kim’s bug bite (and heat rash) hack

i love camping and the outdoors, nature and grassy wooded areas. being bug bite prone though, is a surefire way for me to become a debbie downer. as a kid spending a summer in the philippines, i remember once that my legs were so eaten up and raw that my aunt took me to a dermatologist to check out my poor limbs; they gave me a cortisone cream, which didn’t do a damn thing. most conventional bug bite creams on the market are cortisone based which still don’t do a thing for me (and are toxic to boot). my skin is so sensitive to these bites that they usually quickly turn into huge bumps that make me look deformed (no joke), and are sooooo itchy that they distract me from enjoying myself in said nature, putting me in a cranky mood. 🙁

over the years, with extensive research and travel, i think i’ve figured out my magic combination of bug bite prevention and relief! and they are, for the most part, non-toxic. different bugs exist in different places, so these may not be as effective in one locale than another, depending on your own skin and where in the world you are. but if you have to use DEET, use it. it’s better to be safe and not get malaria than to try and be all hippy with your natural remedies, imo.

BEFORE YOU GET BIT – PREVENT
so you know an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure bla bla bla. in this case, it’s totally true. i am not above putting on a hat with a bug net on it, and in most cases find that diligently applying and reapplying my anti-mosquito potions are enough for me.

KNOW THE BUGGERS’ TIME + PLACE
mosquitoes are notorious for being the most active at dawn, dusk, and around still water + swampy areas. they also like to get our ankles and feet while sitting at dining tables. being mindful of these times and locales have been helpful for me to know when i should stay on guard, inside or perhaps take the seat at the end of the table vs in the corner against a wall.

FOR THE LOWER BODY – PICARIDIN LOTION
i like the sawyer picaridin insect repellent lotion to put on my legs and find that once i put this on before going out for the day, i don’t need to reapply, so long as i don’t get wet. it’s important to speak on lotion vs spray because applying lotion with your hands ensures a more thorough application, thus making it stay on the skin better, last longer, and won’t easily sweat or rub off like a water-based spray (the same can be said about any other spray product, SPF included). picaridin is an ingredient that is synthesized in a lab (as most skincare ingredients are) that is modeled after an extract from the chrysanthemum flower, and also has been shown to be just as effective as DEET, without the toxicity or fragrance (check out the EWG’s stance on it here).

FOR THE UPPER BODY AND FACE – GREENERWAYS ORGANIC BUG SPRAY
i am not a fan of chemicals in general (toxicity, smell, general grossness and support of those industries), and will use chemicals only when i have to (like using the picaridin lotion above). i much prefer using natural products as much as possible and in the realm of bug spray, will stick to using a natural one on my upper body, to avoid inhaling or ingesting said toxins. if you eat with your fingers, are doing any smooching or are handling babies/kids, it’s best to be exposed to a natural bug spray than a toxic and bitter tasting one.

for years i have loved using the greenerways organic bug spray, the only one on the market i’ve found to be water-based AND organic. most natural ones on the market are in a base of cloggy ass soybean oil and are just oily, sticky and gross. plus, it’s a small family out of pennsylvania that makes this stuff, so all the more i am happy to support another small biz. i’ll decant this into a smaller spray bottle to take with me for reapplications, since natural products work best with repeated usage over time.

the way i apply this is to spray it onto my hands, and then rub it onto the areas affected. remember, actually massaging product into your skin is going to yield a much more effective and long lasting application.. as well as prevent the product from 1. being wasted, and 2. being sprayed onto surfaces other than your skin, including rivers, lakes and oceans. (i have seen people put on spray sunscreen while standing in freshwater lakes and it is disgusting how much ends up in the water.)

note: i find that their 4oz bottle is difficult to handle, so decanting the liquid into their smaller 1oz (or a different shaped spray bottle, muji and rainbow grocery has great ones) is necessary for me.

