Summer is here. Birds sing nearly non-stop. Boats motor by accompanied by shrill screaming from children. The sun never seems to set. We are once again exposed to the hot sun for hours on end. And we are reminded to cover up, don a broad-rimmed hat, apply broad spectrum SPF 30 sunscreen, and avoid direct sun exposure from about 10am to 2pm.
“The sun is the biggest aging factor so we want to protect our skin from sun and stay hydrated,” says esthetician Holly Arrindell, who owns Medicinal Skin in Ridgefield. “The sun is getting stronger and we’re more aware of its harmful effects. And one of the largest cancers out there is skin cancer. The skin gives us a clue as to our general well-being.”
Summer sun comes with positive results, too. This includes a big dose of vitamin D—which many Connecticut residents lack—and a feeling of wellness and overall health. “It promotes mental health and stress reduction, and creates opportunities to be physically active,” Arrindell says.
Although we are bombarded by commercials, online pop-up ads and window shopping specials promising all manner of potions and products to restore and protect our skin and hair from heat, sun and insects, tried and true natural remedies with plant extracts and even foods remain the go-to favorites for area skin and health experts.
Exfoliate the Skin; Reverse Aging Sun Damage
As we move into hot weather, exfoliating the skin is vital. It is time to remove dead, dull and flaky skin and prior sunscreen build-up.
Jennifer Ciamei, owner of Ciamei Wellness in Trumbull, suggests a full-body peel—which includes natural fruit acids—to remove and lighten sun damage from the skin. The natural
process also includes dry brushing the skin so the skin is more absorbent to treatment. Ciamei then uses polishes, salts, powders and even mint leaves to pull out prior sun damage. An aromatherapy shower with avocado and oils massaged into the skin is another key part of restoring damaged skin from years of sun damage.
In Guilford, Arlene Bouley’s salon offers an array of chemical-free products, which she discovered as a result of her having lymphoma. She traced her cancer diagnosis back to working in what she called a “toxic” salon environment. Healthy and happy now, Bouley opened Everlastings Organic Salon & Spa to share the natural wonders of beauty with others. “During the summer our skin tends to dry out,” says Bouley. “It’s important to rehydrate the skin with a facial.”
Bottega Organica is product line that has a body scrub with sea salt and peppermint that provides anti-aging properties, says Siobhan McKinley, owner of Organachs Farm to Skin in Westport. Molecular geneticist Dr. Andrea Alimonti created the Bottega line. He identified a handful of plant extracts that prolong the lifespan of human cells by inhibiting cellular growth. In other words, he found the key to natural substances that slow the aging process, according to the Bottega website.
And then there is Salt of the Earth Sanctuary in Woodbury and Saltana Cave in Ridgefield, places of healing and meditation inside a dark room, or “cave”, constructed with salt from the Himalayas. The room’s walls are made of salt slabs, and the ground is a deep layer of crushed salt—it feels like you’re walking on a beach. Saltana Cave owner Anna Husted says just breathing in the sodium chloride is healing. “And skin care pretty much includes what
we eat, what emotions we process, and what products we put on our skin,” Husted says.
Ciamei creates her own skincare concoctions for clients at her Trumbull practice, based on their skin type and knowing which plant products do what for skin. “It is important to know how your skin ages, how the different seasons affect skin, and how women crave different foods or drink more alcohol. There is more imbalance when we are out in the sun more often,” she says. “Your skin changes every season with your body type and age.”
Ciamei suggests people stop using retinol creams and offers her own skin care products that include hyaluronic acid—which is a powerful humectants or a moisture-binding ingredient that keeps skin plump and young-looking—and vitamin C. And Ciamei custom formulates products for sensitive or allergy-prone skin and people with cancer.
Her caviar exfoliant polish—yes, real fish eggs mixed with the non-toxic mica mineral that gives skin a shimmery glow—can also polish the skin.
Here are some common summer problems and solutions from area experts:
Arrindell suggests using a lightweight skin moisturizer. Key ingredients to look for are zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, which protects skin from harmful UVA and UVB rays, she says. Some natural products include Carefree Naturals, Naturopathica, Earth’s Best Mineral Sunblock and Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen.
