Ireland isn’t well known for hot summers, but it hasn’t been too bad in the last couple of years. But as we all know, we don’t need a heatwave to cause sunburn and skin damage. We also don’t need scorching sun to be plagued by flies and creepy crawlies. (The spiders are getting bigger every year!) Here’s how I use my essential oils to deal with this.
The essential oils that I wouldn’t be without during the summer months are; lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus), lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), eucalyptus smithii (Eucalyptus smithii), peppermint (Mentha piperita) and patchouli (Pogostemon cablin).
Bug Spray and Nasty Chemicals
Many of the chemicals you find in most of the conventional insect repellent sprays can be quite aggressive. They can irritate the skin and mucous membranes, especially in children, even when they’re just sprayed on the clothing. Sometimes they have a very strong odour and given a choice, they are not the type of chemicals I am happy to inhale into my system. Homemade insect repellent is a safer option and it is very easy to make at home – and it’s very effective.
Natural Insect Repellent
Lemongrass is my favourite oil for repelling insects. It smells divine and insects detest it. Combine this with patchouli, peppermint, lavender and eucalyptus smithii and you have yourself a new perfume that creepy crawlies will hate you for.
You need a small 8-10 oz spray bottle. Half fill the bottle with cooled boiled or distilled water and top up with witch hazel. Add 30 – 50 drops of essential oils. Add a few of each one first of all and keep smelling it until it appeals to your own sense of smell. It doesn’t really matter if you don’t use all of the oils mentioned in the list, but your spray will be more effective if you do.
This spray is safe to use on clothing, and lightly over the hair and exposed areas of skin. Avoid spraying directly onto a child’s skin or on an adult with sensitive skin. Avoid contact with the eyes and mouth.
For babies and young children, I recommend the following recipe. 4 oz of cooled boiled or distilled water combined with 4 oz of witch hazel. Add about 12 drops of lavender and 12 drops of eucalyptus smithii. These two oils are safer for children, but use in moderation and avoid the eyes and mouth.. Don’t assume that just because certain oils are labelled as ‘safe’, that they can’t do harm. Yes they can and they do. See safety tips here.
For a mild insect repellent body lotion, blend 20 ml of unperfumed moisturiser/body lotion with 4 drops of eucalyptus smithii and 4 drops of lavender. For children and adults with sensitive or elderly skin, use only 2 drops of each oil to 20 ml of lotion. Before use, patch test on a small area behind the ear. If there is no skin reaction after 48 hours, it is safe for you to use.
Bug Free House
Your insect repellent spray can also be used to shine your windows. This helps to fend off the flies and other bugs. Although sometimes it’s almost impossible to keep the flies out of the house, diffusing or burning the above-mentioned oils, will help drive them back out again. Your house will smell amazing too. 5 or 6 drops in total is sufficient. Don’t be fooled into believing that you can burn essential oils all day every day. Check out my safety tips here if you haven’t already done so.
Lavender essential oil is the ultimate remedy for sunburn. If you combine it with aloe vera gel, your sunburn will heal very quickly. Peppermint essential oil is also an excellent addition to this blend as it is very cooling on the skin and reduces itching and inflammation.
Add 6 drops of lavender and 3 drops of peppermint to 20 ml of aloe vera gel. Mix thoroughly and apply gently (don’t massage) to the sunburned area. As always, half the amount of essential oils for children. This sunburn blend is also an effective remedy for insect bites. Just apply as necessary. Avoid peppermint at bedtime though, as it might keep you awake.
- Peppermint, eucalyptus smithii and lemongrass can be refreshing and stimulating, so it’s best to avoid these particular oils late in the evening.
- Eucalyptus and peppermint are both incompatible with homeopathic remedies.
- Store your spray in the fridge or other cool place.
- Perfume attracts insects so be careful how often you apply your favourite scent.
Let’s hope we have plenty of sunshine and warmth this summer. Always remember, prevention is better than cure, so cover up and stay safe in the sun. Have a happy and fun-filled summer everybody!