Quandary: Are there any natural sunscreens?
Are there any natural sunscreens?
There are a two different types of sunscreen in the world: chemical and blocking. Chemical sunscreens are what you buy in the store, and can’t be found on the trail. Well, I suppose you might find a bottle that fell out of someone else’s pack, but I don’t think that counts.
Much like a 300-lb. hog-molly protecting his quarterback, blocking sunscreen gets in between you and the sun. It can be as simple as wearing a long-sleeved shirt or as complex as building some buckskin attire, if you are looking to show off some skills and fashion sense. If you find yourself on the trail without any kind of blocking protection, there are a couple different natural remedies. Instead of quaking in your boots as the sun looms overhead, find yourself a quaking aspen instead. The residue found on the trunk of aspen trees can provide a barrier between you and the sun. Now, that doesn’t mean you can give up purchasing sunscreen and retire a tanned and wealthy man, as it sadly it only provides the equivalent of SPF 5 protection.
If rubbing up on a tree doesn’t sound like your idea of a good time, you can take the secret agent’s edition of a hike instead. In this version, run from shadow to shadow until you find a large enough mud puddle to go for a swim. The mud and shade will both block you from the sun. Another easy way to minimize your sun exposure is by going out early in the morning or in the evening. As the past couple of weeks have shown, the evening might come with its own set of issues, such as thunderstorms.
Say your sun-evasion doesn’t work, and you still end up redder than a ripe tomato; there are also natural methods to deal with your sunburn. If you discover your burn mid-hike, again remember that the shadows are your friend. Also, a cool stream can help to alleviate some of the stinging and pain from the burn. You can even make a cold compress using an extra clothing layer and water. This will also help to make the pain go away at least until you can get home and plop down on the couch with some ice packs. Aloe vera, jewelweed and witch hazel all have medicinal properties which are good for a sunburn as well. Jewelweed does naturally occur in Colorado and can be identified by yellow-orange flowers and it generally pops up near streams. It is also a valuable aid for insect bites and poison ivy.
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