AFTER YOU GET BIT – TREAT

DON’T SCRATCH OR PICK AT IT (sound familiar?)
the key is to preventing more itching, scarring and swelling is to RESIST SCRATCHING. the less you scratch, the less annoying it will be, the less scarring will occur (from scratching the skin open, leaving you with scabs) and the faster it will heal, i promise! the same can be said for acne 🙂 here are some things you can do instead:

SLAP IT
some hard, heavy slaps on the bumps as they appear may be enough to numb the nerve endings that make it start itching.. this is a quick fix until you can get access to the following:

ICE!
just as you would to relieve inflammation for acne, icing is one of the best remedies to employ. it numbs the nerve endings and instantly relieves the itching – with relief lasting (for me, usually) at least a couple of hours afterward. also, if you are getting bug bites you’re probably in a hot place, so getting ice cubes – or just something cold at least – should (theoretically) be easy. i have no shame in digging an ice cube out of my water glass at a restaurant and icing the bumps on my legs, arms, etc for relief. i’ll just wrap it with a napkin to soak up the dripping water as best i can.

MUSCLE RUB
anything that’s got camphor or menthol or peppermint is going to have that cooling sensation that’s great for numbing down itching. when i was in thailand, every convenience store i went to had some kind of a tiger-balm thing, be it a salve in a jar or an oil in a roller stick. i am a big fan of the oil roller sticks because it makes for a mess-free application, and is multi-purpose. i used them to relieve headaches, shoulder pains, sore feet and legs from standing around for hours (like i did when mom and i were in bangkok for the late rama 9’s cremation ceremonies). know that it can take a few minutes for the itching to go away after applying these oils, so have patience to allow them to work their way into the skin, calming those itch nerves. this is why i like to ice first to quickly numb, then apply these oils to prolong the itch relief.

when i get heat rash, this also helps immensely with managing the itching associated with it, speeding up healing. for my own skin, i find washing the affected skin with an anti-bacterial soap, keeping the skin as dry as possible (no applying oils or lotions, even aloe gel!) and relieving the itching with a muscle oil rub stuck is the speediest way to recovery.

in the US, you can find saje’s peppermint halo. i LOVE this stuff and use it everyday. i roll it onto my head, temples, neck and shoulders to help keep me calm in a busy day of work, in traffic or when i’m bored. it has that minty effect to help calm down any itchiness from bites!

TRUTHPASTE
i went camping at the south yuba river a year or two ago and totally forgot all my bug bite stuff. and of course, our campsite was buzzing with skeeters and were having at it on my face. so i went on a hunt to a “natural” store in town and thought to look for a bug bite salve. one lady behind the counter suggested i mix up some clay and essential oils to apply, but the other lady remembered an all-natural toothpaste they had which was basically the same thing, just fancier (plus already mixed up and ready to use). i was skeptical but desperate so i bought the stuff and lo and behold it worked.  so well in fact, that it’s actually changed my life.

preventing bug bites can be tough, but so long as you have the right tools to manage the itching, it’s not that bad at all. a little of this paste goes a long way, leaves no residue or stain, and is soooo effective. for me, just a dab of this pretty instantly calms down itching. i forget about the bite, and get on with enjoying my nature experience. it’s really been amazing how much quality of life enhancement and sense of relief this little product has given me. it comes in a glass 2oz jar, so i scoop some out into a smaller plastic jar to keep in my day bag and reapply as needed. one jar has literally lasted me years, and i freak out if i can’t find or forget it on my travels.

24 HOUR RULE (?)
so maybe i’m making this up, but it seems for me that most bites – so long as i don’t go crazy waking up those itch nerves by scratching them as soon as i get them – itch only once in a 12- or 24-hour cycle. i get bit, i employ any or all of the above post-bite tactics, and then i’m not bothered by them for another 12 or 24 hours. then after a few days, the itching subsides completely and the bites heal up and away. observing and knowing this has somehow calmed my nerves whenever i get into an itching frenzy.

