly-phenol called EGCG. You could also try supplements like astaxanthin, vitamin D3, and resveratrol to boost your anti-oxidant protection. You should avoid sugary and processed foods, as well as too much alcohol, as these promote inflammation and hinder the body’s ability to handle free radicals.
8. Get a Faux Glow
We all know that too much sun isn’t good for us, but who doesn’t love a healthy, sun-kissed complexion. You can opt for a sunless tanner to get your glow on. Sunless tanners do still cause some oxidation on the outer layers of skin, so it’s not ideal for every day, but it’s a safe way to glow for special occasions. Make sure to shave and exfoliate before applying sunless tanner, and take your time making sure there are no streaks.
9. Keep Bug Bites at Bay
It’s only a matter of time before a biting insect finds you too delectable to pass up. Itchy bug bites can lead to infection and scarring. Ward them off with a natural insect repellent like our Happy Camper Lotion. You’ll keep mosquitoes away while moisturizing skin with organic oils and probiotics. You can also lather up with a gentle soap scented with insect repellent essential oils, such as our Happy Camper Bar. (Keep the bar in your dresser drawer until you’re ready to use it to impart the scent of essential oils onto your clothes.)
10. Wear Breathable Fabrics
Loose, billowy clothes made out of natural fabrics, such as cotton or linen, allow air flow on your skin and help wick moisture away. This protects skin from staying damp and chapping and chafing.
Don’t neglect your skin the summer!
Summer is full of fun and busyness, and it’s easy to neglect your skincare routine, but the effects of dehydration and too much sun can last long after summer is gone. It’s important to take time to take care of yourself. You only get one body, and it’s got to last your entire life!
Father’s Day 2020 Gift Guide
Looking for the perfect gift for Father’s Day this year? Look no further!
Show Dad you think he’s awesome!
This cold process shave soap contains almost 3 bars worth of our famous shave soap, and comes with a boar’s bristle brush. It’s scented with a clean scent that’s reminiscent of Cool Water for men.
Our shave soap has a high percentage of castor oil, so it gives a luxurious shaving cream like lather, and bentonite clay give slip to the razor. (Bentonite is also great for detoxing the pores of your skin!)
This honey bar soap, beeswax hand salve, and solid cologne gift box is the perfect gift for the man in your life! It contains a full size 4+ oz bar of our cold pressed Honey Bar Soap, a 1.5 ounce tin of Men’s Beeswax Hand Salve, and a tin of Solid Cologne. You can mix and match scents to fit your man’s personality. The Honey Bar Soaps come in the natural scents of Woodsman, Mechanics, Buffalo Man, and Hair and Body. Our Men’s Hand Salves and Solid Cologne come in Woodsman, Bourbon, Mechanics, and Buffalo Man scents.
Our thick beeswax hand cream seals and protects cracked, dry skin by combining beeswax with organic plant oils and water. It also contains allantoin, the active ingredient in aloe and comfrey root to soothe skin. Available in assorted scents and unscented.
Our infused honey gift set makes a sweet gift for the awesome grill master or foodie in your life. It also makes an excellent addition to your next BBQ party. If the drinks at your next party tend to be on the harder side, buy a set for your bar and let guests sample the various flavor nuances in their drinks. Muddle a little fruit and a basil leaf in the bottom of your glass, sweeten with honey and top it off with lemonade, seltzer water, or your favorite cocktail. Each set includes 4 9 oz jars of infused honey in orange zest, lemon ginger, lavender bud, and vanilla bean.
Give Dad a useful, yet luxurious gift with cold process honey or propolis soaps. Each bar is specifically formulated to be gentle yet effective. Our Bee Rugged Men’s Soaps include hunter’s soaps, mechanic’s bar, Buffalo Man Shave Bar, and Hair and Body Bar. Shop our entire collection of men’s soap here.
The Best Skin Care Ingredients for Cold Weather
With cold weather finally upon us, many of us are beginning to feel the dreaded drying effect of winter. The following article describes the best and most effective ingredients to protect skin from trans-epidermal water loss in cold weather.
It might seem counter-intuitive to some people, but having water as an ingredient in your skincare is a definite boost. It activates the Natural Moisturizing Factors (NMF) in your skin. NMF include sodium lactate, sodium PCA, and amino acids molecules. These compounds are meant to hold water and keep skin moisturized. When the air around us is very dry, or we become dehydrated, these NMF dry out and can’t do their job. Using a cream or lotion (make sure it’s a true cream and not a balm) will plump those little guys up. Then those skin loving oils have a little more to work with. Another way to keep your skin hydrated is to make sure you’re drinking enough water. Running a humidifier helps, too.
