A bowl full of oil atop a linen cloth surrounded by rosemary, clove, eucalyptus herbs and essential oils

Our skin has been craving the bright, warm comfort of sunshine and the gentle breezes of summer. We may be anxious to wear our tanks, shorts, dresses and swim suits, but it’s important to take good care of that exposed skin throughout the season. Sunscreen, bug repellant and aloe vera are three summertime essentials you should never leave the house without.

Sun Protection

It’s wise to protect your skin whenever you're in the sun, not just when you’ll be at the beach from morning until night. Consider applying a daily moisturizer with a 15 or 20 SPF each morning on your face, neck and chest. Some cosmetics even build low-level sun protection into their foundations or tinted moisturizers. Find a lip balm or lip color with SPF in it as well, and use it daily.

If you are planning to be outside for a significant time period, use a higher SPF on all exposed skin areas. Remember that sunscreen needs to be reapplied after time, sweating or going in water.

Covering your skin and utilizing shade are also great ways to protect skin, as they don’t wear off. Consider swim shirts for kids who may be harder to wrangle when it’s time to reapply sunscreen again. Treat yourself to a cute sunhat or two. Add some light-colored, thin, flowing articles of clothing to your wardrobe.

Bug Repellant

There are many types of bug repellants to choose from. Early this season, perhaps try your hand at making your own with natural oils. Combine 1 tablespoon each witch hazel and your preferred kind of oil (coconut, jojoba, almond, etc.). Now here is the fun part: mix fragrant essential oils to total a 50-drop combination. Choose from cedarwood, eucalyptus, lemongrass, rosemary, clove, citronella, tea tree, lavender, peppermint and rose geranium.

Do you want an herbed bug repellant? Try rosemary, citronella, cedarwood and clove. If you’d like a floral version, combine rose geranium, lemongrass, lavender and tea tree. Minimalists may like a simple eucalyptus, peppermint, and tea tree mix. Have fun with it!

Recycled baby food jars would be a nice size container for your different scents, or a larger batch would store nicely in a 4 ounce canning jar.

Before applying all over the body, always test for allergic reactions on a small part of the skin.

Aloe Vera

Pure aloe vera has many wonderful properties: it hydrates, soothes, cools, heals and even has antibacterial properties. Aloe is rich in vitamins C and A. Many people use it for cuts and wounds, but also as a topical cream after getting sunburned. Aloe is a gentle daily moisturizer for face and body, too. It’s widely available as gel in bottles, but it’s also easy to use right from the source.

Aloe vera plants, part of the succulent family, are a breeze to care for and lovely to have in your home. To harvest the gel, snap off a lower branch at the base of the plant. Cut off the thorns along one edge. Carefully slice length-wise to expose the gel-like interior; you’ll have two thin, symmetrical pieces. Use a spoon to scrape out the gel to put directly on the desired areas. Aloe vera gel can stain, so wear clothes you aren’t worried about. Refrigerate the remaining gel, and thank your handy healing plant.