THE AFTERMATH – PIGMENTATION
so hopefully you didn’t scratch the hell out of your skin, creating a wound and thus scarring. but if you did, you can still employ the tricks above and if you must, gently rub-and-not-quite-but-kinda-scratch around the bite/wound to relieve any itching as it heals. if there is pigmentation left behind, it will likely go away on its own, or you can use any of your active sS skin products (like your mandelic toner, skin brightener or vitamin a serum) to speed up the brightening of the spots left behind once the scab heals and falls off.

i hope these tips help you out and make natural outdoor time less miserable. these discoveries were a serious game changer for me and i hope it helps others too!

acne-safe travel tips

some quickie acne-safe travel tips!

 

  • charcoal pills & oregano oil / when traveling, you sometimes have to take risks when eating! sS founder and ceo, kim, likes to pack activated charcoal pills which absorb toxins and help with digestion & gastrointestinal discomfort. it’s best to take 2 hours prior to eating something questionable, or within 2 hours if you start to feel discomfort. oregano oil is also handy for this reason, with anti-fungal & anti-bacterial properties, it can help to prevent illnesses & infections that we are commonly more susceptible to while traveling. (taking one or two charcoal pills each hour with plenty of water will help stop diarrhea quickly, and the oregano oil should help with eliminating toxic bacteria. be advised that for a day or two after taking this supplement you may experience some constipation and dark/black movements, so drink lots of water and try to eat lots of insoluble fiber to help rebalance your gut). 

 

  • soap nuts /  we have quite a few globetrotters as clients who travel for long periods of time. this can be tricky when it comes to finding an acne-safe way to do laundry. since packing a gallon of laundry detergent isn’t really an option, these soap nuts would be a great alternative. soap nuts are actually dried berries from the himalayas that act as a surfactant when lathered up in the wash to naturally & thoroughly clean your laundry. they are travel-sized & can be reused up to 10 times 🙂

 

  • hydration – both inside + out/  we’ve all experience travel-induced breakouts and dehydrated skin (not to mention all-too-common constipation). travel is very stressful on the body and it’s important to take extra care and be proactive about your skin. topically, i like to add an extra layer of hydrating gel under my regular daytime moisturizer and bring a small bottle of rose water with me to regularly spritz my face during the trip. in the article, “why does food taste different on planes?”  by katia moskvitch, she notes that, ‘at about 30,000 feet, humidity is less than 12% – drier than most deserts.’ this can wreak havoc on your body and skin causing intense dehydration. add a cocktail in the mix and you’re guaranteed to wake up from your in-plane snooze with a headache. “the complete guide to surviving long-haul flights”, an article from the atlantic, recommends that you drink one liter of water for every 5 hours of air travel.

 

  • icing / if you haven’t heard it enough, we love icing 🙂 the benefits of inflammation control & prevention are invaluable. while traveling, our physical stress is at an all time high, so staying on top of icing is the best weapon for maintaining clear skin on the road. ideally, your airbnb will have a freezer so you can easily use your ice pop maker. in the case where you’re staying in a hotel without a freezer, we find it best to order a glass of ice from the hotel barand take it to-go, or get some ice from the ice machine and give the cubes a rinse before using. if the hotel has no bar or restaurant, the next best option is to pack sandwich bags and use ice from the ice machine. happy icing!

 

  • hand sanitizer and wipes / we all know the airplanes are a bacteria playground. to avoid getting sick, which tends to increase inflamed breakouts, it is good to bring hand sanitizer & pure alcohol wipes on the plane. use the wipes to clean the plane window, armrest, eating tray, etc.. we like the disinfecting wipes from “clean well”, or you can get a box of individual alcohol wipes in the first aid section of walgreens. i find these easy to keep in my wallet, and our esthetician kerry is convinced that this has been a game changer for her and her immune system while traveling. these wipes also come in handy to frequently wipe down the rims of my sunglasses and phone 🙂 be sure to avoid touching your face after using hand sanitizer, hand soap or lotion from the plane, both of which can be cloggy!

