Outsmarting Summer Fun Sappers

These natural tools can help your customers avoid the little ouches that spoil a sunny day outdoors, from bug bites to sunburn and more!

The sun is finally shining and people are shedding the winter layers and stepping outside to enjoy the warm weather. No one wants their sunny-day adventures to be ruined by the sting of a sunburn or the itch of dry, rashy skin and insect bites. And those aren’t just passing annoyances, as concerns about skin damage and disease-carrying insects make people more focused on warding off these summer downsides. This, coupled with the fact that more consumers are steering clear of chemical-laden skin products in favor of options that are cleaner and greener, means more people may be stopping by your store in the coming weeks as they stock up on their summer skin care needs for sunscreens, bug repellents and more.

Protection from UV Rays
Gone are the days when we applied sunscreen only for a day at the pool, beach or lake. Today, it’s common to apply SPF daily before stepping out the door. A report from Transparency Market Research (TMR) predicts that the sun care market will expand at 5.8% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) and reach a total of $24.9 billion USD by the year 2024 (1). In addition to increased consumer awareness about sun protection, TMR points to the booming organic personal care markets as a driver of category growth. According to the report: “As an ever-increasing number of customers demand natural ingredients in everything from cleanser to shaving cream, this interest has likewise moved onto their new sun care buys. Explicitly with characteristic sun care products, purchasers are chasing down items that are organic sunscreens—mineral-based sunscreens containing titanium dioxide and zinc oxide—and items free from synthetics like oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, and homosalate (1).”

The chemical that has caused the most alarm in sunscreens, according to David Andrews, Ph.D., senior scientist with Environmental Working Group (EWG), is oxybenzone. In an article by The Huffington Post, Andrews said, “We’ve been raising concerns about the use of oxybenzone in sunscreens for probably at least 10 years” (2). Among the problems he cites: Research has suggested that oxybenzone may act as an endocrine disruptor.

As news of such concerns spreads in the mainstream media, consumers turn to organic, chemical free and mineral based products for their sun-care regime. Popular options include zinc dioxide and/or titanium dioxide, which are physical blockers, meaning they do not create a chemical reaction with the skin; they simply form a barrier that helps to keep UV rays from penetrating skin. W.S. Badger Company offers a variety of natural and organic options, including special formulas for babies and a tinted option for the face. Derma E also offers formulas for baby, as well as a lightweight, oil-free sunscreen for daily use. To help consumers sort through any confusion they may have about sunscreens, you can also point them to EWG’s “Guide to Safer Sunscreens” at www.ewg.org/sunscreen (3).

In February, the FDA issued a proposed rule that would update regulatory requirements for most sunscreen products. The goal: To bring “nonprescription, OTC sunscreens that are marketed without FDA-approved applications up to date with the latest science to better ensure consumers have access to safe and effective preventative sun care options.” Sunscreen active ingredient safety, dosage forms, sun protection factor (SPF) and broad-spectrum requirements are among the provisions in the proposal, along with proposed updates to how products are labeled so consumers can more easily identify key information. More information is available on www.fda.gov. Comments can be submitted on or before May 28, 2019.

Relief from dry, irritated skin
Sun exposure can lead to dry, irritated skin that needs some moisturizing TLC. Hemp seed oil products are gaining consumer interest as the buzz about hemp spreads. But this hot new trend has deep roots. Speaking to Today, Dr. Joshua Zeichner, the director of cosmetic and clinical research at Mount Sinai Hospital dermatology department, stated that “Hemp seed oil has long been used in skin care for its natural skin soothing and hydrating properties” (4). Botanical Rush offers Moisture Lock cream with full spectrum hemp compounds. CBD Lifestyle Labs also offers topicals that the company says can help calm inflamed, irritated skin.
Of course, many consumers will be looking for the traditional skin-soothing all-star: aloe vera. Aloe is well known for its effect on sunburns. A review of skin-protecting plants attributes aloe vera’s benefits to the synergy of polysaccharides, mannose-6-phosphate, and complex anthraquinones (5). The review also found that aloe improves fibroblast cell structure and accelerates collagen production. Lily of the Desert reports that its 99% Aloe Vera Gelly instantly cools skin while hydrating at least 3 epidermal layers to help replenish skin.

