In line with my post on bronzing your skin for summer, naturally, Jo from over at Eco Market sent in some fab tips for summer ready skin. In hindsight, I would recommend following her tips prior to using the products listed in my natural sunless tanning post to achieve an even glow.
She has linked in this post products sold on Eco Market, a cool "Etsy-like" concept (an online marketplace) where you can buy natural products directly from the sellers that make them, and get to know each seller and learn about the story behind each product. Cool, right?
The tickets are booked, the bikini has been bought and you're obsessing over the weather forecast every day. Your holiday is nearly here - but are you truly ready? Once you hit the beach it'll be too late for any more preparation - and your skin might not be in the right state to turn that shade of bronze you crave.
How to prepare properly? Our guiding mantra is: buff, smooth, cover, cool.
For smooth skin and and even tan, you need to give your skin a good scrub and get those unwanted flaky layers off. This doesn't have to be a complicated process. You can use a natural healing scrub, but above all, what it requires is a bit of hard graft. There's no way around it - you've got to polish your skin until it shines. If you're using the right tools for the job, that's a quick yet painless process (don't scrub too hard! Sunlight on inflamed skin = not so much fun).
We're fans of the following two exfoliation aids: the Natural Ramie Exfoliator Wash Mitt by Tranquility Natural Skincare (£3.95 / $6 USD) and this Loofah Back Brush by Ellwoods of Dumfries (£6.50 / $9.50 USD). The former uses a bast fibre that's been used for at least 6,000 years (earliest records of its use are from Egypt) and it's one of the strongest natural fibres around - and actually strengthens when it gets wet. The latter...well, you want the perfect tan, right? So you need the perfect back, and that means being able to reach and exfoliate it properly. Leave no corner of you untouched.
As for what to put on that mitt or loofah, a little oil-laced cane sugar can work wonders!
Once your skin is smoother than a baby's, it'll need feeding to maintain that silky feeling. You need all your natural oils in balance to fend off skin outbreaks, and you need to avoid dry skin to prevent cracking. Enter the humble yet mighty moisturizer. You could plump for ready-made: we love this African Shea Nut Butter Oil, ethically sourced from a woman's co-op in Ghana (£7.95 / $12 USD) and this Lavender Apple Lotion handmade by Tiki Bar Soap (£7 / $10 USD). But if you want to keep things simple, making your own moisturizing oil is quick and easy (and it even works if you have oily skin).
3. Cover Up
You've heard the horror stories, you've seen the photos of sun-damaged skin under UV light - there's no question you're going to be wearing sun-screen. The problem is, most sun-screen is a toxic menace and has been linked to the recent catastrophic decline in coral reefs populations around the world. Whatever you put on your skin is going to start washing off when you hit the water - so it has to be natural and non-toxic. The two sunscreens we'll recommend here are Purple Prairie Sun Stuff, SPF 30 (£11.23 / $16 USD) and Eco Formula 30+ (£11.90 $16 USD). Sun Stuff was given a top rating by the Environmental Working Group Cosmetics Database, and it's built up from a base of organic olive oil, zinc, jojoba oil and organic shea butter - while Eco Formula is stuffed full of USDA cerified organic natural ingredients. Coral reefs, rest easy.
But the simplest way to protect yourself from the sun? Put something in the way. We turn to the work of Tumi Crafts, legends in the ethical hatwear industry (they've been on the go since 1978)...and proudly don their foldable Fair Trade Panama Hat, made from iraca palm fibre and manufactured in Ecuador.
4. Cool Down
And if, despite your best efforts, the sun nails you anyway? Keep some aftersun in the fridge or minibar where you're staying, ready for when you step out the shower the morning after (that's usually where we first feel that telltale stinging over our face and shoulders). Seriously, refrigerated aftersun cream - remember that scene with the subway and the grate in Some Like It Hot? You'll have that expression on your face. Our recommendation - the dramatically named Intensive Scar Rescue Kit, a double-whammy of organic cocoa butter and rosehip oil to give your skin the post-holiday vacation it needs.