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Summer comes with a very specific set of skin issues, including sweat and shine, dark spots and discoloration, and the occasional sunburn (despite increased awareness for and insistence on SPF, we're only human, and sometimes we leave the beach with a minor burn). The good news is that there is a whole host of products you can use to treat and prevent these summertime skin issues, from mattifying powders to brightening serums to effective sunscreens and beyond.
What many people don't know is that there are also herbal remedies for these skin issues, which involve mixing and manipulating certain plants—some of which you probably already have in your kitchen—to cool, soothe, and treat the skin. That's according to master herbalist and founder of Naturopathica, Barbara Close. Close has been preaching the gospel of clean, effective beauty for over 25 years, and is a fount of knowledge when it comes to natural skincare solutions. We sat down with the beauty and wellness expert to talk about these all-natural and DIY methods for solving summer's biggest skin issues. Keep scrolling to see for yourself.
Herbal Remedies For a Sunburn
Let's start out with sunburn, since that's probably the most gnarly summer skin issues out there. Whether you were lackadaisical with your SPF or you forgot it altogether, you now have blotchy patches of red, irritated skin. If it's a particularly bad sunburn, it can be painful to the touch and feel as if it's radiating heat off of your body. Now what? Close says it's time to reach for oatmeal.
"Have you ever heard the old wives’ tale about soaking in an oat bath when you have a rash or dry skin? An oat bath is actually one of the most effective treatments for sunburn and inflammation, due to the nourishing and restorative properties of oats," Close says. "Oats contain oat beta-glucan, which forms a film to help the skin attract and retain moisture and also has anti-inflammatory properties to help soothe redness, sun-sensitivity and irritation." To draw an oat bath, she says to make an herbal infusion. "Place 1 ounce of organic rolled oats in a French press," she recommends. "In a small saucepan, bring distilled water to a boil and pour the hot water over the herbs. Let it steep for 10 minutes and strain the mixture through a cheesecloth, pouring the infused water directly into your bath water. Allow the bath to cool before soaking."
For a sunburned face, Close says to choose a soothing and hydrating facial mist, like Naturopathica's Oat & Calendula Soothing Jelly Mist ($34). "Featuring two of nature’s best skin- soothers, combined with four ultra-hydrating molecular weights of hyaluronic acid, this mist will be your new best friend for hot, sunny days," she promises.
Herbal Remedies For Dark Spots and Discoloration
Discoloration is another dreaded side effect of too much sun. Close recommends wearing sunscreen to stop discoloration from happening in the first place. "Any esthetician will tell you that the best tool against sun damage is prevention—wear a physical sunscreen like zinc everyday to prevent signs of sun damage before the warning signs occur," she says. "That said, most people are relaxed about sun protection in teenage years, then see hyperpigmentation and broken capillaries start to appear mid-20s and 30s."
If discoloration has already appeared on your skin, it's time to turn to exfoliation. "For dark spots, the key to an even skin tone is cellular turnover. Make exfoliation part of your regular routine by pairing smoothing and brightening ingredients like lactic acid and resveratrol—both naturally-derived and featured in our Sweet Cherry Brightening Enzyme Peel—or retinol and bakuchiol, featured in our Argan & Retinol Wrinkle Repair Night Cream ($106). Supplement your exfoliation with a daily vitamin C serum, with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits to help improve skin tone and texture."
Discoloration doesn't simply mean dark spots. It can also mean blotchiness in the form of broken capillaries. "Broken capillaries require a gentler approach," she continues. "Avoid any physical abrasion, including manual exfoliants, and only treat the area with calming and soothing ingredients like seed oils, cleansing balms vs. surfactant cleansers and restorative serums. This will not repair the existing damage, but will help to prevent any further damage."
Herbal Remedies For Chest and Back Breakouts
Summer is a prime time for breakouts to appear. Not only are we layering sunscreen over our skin multiple times per day, but we're more active, and likely to experience skin congestion due to sweat and excess oil. It's not just our face that has to deal with the repercussions; it's the skin on our bodies, too—namely the chest and back area.
While wearing lightweight, breathable clothing is helpful in preventing body acne from forming, Close has a few tips and tricks for treating it if it's already present. "Although back and chest acne can feel like an entirely new challenge, treatment is similar to facial breakouts," she explains. "The skin on the body is slightly thicker than the face, so start with a manual scrub with ingredients like micronized walnut shells, black silt clay or volcanic pumice that help to remove dead skin cells and clarify clogged pores. Then, follow with your serum or lightweight lotion with clarifying ingredients like AHAs (glycolic acid) or antimicrobial herbs like rosemary, ginger and neroli—natural alternatives to soothe and decongest the skin."
Herbal Alternatives For Antiperspirant
"I opt for natural deodorants, but I do have a few favorite essential oils that help with bacteria and odor: tea tree, peppermint and rosemary," Close tells us. "These are all seasonal, summer herbs that have cooling (peppermint), antiseptic and antimicrobial properties—perfect for a soothing summer foot soak or cooling bath to keep your body feeling (and smelling) fresh and energized."
Ingredients to Look For In a Face Mist
We know what you're thinking: why should I care about face mist when I'm dealing with sunburn, body acne, and more? According to Close, face mist is a summertime must-have. "Although they seem like a refreshing add-on, face mists are one of the most important steps in a healthy skincare routine. After cleansing, they help to tone and rebalance the pH of the skin, allowing your treatments (serum, moisturizer, eye cream, etc.) to penetrate more effectively."
While there are quite literally thousands of face mists to choose from, we suggest using one that contains hyaluronic acid to draw moisture into the skin, instead of drying you out (you can read about our favorite hyaluronic face mists here). Close recommends the newest mist from Naturopathica. "For deep hydration, four types of hyaluronic acid at different molecular weights work together to replenish water throughout four layers of the skin, drawing moisture from the outside and locking in hydration on the inside," she says. "Namesake oats and calendula are nature’s best healers for burns and sensitivity, making this combination a skin-savior after sun, sweat or a day stuck in dehydrating A/C." We'll for sure be stocking up.
Next up, see 9 brands that just launched new products in recyclable packaging (because it all adds up).