You had to see this one coming. The reason beeswax is such a great ingredient in cold weather skincare is because it is so hydrophobic, meaning it does not like water. It seals skin to keep the water in. That keeps skin hydrated, and looking plump and full.
Another benefit of the anhydrous nature of beeswax is that it isn’t easily rinsed away. If you’re in a profession that requires frequent hand washings, look for a good beeswax cream to stick around after the first rinse.
True beeswax emulsions contain significantly less water than traditional creams and lotions. That means that while they have enough water to activate the Natural Moisturizing Factors (NMF) in your skin, they’re still thick and rich and protect skin.
Lanolin is pressed from sheep’s wool after it’s shorn. Lanolin is the only oil I know of that can actually absorb 30% of it’s weight in water. It’s molecular structure is remarkably similar to human sebum.
These properties make it an excellent barrier cream, that actually stores moisture for the skin once it’s finally absorbed. It’s important to make sure to use USP (US Pharmacy) grade lanolin to ensure that it is pure lanolin. Our hand creams and our Mint and Honey Lip Balm Tin harness the power of beeswax + USP lanolin.
Allantoin is the active ingredient in aloe and comfrey root. Studies have actually proven that allantoin speeds wound healing. (Araujo et al) Studies have also shown that allantoin helps with itching.(Veraldi, et al) That’s good news if your skin get so dry that it becomes cracked and itchy.
Bee Lovely Botanicals™ beeswax skincare was formulated to protect and nourish dry skin. To read more about our women’s hand creams, with organic oils, beeswax, lanolin, and probiotics, click here. For our even tougher Bee Rugged line that contains beeswax, lanolin, allantoin, organic oils and probiotics click here.
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Allantoin: The Active Ingredient in Aloe and Comfrey
Allantoin is a wonderful addition to any cream or lotion. It’s a water soluble ingredient, so you won’t find this skin loving active in anything that is solely oil based. (Most skin actives are water soluble, except for a few fat soluble vitamins or caffeine, or a few others.) It has a very low potential for irritation and can be made from aloe, comfrey, chamomile, or processed synthetically.
I think pretty much everyone has heard of putting aloe vera on a burn or sunburn. Studies show evidence that aloe is effective in healing minor to moderate burns faster than no treatment. Aloe is antibacterial and helps promote circulation. You know what a big portion of aloe’s properties is attributed to? That’s right, it’s allantoin.
Comfrey is another medicinal plant that is touted to help bruises and wounds heal, as well as speed recovery time for sprains and strains. Guess what comfrey has in common with aloe. Yup, you guessed it, allantoin.
Benefits of Allantoin
Keratolytic – This is a gentle exfoliation of the stratum corneum, the outer most layer of skin, that smooths skin.
Moisturizing – allantoin helps to increase water that is bound to proteins in skin, making skin look younger and healthier.
Soothing, anti-irritantant, and skin protectant effect – due to the ability of allantoin to form complexes and neutralize many sensitizing agents.
Studies also show that allantoin helps promote regeneration of damaged skin cells and accelerates wound healing.
So next time your browsing your ingredient label, check to see if allantoin is included in your potion.
Where the elderberries grow
Every year at about the time of our anniversary, Josh and I scope out where the delicate lacey blooms of the elderberry tree are plentiful. They often grow along the road or beside vacant houses. You’ll basically find them anywhere a bird might find a snack and poop out some elderberry seeds.
You have to be careful that you can recognize elderberries, as some of their cousins, such as dogwood or virginia creeper, get berries that could look the same to the untrained eye, and are poisonous.
Elderflowers bloom in Michigan around the third week of June.
Elderberries on the bush. They grow in clusters a little larger than a cup saucer.
Alternately, you can buy dried elderberries from most herb or health food sites. If you’re not sure what is or isn’t an elderberry, definitely go this route.
Benefits of Elderberry Syrup
You might not be sure why you should about elderberries. These dark purple little berries have been used for centuries to protect from colds and the flu. Modern science is now proving what folk lore touted, too! Science has proven that elderberries have anti-viral properties, and that their high anti-oxidant and polyphenol content help boost the immune system. One study showed that patients taking elderberry syrup had flu symptoms shortened by 4 days compared to the placebo group. Another Australian study showed that travelers who took elderberry syrup before travelling were less likely to catch a cold on the flight, and if they did, it was less severe and shorter duration than those who didn’t take elderberry syrup. Elderberry syrup may be an easy way to decrease the odds of someone coming down with a cold on your winter vacation to Disney World.