 

  • snacks/ airport and road trip food is often filled with dairy, soy and lots of salt. this article from BBC says that airplane food is heavily salted because lack of humidity and low pressure in the cabin decreases our ability to taste salt + sweet by 30%. not only can this heightened salt intake increase water retention making your body feel puffy, it can also irritate acne. forego the airport food and bring these snacks with you instead: justin’s single serving almond butter with apple chips (i’ve found these at most metropolitan airports lately), fresh fruit, a sandwich. keep leftover snacks from the trip with you in case you’re in a situation where you didn’t get much to eat at a meal that was dairy or soy heavy. foods that you pack tastes 1000% better than most airport food anyway!

 

 

  • prep your climate-sensitive skincare regimen/ it’s important to pack the right outfits according to your destination’s forecast 🙂 the same rule applies to your skin regimen! by simply changing up your cleanser and/or moisturizer, you can stay ahead of the climate. if you’re traveling to a hot + humid climate you may want to opt for a foaming cleanser (like the charcoal) and lighter moisturizer like hydrating gel instead of hydrating cream. also, lay off of harsh exfoliants like vitamin-a on days that you’re spending in the sun to reduce your chance of hyperpigmentation. if you’re traveling to a cold climate, opt for a heavier cleanser and moisturizer like our green tea cleanser and hydrating cream (you can even add a few drops of pure sunflower or safflower oil + mix it up in your palm for added moisture) to prevent dryness and cracking from cold temperatures and dry indoor heaters.

 
for both climates it’s good to have pure shea butter on hand. you can apply a thin layer of shea butter on your skin when spending the day in extreme cold, like when you’re skiing, and also in warm weather to protect your skin before dipping in the pool or the ocean.

 

  • neck pillows/ neck pillows are amazing, but they can also get extremely dirty and become problematic for your skin, similar to your pillow cases at home. it’s best to get one that has a washable cover to ensure it’s clean before each use, like this one 🙂 kim personally loves using this blow-up travel pillow, which packs light and small, adjusts to whatever fullness you’d like and can be very easily washed with soap and water.

 

  • linens/ it’s essential to bring your own washcloths and pillowcases with you so that you don’t have to use host’s or hotel’s that are washed in cloggy, fragranced laundry detergent and fabric softener. in addition, it can be embarrassing to bleach a host’s linens with benzoyl peroxide! bring one washcloth per day of travel. you can use the same one morning and night, but not into the next day. bring 1 pillowcase for every 3-5 days of travel. use one side of the pillowcase only to avoid the transfer of cloggy detergent or fabric softener from the sheets to your face or benzoyl peroxide residue from your face to their sheets.

 

  • REI co-op multitowel lite / if fussing with extra pillowcases is too much to deal with when on vacay, try buying one or two of these extra large travel quick dry towels from REI.  i love using them for travel as they dry quickly, can be a blanket for warmth or to sit on, and also as impromptu pillow cases…  i just fold it in half and lay it on top of the hotel pillows for a quick and easy acne-safe sleep! one of the best parts is, is that they go on sale during REI’s 2 annual sales, to about $15! (kim likes to use them to sit on the beach, and in rental cars or airbnb’s with questionable upholstery, etc). 

 

  • zyflamend/ zyflamend is an herbal supplement that lowers your body’s inflammation. This can be a great tool to prevent travel-induced breakouts. I find it helpful to take 2 before a flight and 1-2 per day on my trip as tolerated.

 

  • sleep/ sleep is extremely important for many reasons. when we are deprived of sleep, our inflammation increases and hormones can go out of balance, both of which can create a breakout. when traveling, our time zones often change and we tend to neglect sleep during this time when our bodies especially need it. when traveling, keep your sleep consistent. try to go to bed at the same time as you would if you were at home and be sure to get 8-9 hours of quality sleep each night. if your time zone is dramatically different, try to tune your body to the local sleep schedule right away.  for example, if you land at 1pm in switzerland, stay up until your normal bedtime back at home to quickly acclimate.  taking melatonin can help you fall asleep, and apparently a brisk run first thing in the morning (no matter how groggy you are) can help quickly get your body acclimated to local time.