Reapply sunscreen throughout the day and switch make-up brands to something mineral-based that has natural sun protection. She suggests Bare Minerals or Jane Iredale makeup lines.
Suntegrity is another popular product line, says McKinley, who carries the line at Organachs Farm to Skin. The sunscreen acts as a primer underneath makeup, she adds, and includes sunflower and green tea. Saltana Cave carries a few products made by Ann Marie Gianni including Sun Love. All natural, all vegan and non-GMO products from Dr. Mark Hyman’s line include cleansers, sprays, scrubs and masks, are available at Saltana.
When you get a burn, splash cold water or take a cold water bath to take the heat out. Once the skin is cooled, apply aloe. Wait 72 hours before applying cream to hydrate and nourish the damaged skin, Arrindell suggests.
One of Arrindell’s favorite products for sunburn is Lavender & Aloe Cooling Cream by NYR Organic, for which Arrindell is a consultant and sells at her practice. She says it also works well for bug bites.
Dry hair and skin
Prophet Skincare co-owner Kelly Francisco uses facial serum this time of year. “The serums give you subtle moisturizing as well as anti-aging properties as the serums are smaller in molecular structure and easily absorbable,” says Francisco. She was motivated, along with her husband, to create their own skincare products due to her fear that harmful chemicals contribute to many health problems. Her organic skincare salon (BeautyHealthWellness.org), based in Westbrook, has a vitamin C facial serum and an anti-aging facial serum.
Another product line McKinley suggests is de Mamiel, which has a body serum with eight different plant extracts. “It’s lightweight and intensely hydrating for the skin, and it looks great on legs as it adds some shimmer,” she explains.
McKinley also suggests using the Voya line of products—which are seaweed based and have therapeutic properties—and the Voya’s Hydra Veil facial mask in particular to clean skin of sunscreen.
Summer activity means you should exfoliate twice a week, Arrindell suggests. Make sure to use a serum, face oil or balm under moisturizer to help combat dry skin.
Before you dip in a pool with chlorine, first apply a skin balm to face, neck and chest, Arrindell says. Wild Rose Beauty Balm or Baby Balm by NYR Organics work is her recommendation. Ciamei suggests a natural quinoa spray to protect hair from the sun and boost shine and curls.
At the Synergy Salon in New Canaan, owner Michelle Maestri-Murphy incorporates certified organic oils and natural ingredients into hair care services. Before a dip in pool or ocean, first coat hair with coconut oil or organ oil to protect it, she suggests. When you get home, rinse hair with a concoction of white vinegar, lemon juice and water to detox hair and rid it of chlorine or salt.
Popular summer services at Synergy include a certified organic scalp and hair treatment that adds extra moisture and detoxifies the scalp. And an anti-aging smoothing, formaldehyde-free treatment can restore hair to a youthful state and remove frizz.
Everlastings Organic Salon & Spa carries its own line of shampoos and conditioners made exclusively by a local ayurvedic practitioner, Bouley says. The organic shampoos and conditioners are free from harsh chemicals like sulfates, parabens and formaldehyde.
Many conventional deodorants contain aluminum, says Bouley of Everlastings. Aluminum has been associated with health issues including breast cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, bone disorders and kidney problems, she adds.
A natural deodorant brand is Ursa Major, which is also highly effective, suggests McKinley. Or use Meow Meow Tweet based in the Catskill Mountains in upstate New York, which has two deodorant sticks: lemon eucalyptus and lavender bergamot.
Try cutting down on caffeine and spicy foods, and drink plenty of fluids. And in early afternoon, freshen up using wipes and reapplying deodorant, Arrindell suggests.
Bug and insect bites and rashes
Some natural remedies to keep the bugs away are DEET-free and non-toxic, including California Baby, BuzzAway or Bite Blocker insect repellent, Arrindell says.
DEET is in most repellants on the market and is highly toxic, as outlined in Francisco’s book Warning! Dangerous Ingredients (ProphetSkinCare.com/Product/PSC-WDI-Book).
Ciamei creates her own natural bug repellant with carrot oil, lemongrass and bergamot, which can be sprayed on clothes and skin. And Zoe Organics offers another insect repellant, McKinley suggests.
Francisco in Westbrook sums it up best: “Be mindful of what you put on your body and enjoy summer!”