Natural Sunscreen and Bugspray

Since we’re camping in the woods, I’d talk about two of the biggest summer nuisances everybody encounters: bugs and sunburn.

On the water in Michigan, the mosquitoes seem to come out for an hour or so, then go away. That’s easy enough. We just go inside and put up a screen, if we can. The flies are more problematic. They seem to go especially for the ankles, so, often, wearing socks or wrapping a towel around my ankles fixes the problem.

But sometimes simply putting up a barrier doesn’t work. We have had success with Mosquito Coils; however, they are not necessarily the safest or greenest method. A safer alternative is burning Citronella Oil, which has always worked quite well for us. We either get it in a candle or burn it in Tiki torches.

What if that doesn’t work well enough? Or if you’re walking around, rather than staying in one place? How about some old-school bug spray? While DEET obviously doesn’t cause any problems immediately, it is not a chemical that you want to be constantly exposing yourself to. Here is some more information on that. As an alternative, we have had a great deal of success with citronella-based lotions. These do not work quite as well as DEET-based sprays–you might get a couple bites and you will have to reapply more often. I have a friend who has had a lot of success with this product as well.

So what about sunscreen? True, commercially produced sunscreen are not nearly as scary as bug sprays. However, if you’re trying to reduce your exposure to possibly toxic chemicals, you do need to read the label. Here is a description of some of the common ingredients in sunscreen. I disagree with that author in the end, though. Sunscreen obviously prevents sunburn, which is a know risk factor for skin cancer. And, even without the cancer risk, I do not know anyone who enjoys being sunburned. The solution is a mineral-based sunscreen. This brand is my favorite–it is inexpensive and easy to find in stores.

So, stay safe and stay comfortable, while also staying green this summer!

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