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Holistic Guide to the Dog Days of Summer

Y’all better be out there embracing the warmth of the sun and the vibrant energy of the season!

Another Hot Girl Summer is here, which means it’s time for adventure, relaxation, and basking in the beauty of nature.

But, as we embark on our summer escapades, we can’t forget how essential it is to prioritize our well-being. Nothing ruins this stunning season quicker than an inopportune sunburn or dehydration spell.

So let’s get holistic! From protecting your skin with natural sunscreen and first aid must-haves, to healthy travel tips and hydration, this comprehensive guide is your key to a blissful and rejuvenating summer. 

Grab your sun hat and get ready to unlock the secrets to a safe, sun-kissed season from Dr. Neal‘s holistic summer survival kit.

In This Article

Holistic Sunburn Treatment

So. You fell asleep in the warm rays and woke up looking like a tomato. No judgment, we’ve all been there!

When it comes to first aid for those sunburn woes, though, remember the three A’s: 

  1. Aloe
  2. Aqua
  3. Advil

1. Aloe

Is the esteemed aloe really the stellar sunburn salve it’s cracked up to be? Yes, yes it is.

But brace yourselves because we’re about to expose the truth behind those translucent aloe vera gels that parade around like they’re the holy grail of sunburn relief. 

Here’s the gloop: many of those sneaky gels are nothing more than aloe-scented tricksters. True aloe gel oxidizes when exposed to air, and is subsequently a glorious shade of brown. When it’s time to purchase aloe, be a savvy shopper and look for gels from reputable sources without unnecessary or toxic fillers.

2. Aqua

Next up is aqua, the elixir of hydration. We’re not talking about mystical potions here, but the good old H2O that can work wonders for your sunburned skin.

Hydration is the secret ingredient that fuels the healing process and helps your body recover from that fiery sunburn. So, my friends, don’t underestimate the power of staying hydrated. Guzzle it down and let your body do its miraculous work.

3. Advil

Is Advil considered holistic? Depends who you ask!

What we know for sure, though, is that sometimes sunburnt folks need immediate relief from the searing pain. Herbal anti-inflammatories are powerful things, but they also tend to have a slow, cumulative effect on the body. So when you’re dealing with a red-hot epidermis, a cup of chamomile tea might not cut it.

Even the crunchiest of crunchy folks need to take an Advil now and again!

How to Choose the Right Natural Sunscreen

So you probably won’t make the mistake of napping in the sunshine again, but what about all the time you spend awake and outdoors?

SPF seems like the obvious answer, but when it comes to choosing the right sunscreen for your holistic summer care kit, things are actually a bit cloudy.

Mass Market vs. Natural Sunscreen

Nope, you can’t just slap any old tube of cream on your skin and call it a day.

Unfortunately for all of us, the wellness industry is a near-lawless land, so we consumers must transform into savvy ingredient detectives. 

The first step is to not let the sneaky marketing tricks fool you — just because a product claims to be “natural” doesn’t mean it won’t contain some sketchy stuff that can damage your health and the environment.

Remember that the FDA has done some sleuthing of its own and found that only two ingredients deserve the gold star for being safe and effective for everyday use — zinc oxide and titanium dioxide

And, further, just because a natural sunscreen says it utilizes those ingredients, doesn’t mean there aren’t a bunch of toxic fillers included, too. So, the next time you’re shopping for sunscreen, don’t be swayed by brilliant branding or bold claims.

Our Choice for Natural Sunscreen

Zinc-based sunscreens are the epitome of natural and effective sun protection — AKA the SPF solution that will have you slaying the summer while keeping your skin protected.

Now, let’s address the elephant in the room. In the past, these sunscreens had a reputation for giving your skin a ghostly white cast, making you resemble our friendly neighborhood ghost, Casper. 

But fear not! Modern formulations have pulled off some serious wizardry, incorporating impossibly small zinc compounds that effortlessly blend into your skin. It’s like magic! Or maybe science — it’s a toss-up. 

So, if you’ve been hesitant to embrace the natural options in the past, it’s time to dust off those doubts and give them another chance.

The Truth About SPF

Sun Protection Factor (SPF) is like code that reveals how well a sunscreen can shield you from the blazing sun’s UV rays. It’s a handy thing, but let’s separate fact from fiction.

Sorry to burst your sun blister, but a higher SPF doesn’t always mean better. 

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that an SPF 100 will transform you into an indestructible sun warrior. Dermatologists know their stuff, and they generally recommend a minimum SPF of 30 for everyday protection.

But hold on to your beach hat because here’s the plot twist — bottles of SPF 50 sunscreens litter the aisles of nearly every applicable store. So which is better? Should you splurge a little for more comprehensive skin protection?

Here’s the truth: SPF 50 only offers a teeny-tiny bit more protection than SPF 30. The difference is so minuscule that it’s like splitting hairs.

But It’s Not Just the Sun You Have to Worry About

Besides slathering on the right sunscreen and snagging a sunhat, the most important thing to know about holistic summer care is that certain medications and supplements can increase your sensitivity to the sun

We’re talking about antibiotics, anti-inflammatory drugs, antihistamines, and even those seemingly innocent herbal remedies. They can be sneaky little troublemakers, making your skin more susceptible to sunburn or phototoxic reactions.