 

  • birth control/ if you take a birth control pill, take it every 24 hours – NOT the same time in local time (ie, 9am in SF = 12noon in NYC would be the right time to take your pill). when traveling to different time zones, your pill schedule can easily get messed up. even taking it 1 hour off can cause a fluctuation in your hormones, which can affect your skin.  

founder’s letter – next chapters for sS in 2017

celebrating 9 years. not pictured is blakely at the front desk who’s joined team sS just last week 🙂

GRATITUDE.
i’ve got to always start with gratitude. we live such good lives. we are amazingly fortunate to have access to most everything we could ever want or need here in the bay. it’s easy to forget to honor ourselves, and so i’d like to..
THANK YOU so much for choosing to invest in yourself! the time, resources, and hard work you put in everyday for your self-care and wellbeing is a really big deal.
THANK YOU choosing sS to partner with in helping you on that journey for over 9 years!
THANK YOU for your support in my business, the intelligent and wonderful women running it, our local economy, and by extension, me!
our single clinic in SF has helped thousands of people clear up for good, and hundreds more remotely. this past spring we celebrated 9 years of doing this work, and you are a part of making that happen.
gratitude + love + light to YOU!

feeling happy and healthy, with wild elephants in sri lanka

KIM’S OOO. date of return, TBD…
after 9 years, i’ve officially moved away from the day-to-day operations of sS SF (!!!). i’ve been given the opportunity to make progress with sS in different inspiring locations, and the SF location of sS will be in the hands of general and assistant managers, liesse jones and lacey mons.
liesse is a licensed esthetician overseeing the entire clinic with the help of lacey, who runs the operations side of sS.  L2 (as i like to call them) + our amazing team are upholding the high standards upon which i’ve built sS, and are building it to be bigger and better than i ever could on my own. i am grateful and fortunate to have these women on my team to take good care of you!
as i concentrate solely on self care + the growth of sS:
  • i have retired from the treatment room and am no longer administering treatments. you are honestly in great hands with any of my estheticians – we have trained them to be the best of the best in SF! (ask about our training process the next time you’re in for treatment)
  • all client related inquiries will be managed by L2 on my behalf, and i will contribute as i am able.

 

i thank you so much your continued trust and support of sS with this exciting transition. 🙂
sS’s NEW THINGS TO COME
sS is now in this really exciting growth phase. all of these are works in progress and we’ll let you know when they launch. some of what’s launching in 2017:
  • MORE NATUROPATHIC DOCTORS! i’ve been meeting with and getting to know several in the bay area to widen our network of experts to help our clients that need it. more on this on our blog as we complete our research 🙂
  • NEW ONLINE STUFF. in our shop, we’ve got new product photos up and will soon implement a subscription option for your favorite sS essentials (thanks to sS’er JN for the nudge!). on our site, we’ll be adding some video content and on our IG, lacey’s stepping up our visuals while continuing to preach the lifestyle gospel with practical, everyday acne-safe life hacks.
  • LOYALTY PROGRAM. as gesture of appreciation to our most loyal clients, we’re launching a loyalty program so you can earn credits towards future sS purchases!
  • REPLICATION. liesse and the SF clinic team are working hard to standardize our clinic model so that we can empower others to open up sS clinics of their own all over the world.
  • THE BOOK. once i leave SF and have my workflow sorted, i’ll be able to finally finish up the book that will empower people and change lives beyond the walls of our clinic in SF.
be sure to follow us on instagram, our blog and these same emails for updates.
thank you for your support and patience as our lean team makes small biz magic happen!

had to get a photo of this woman hustling behind me – on her bike, laptop AND cell phone. she could very well be getting her sS on, remotely!