Help for bites and stings
In an article in Time Magazine, Dr. Lyle Petersen, the director of the Division of Vector-Borne Diseases in the National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), stated, “The data show that we’re seeing a steady increase and spread of tick-borne diseases, and an accelerating trend of mosquito-borne diseases introduced from other parts of the world” (6). Scary news like that has more people reaching for bug repellent, and alarming news about potentially toxic ingredients in mainstream offerings has them turning to natural products stores.
Consumers are looking for non-synthetic, natural, plant-based repellents to protect themselves. Coconut oil derived repellents are said to be effective and long lasting. A 2018 study published by the USDA states, “USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists identified specific coconut oil fatty acids that have strong repellency and long-lasting effectiveness against multiple insects—mosquitoes, ticks, biting flies and bed bugs—that can transmit diseases to humans and animals” (7).
While the USDA makes clear that coconut oil itself is not an efficient bug repellent, a coconut oil-derived mixture of fatty acids including lauric, capric, and caprylic acid can be significantly repellant to pests.
Quantum Health Buzz Away features coconut oil along with essential oils. Or point consumers to your coconut oil and essential oil selections to make their own. For a recipe, they can check out the essential oil insect repellent on www.thisiscoco.com (8). For other essential oil-based options, All Terrain Herbal Armor is a deet-free blend of six essential oils. Badger has a deet-free anti-bug spray with a blend that includes citronella, cedar and lemongrass. And if bugs do bite, the company offers After-Bug Balm with colloidal oatmeal to ease the itch so your customers can get back to enjoying their fun in the sun! WF

Happy Customer

We’re asking dedicated customers to share what they love about their local natural products store. This month, the spotlight shines on Rainbow Grocery.

Serving the Bay Area of San Francisco since 1975, Rainbow Grocery, a worker-owned Co-op, is the favorite natural and whole foods market of Kathlena, aka The Allergy Chef, owner of Free and Friendly Foods. California-native Kathlena has battled numerous allergies and auto-immune diseases her whole life. In an attempt to shed light on the allergy world, she has written books, provided recipes and opened a bakery that offers gluten-free and vegan treats for individuals with food allergies.

Why she loves Rainbow Grocery: “At Rainbow,” Kathlena explained to WholeFoods, “my family and I are able to purchase a wide range of clean and organic foods that are food allergy friendly as well. We operate several websites and social media accounts, so it’s important to us to have access to safe items to share with our followers, as well as to use in cooking at home. We have several children with food allergies and special diets, and Rainbow is the only store in a 60-mile radius that carries many of our favorite items.”

While the food allergy and special diet products available on the market has exploded over the past 10 years, without stores like Rainbow, “we wouldn’t have easy and affordable access to those products,” she said.

Read more about Kathlena’s story at www.theallergychef.com, and find out more about Rainbow Grocery at www.rainbow.coop.


  1. “Global Sun Care Market to Exhibit 5.8% CAGR; Rising Demand across Emerging Economies to Remain Key to Growth” TransparencyMarketResearch.com. Posted 07/01/18. Accessed 02/25/19. www.transparencymarketresearch.com/pressrelease/sun-care-market.htm;
  2. Julia Brucculieri, “What You Should Know About Sunscreen Chemicals Oxibenzone and Octinoxate,” HuffingtonPost.com. Posted 05/04/18. Accessed 02/25/19. www.huffpost.com/entry/oxybenzone-chemical-sunscreen_n_5aeb38b0e4b0c4f1931ffce0;
  3. “EWG’s Annual Guide to Sunscreen,” Ewg.org. Posted 03/18. Accessed 02/25/19. https://www.ewg.org/sunscreen/
  4. Donna Freydkin, “Buzzworthy Beauty: The Best hemp-infused Potions and Lotions,” Today.com. Posted 04/03/18. Accessed 02/25/19. https://www.today.com/style/buzzworthy-beauty-best-hemp-infused-potions-lotions-t126098
  5. R. Kora, et al. “Potential of herbs in skin protection from ultraviolet radiation,” Pharmacognosy Review. 5(10). 164–173(2011).
  6. Alexandra Sifferlin, “Diseases Spread By Insects Have More Than Tripled, CDC Says,” Time.com. Posted 5/01/18. Accessed 2/25/19.
  7. Sandra Avant, “Coconut Oil Compounds Repel Insects Better than DEET,” content.govdelivery.com. Posted 10/31/18.
    Accessed 02/25/19. https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/USDAARS/bulletins/2185acf
  8. Erika Naomi, “Essential Oil Insect Repellent,” Thisiscoco.com. Accessed 02/25/18. “https://www.thisiscoco.com/diy/diy-essential-oil-insect-repellent-with-coconut-oil/