If you’re wondering, “How do I stay one step ahead?” Fear not — the FDA has compiled a comprehensive list of sun-sensitivity medications.

Take a peek, know your enemies, and enjoy your sun-soaked escapades without bothersome blisters.

Summertime First Aid – Blisters, Cuts, Wounds


Speaking of the blisters that can sometimes accompany a sunburn (or a bad shoe choice)… Here’s the golden rule: resist the urge to pop or pick at them

Blisters are the body’s version of a natural band-aid, cushioning delicate skin from the harsh outside world. So keep those meddling fingers away!

Popping a blister will only serve to make the skin more susceptible to infection because you’re essentially turning it from a burn into a burnt wound.

Same goes for those pesky back-of-the-heel blisters — let them do their thing and heal naturally.

Cuts and Wounds

Most of us think we know how to handle the small cuts and wounds life occasionally gifts us. But really, there’s some myth-busting that needs to be done.

First: Wounds don’t need to “breathe.” It’s time to put that notion to rest, folks. 

In reality, leaving wounds uncovered can actually do more harm than good. It’s like leaving the door wide open for sneaky pathogens to waltz right in and wreak havoc.

Bandages also trap heat from the skin, keeping the wound at an ideal temp for killing any pathogens that do sneak in. So, cover your cuts and wounds up with an oil-based topical treatment from your holistic first aid kit and a bandage to create a protective shield.

Secondly: Stop using peroxide to clean your cut or wound every day.

Cleaning wounds frequently is crucial for fast healing, yes, but soap and water should be as crazy as it gets.

Only during the initial cleaning can you swab with peroxide or rubbing alcohol. If you continue to use harsh cleaning options on the tender, newly-formed skin cells, you’ll regret it.

4 Tips for Health Summer Travel

This part is for our fellow adventurers! You know how to combat sunburns and clean a wound now, but nothing can ruin a vacation like the common cold.

1. Mask Up, Superstar

Cold or COVID-19, it doesn’t matter. We’re still in our pandemic chic era, babes, so wearing a mask is non-negotiable, especially when hopping on public transit systems in unfamiliar territories.

N95 is the name of the game, because we’re not here for half-hearted protection. Safety first, always!

2. Zinc Lozenges to the Rescue

Whether by car, boat, or plane, traveling gives us unique opportunities to be in very close proximity to the germs of strangers. Ick!

But fear not, because you’re about to meet your new lifelong travel companion — zinc lozenges!

These tiny heroes are not meant for preventative measures, but for the moment you sense those cold symptoms creeping in. Tingle in your throat? Pop a zinc lozenge ASAP, kick those sniffles to the curb, and keep your travel game strong.

3. Carry the COVID Test Torch

It’s time to embrace a new addition to your travel essentials: the trusty COVID test.

Pack those COVID tests and create a little kit of health precautions to ensure your vacay isn’t derailed by unexpected colds or the big C. Be prepared, friends, and let nothing stand in the way of your epic travel adventures.

Learn More: COVID is Over! (And Other Dangerous Thoughts) | Dr. Neal Gets Real

4. Xylitol Nasal Spray

Ah, airports — the land of dry air and recycled breath!

Don’t let that crisp air suck the life out of your precious nasal passages. Meet xylitol nasal spray, the unsung hero of nasal hydration that can give your sinuses a refreshing burst of moisture.


Water, Water, Water: Why is Hydration Important?

Hydration — the eternal quest to keep our bodies happily quenched.

First things first, let’s address the elephant in the room…The current guidelines for daily water intake are kind of made up.

It’s true — the whole “eight cups a day” mantra is more of a ballpark figure than a hard and fast rule. So, it’s time to bid farewell to that arbitrary number and get down to the real deal.

Now, here’s another key to unlocking your hydration needs: forget about relying solely on your body’s thirst mechanism. You see, our marvelous bodies are resilient beings, and even when chronically dehydrated, our thirst mechanisms can play tricks on us and “turn off.” 

Sneaky, huh? So, waiting until you feel thirsty may not be the best strategy. Instead, crunch some numbers. Here’s a hydration formula for all you water drinkers out there:

Take your body weight in pounds, cut it in half, and am to drink that amount of water in ounces.

But hold on, we’re not done yet. You’ll need to account for the water loss activities that actively dehydrate you — like exercise or indulging in a few glasses of the good stuff (yeah, we’re side-eyeing you, alcohol). 

Always budget extra water intake for these dehydration culprits.

And here’s a final pro tip: avoid hydrating all at once or chugging gallons of water before hitting the sack. Trust us, interrupting your precious sleep for bathroom breaks is a recipe for groggy mornings and disrupted dreams. 

Holistic Summer Care for a Sunshiney Season

So, as we venture into the summer, let’s make the most of this gloriously hot season!

By protecting our precious skin, practicing smart travel tips, respecting the power of hydration, and embracing holistic first aid, we’ll be sailing through the sunshine unscathed.

Need more vacay health tips or sun protection how-tos? Schedule a free Counterside Consult today to receive personalized and direct guidance on how to face summer head-on and fully enjoy every moment.


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