GET REMOTE CARE + SUPPORT.
book your consult or follow-up appointment by phone or skype if you can’t get into our SF office! just book online, and notate it’s a remote session. (we are soon piloting a 1 hour remote consult appointment format, yay!)
and a bonus for all sS clients! if you’ve ever come in or bought anything from us: we are piloting a remote client-support program to see how we can better care for our clients. email us to schedule a free 15 minute phone call with one of our expert estheticians for skincare product counsel.we want to make sure you are using the right products for your skin, optimized for travel, seasonal, climate, hormonal changes.

follow me on instagram: @kimsthecoolest

K.I.T.
stay informed. link up with us on IG (@skinsalvationacneclinic), our blog or these emails and be the first to know of all our new launches. (we also post last minute appointment openings & clinic closures for team building events/meetings/trainings on IG)
see what i’m up to, and the world through my lens. follow my personal account on IG at @kimsthecoolest and keep in touch with me that way.
real talk: all of your support has got me this far (9+ years!), and the real, raw feedback you provide directly informs how i will choose to grow sS’s outreach to empower everyone, everywhere. please email me any and all thoughts you have about my company. your opinions are my gold!
cheers to positive growth, exploration and discovery into new chapters of life, and thank you again for your love and support!

holiday travel essentials for clear skin

 

airplane travel and acne

snacks

airport and road trip food is often filled with dairy, soy and lots of salt. this article from BBC says that airplane food is heavily salted because lack of humidity and low pressure in the cabin decreases our ability to taste salt + sweet by 30%. not only can this heightened salt intake increase water retention making your body feel puffy, it can also irritate acne. forego the airport food and bring these snacks with you instead:

  • justin’s single serving almond butter with apple chips (i’ve found these at most metropolitan airports lately)
  • fresh fruit
  • a sandwich

keep leftover snacks from the trip with you in case you’re in a situation where you didn’t get much to eat at a meal that was dairy or soy heavy.

hydration

moskvitch also writes in her article, why does food taste different on planes? that, “at about 30,000 feet, humidity is less than 12% – drier than most deserts.” this can wreck havoc on your body and skin causing intense dehydration. add a cocktail in the mix and you’re guaranteed to wake up from your in-plane snooze with a headache. this article from the atlantic recommends that you drink one liter of water for every 5 hours of air travel.

topically, i like to add an extra layer of hydrating gel under my regular daytime moisturizer and bring a small bottle of rose water with me to regularly spritz my face during the trip.

hydration and acne

if you’re traveling to a warm climate

  • your regimen! you may want to opt for a lighter moisturizer like hydrating gel instead of hydrating cream if you’re traveling to a hot + humid climate. also, lay off of harsh exfoliants like vitamin a on days that you’re spending in the sun to reduce your chance of hyper-pigmentation.

if you’re traveling to a cold climate

linens

it’s essential to bring your own washcloths and pillowcases with you so that you don’t have to use host’s or hotel’s that are washed in cloggy laundry detergent and fabric softener. in addition, it can be embarrassing to bleach a host’s linens with benzoyl peroxide!

bring one washcloth per day of travel. you can use the same one morning and night, but not into the next day. bring 1 pillow case for every 3-5 days of travel. use one side of the pillowcase only to avoid the transfer of cloggy detergent or fabric softener from the sheets to your face or benzoyl peroxide residue from your face to their sheets.

acne-safe pillowcase

to prevent travel induced inflammation

  • ice! bring your ice pop maker if you’ll be at a host’s house or in a hotel with a freezer. if you don’t have access to a freezer, you can ask the hotel bar or concierge to bring you a glass of ice or get a few cubes from the ice machine.
  • take zyflamend each night to help reduce and prevent inflammation.
  • stick to the acne-safe diet by avoiding dairy, soy and coffee completely and limiting your sugar and alcohol intake.
  • keep your sleep consistent. try to go to bed at the same time as you would if you were at home and be sure to get 8-9 hours of quality sleep each night.
  • if you take a birth control pill, take it every 24 hours. that may a different time of day than at home because of a time change.
  • have fun, breathe deeply, relax your mind an body, enjoy time spent with loved ones or for yourself.