On the long July 4th weekend, I went to Lake Tahoe for some much-needed communing with nature.  It was a glorious, cloudless three days with temperatures hovering in the mid-80s.  I went hiking for two days and each day, after 30 mins. of letting my arms, shoulders, back and legs absorb some Vitamin D inducing rays, I slathered my body with Badger SPF 30+ Sunscreen.  I didn’t get a hint of color after 4 hours in full mid-day sun.  On the third day, I took a boat ride around the lake and again, after 30 mins of exposing my skin to the sun, I slathered my body with Lumixyl MoistureLock Sunscreen. I reapplied after one hour. By the end of the 3 hour boat ride, of which 1.5 hours was spent below deck, my back and shoulders were fried.

When I got back to the car, I immediately applied Lily of the Desert Aloe Vera Gel on the burn and reapplied frequently because the coolness felt so good.  The following day, I applied the aloe in the morning but because I had to go back to work, I couldn’t reapply frequently. I was in excruciating pain - the kind of pain that isn’t just on the surface of the skin but seems to go straight through to the bone.

That evening to my local natural pharmacy to purchase Jurlique’s Calendula Cream, one of the best things I’ve found for sunburn. To my horror they were out of stock, but one of the sales people recommended a different calendula formula, a gel from Boiron, a French homeopathic manufacturer. I applied some from the tester and felt relief within 5 minutes.  I bought both the gel and their calendula cream and used them together, layering the cream over the gel, for three days. I continued using the gel but then began to layer shea butter from Mountain Rose Herbs on top of it. By Sunday night, the redness was gone and my skin was brown. There was no pain. I stopped using the Calendula Gel but continued using the shea butter, hoping it would prevent my skin from peeling.

It’s one month later and my skin never peeled! I’ve continued using the shea butter almost daily (and really ought to make it a permanent part of my routine - it’s fabulous) and my back and shoulders are tan.  The Boiron products contain some nasties and aren’t as natural as I would like them to be but holy cow, did they work!  They will now be a permanent fixture in my first aid kit.

Boiron Calendula Gel: Active Ingredient:  Calendula officinalis MT HPUS - 7% Inactive Ingredients:  1,2-hexanediol and caprylyl glycol, alcohol, carbomer, dimethicone, purified water, EDTA disodium, sodium hydroxide, sorbic acid

Boiron Calendula Cream: Active Ingredients: Calendula officinalis 1X HPUS 10% Inactive Ingredients: Purified water, pegoxol-7 stearate, (from EWG: PEGOXOL 7 STEARATE: Polymers of ethylene oxide used as humectants, solvents, binders, emulsion stabilizers, and viscosity increasing agents in cosmetics) lauroyl macrogolglycerides, glycerin, cetyl palmitate, sorbic acid, carbomer, sodium hydroxide, methylparaben, propylparaben