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Your holiday beauty survival guide

Hurrah! It’s summer at last! So now it’s time to pay special attention to your skin if you want to look your best. Most of us know the best advice for exposing our skin to the sun after months of being wrapped up: apply SPF if you are out in the sun for a long time, stay out of the sun between 11am and 3pm, and cover up with hats, T-shirts etc wherever possible. You should also consider dropping into your local health store for a whole range of natural and organic sun products such as sun sprays and creams, lip balms, anti-age sun creams, after-sun milks and gels and self-tanning lotions.

Fun in the sun

“Considering the fact that so many people these days are vitamin D deficient, I think lack of sun exposure is a much bigger problem than too much exposure,” says Reidin Beattie of the Olive Branch in Clonakilty, Co Cork. “In fact, evidence continues to emerge suggesting that the toxic ingredients in commercial sunscreens are more dangerous than the sun itself. With this in mind, I think it’s important to create a good balance between soaking up some rays and staying safe. Coconut oil and shea butter both have a natural SPF6, so use a moisturiser with one of these bases. Carrot seed oil has an SPF30, so I like to mix some of that in with my coconut oil. However, for very pale or very young skin, a sunscreen can sometimes be the only way to avoid burning. Natural sunscreens use titanium dioxide or zinc oxide, which act as blockers to the sun’s rays. If your sunscreen has a thick, white consistency that’s actually a good thing, because it means the sun blocking ingredients are doing their job by sitting on the surface and not absorbing into your skin.”

According to Rebecca Goodyear of beauty blog, Biteable Beauty, “In addition to applying suncream, diet and supplements may also be beneficial in preventing and recovering from sunburn. Eating antioxidant-rich foods (like colourful fruit and vegetables) or taking supplements (such as astaxanthin, a seaweed extract that helps protect skin from the sun from the inside) can aid the skin’s resistance to harmful UV rays and also help skin heal.

“Ingredients to look for include titanium dioxide (from the natural oxidation of titanium), stearic acid (a fatty acid from shea butter), and caprylic/capric triglycerides (fatty acids derived from coconut oil). After being out in the sun apply an aftersun product. Look for ingredients such as aloe vera, calendula and chamomile.”

Health store sun creams and sprays contain ingredients such as evening primrose oil, organic carotene, calendula extract, flower extracts and essential oils.

Don’t feel the burn

Of course we want to avoid burning, but if it happens here’s what to do. “Aloe vera gels and creams are the main go-to lotions to apply after being burnt by the sun,” says Reidin Beattie. “One of my favourite and most effective lotions for sunburn contains camomile, calendula, rosemary leaf, peppermint and lemon - it has an immediate cooling effect and helps prevent peeling as well.”

Also good for calming and soothing sore and sunburnt skin are natural live yogurt, vitamin E oil, cooled black tea bags, aloe vera gel, and oats mixed with water. Simply add them to your bath and soak.

Natural fake tan

“To achieve that beautiful, bronzed look, sunbathing isn’t your only option,” says Reidin Beattie. “Make sure to choose bronzing products that use natural ingredients and are free from parabens. DHA is a safe natural ingredient derived from sugar that will give you a healthy looking tan without causing any damage. Many people drink carrot juice or take a beta carotene supplement which can alter the tone of your skin.”

“With more and more eco brands creating natural fake tans, there really is no need to load your skin up with chemicals found in more mainstream products,” says Niamh Larkin, skincare specialist at Evergreen Healthfoods. “We currently stock six different varieties of self-tan lotions, all of which are organic and/or certified natural. Most of these are gradual tans, but one or two do give an instant glow, so there really is something suitable for everyone’s individual needs.”

Stunning summer hair

“Summer can be a stressful time for hair, with exposure to salt, sand and sunshine, it’s not uncommon for hair to get dry, frizzy and even lose its colour,” says Niamh Larkin. “Treating your hair to a weekly hair mask can really help to keep it in good condition. Coconut oil makes a great hair treatment as not only does it nourish and condition the hair, making it silky smooth, it protects your hair from the sun’s rays too with a natural SPF7. Just remember when washing it out to apply shampoo and work into a lather before adding water – this will save you a lot of time!”

Reidin Beattie agrees: “I’m a huge advocate of coconut oil hair masks in summer, especially if going on a sun holiday. If you find coconut oil too greasy, a great alternative is to use coconut yogurt instead. I mix it with a little argan oil and some rosemary essential oil and it’s much easier to wash out.”

“I recommend using a leave-in conditioner hair mask during the day as a protective layer, and a hair oil at the end of the day to replenish any lost moisture,” says Rebecca Goodyear.

Don’t get bugged

“A major drawback of the outdoor life in summer is insects and bugs,” says Reidin Beattie. “Some studies have shown that taking vitamin B1 for two weeks before and throughout your holiday will greatly reduce your risk of getting bitten by mosquitoes. This vitamin produces an odour not detectable to humans but is hated by mosquitoes.”

“Neem is a plant whose oil is commonly used in natural insect repellents in place of deet,” says Niamh Larkin. “It is very successful in repelling midges, mosquitos and other creepy crawlies while being kind to the skin and the environment. People who decide to go down the natural route of making their own insect repellent choose oils such as citronella, lavender and tea tree, all of which are beneficial in keeping bugs at bay.”

“Go for body care products that contain lavender, tea tree or citronella, and eat garlic to mask the scent that attracts mossies to take a bite!” says Rebecca Goodyear.

Other anti-insect advice includes avoiding perfume, especially in the evening, and choosing unperfumed shampoos, body lotions and cosmetics.

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