Precautions to be aware of when making elderberry syrup
So, now that you know why you care about elderberries and you’re gung ho to make some yourself, there are some precautions that you MUST be aware of before starting.
1. As I mentioned before, many poisonous wild berries could be confused for elderberry. Make sure that you can properly identify elderberry if you’re going to pick your own.
2. The sticks and stems of elderberry contain a type of cyanide. This means that you need to properly remove all the stems from your berries before making syrup. The berries grow in a large cluster with tiny little stems, sort of like a grape stem. It takes quite a while to destem even a small amount of elderberries. It’s the most labor intensive part of the whole process.
3. The berries also contain cyanide, so they should be cooked before being eaten to deactivate the hydrocyanic acid. Also, pick out all the unripe berries. (If you’ve ever tried a raw elderberry, it’s not a problem waiting until their cooked. They have a very bitter, almost metallic taste. It’s hard to believe that a berry so unappetizing can make such a delicious syrup or wine.)
Alright, the fine print is out of the way, and it’s pretty benign compared to some of the side effects listed on some drug commercials, so don’t let it scare you!
Benefits of Rosehips
Rosehips are another key ingredient in this syrup. Hey, if elderberries are good for you, they can only get better when they’re combined with other immune boosting compounds, right? Rosehips are an excellent source of vitamin C, and have been used as an immune booster to help the body fight foreign invaders. They also have some anti-inflammatory properites, as well, which is why they’re used as in treatment of rheumatoid and osteoarthritis. (Some studies have shown that rosehips decrease blood levels of CReactive Protein – a culprit contributing to many autoimmune and metabolic diseases.)
If you’re into wild crafting, you can find wild rose hips easy enough. Watch around mid-june for wild roses. You can let your nose lead the way! They usually grow in groups on wild land, and they make the air heavy with their rich aroma. Mark where you found the bush, because you’ll have to come back in the fall to get the rosehips.
Wild Rose Flower
Wild Rosehip (Fall after the blooms fall off)
The rose hip is the seed pod that is left in the fall after all the flower petals are gone. We have a few wild rose bushes in our yard, and we try to gather them after the first frost. The frost makes them a bit sweeter, I’ve read. If you’re not into traipsing through the brambles in search of rosehips, they’re readily available at health food stores and amazon.
Juicing the elderberries
After carefully destemming the elderberries into a tub of coldwater, we skimmed the unripe berries and any other unwanted things off the top of the water. The ripe berries generally sank, while the unripe berries, little pieces of twigs, or any unlucky little creatures usually floated.
Most recipes call for dried berries boiled in water, but we decided to use actual elderberry juice extracted from the berries with a squeeze-o-strainer. I think this method is the best way to go to get all the goodness from the elderberries, but it’s considerably more work than using dried berries and boiling them in water (and you won’t find fresh elderberries anywhere this time of year.)
Our first attempt to juice the berries was using our old cast iron enterprise wine press and sausage stuffer. The elderberries are so small and firm that it just didn’t squish very many of them. Our second attempt was to use a food mill, which also produced lackluster results.
Our third attempt with the squeeze-o-strainer worked wonderfully. Just a heads up, though. Elderberry seeds are full of some sort of REALLY, REALLY STICKY STUFF. We had a hard time getting the squeeze-o-strainer cleaned up.
And Finally…..The Elderberry and Rosehip Syrup Recipe!
- 3 cups elderberry juice or 1/2 cup dried elderberries + 3 cups water
- 1 Cinnamon Stick
- 1 Tablespoon of fresh ginger, chopped
- 1 Teaspoon of cloves, crushed
- 1/4 cup dried rosehips or 3/4 cup fresh rosehips
- 1 Cup BLB Raw Honey
- Add all ingredients EXCEPT THE HONEY to the pot.
- Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for about 45 minutes.
- Remove from heat and let cool to room temp.
- Pour contents of pot through a strainer to remove ginger, cloves, rosehips, (and dried elderberries if using)
- Add honey to juice and mix well.
- Keep refrigerated for up to 6 months, or freeze to use at a later time.
If you’re looking to purchase supplies for elderberry syrup, check out Starwest Botanicals or Atlantic Spice Company for dried elderberries. If you’re looking for an all in one kit, try pairing Alex’s Elderberries with some raw BLB honey!
This elderberry syrup is really tasty, and I feel like it’s helped me over the hump with a few colds now. I highly recommend it!
Have you ever wildcrafted any recipes or made elderberry syrup before? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!