Warning: Be Careful Even When Using Natural Products


My husband and I can be going for a walk or a hike and mosquitoes will almost always swarm him. They love whatever chemical or hormone it is that he has circulating through his bloodstream into his pores. The worst part of it all, is that he’s also hyper sensitive to their bites, so he sometimes ends up looking like a lumpy red, pin cushion.

As I have mentioned before, I consider myself a Hippie Hedonist, and part of my hedonistic nature is to travel to the Caribbean and of course, they have all manner of biting insects there! Just before our last trip, we realized, just as we were leaving, that we forgot to pack any bug spray! Eeek!

So, I grabbed an empty spray bottle and without measuring, I put in witch hazel, apple cider vinegar, citronella, lavender, lemongrass and cinnamon essential oils. Now remember, we were heading to catch a plane, so this was done “on the fly”.

While on our vacation, sitting out on our beautiful, hot balcony every morning and at dusk, we were swarmed by these tiny black biting bugs. Maybe they were no-see-ums ? Not sure, but they were brutal little biters! Of course, we had our handy, dandy spray and used it liberally. The spray smelled lovely and kept the bugs at bay.

The only problem that I noticed was that my skin was stinging a little and after a few days’ application, I had a slight rash on my arm, right around my elbow. I couldn’t figure it out right away, but then noticed that when I sprayed the quickie bug spray on that area, it would sting. What the heck was going on?

Remember I said that I never actually measured the ingredients? Well, as it turns out, I had too much apple cider vinegar in my formulation! Perfect for keeping the bugs away, but as it turned out, really bad for my skin!

Why, you might ask? Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) is touted as a cure all for just about everything from arthritis to acne to age spots to high blood pressure etc. etc. You get the idea. What you need to know is just how acidic ACV is! Our skin generally sits at a healthy pH of 7. Apple Cider Vinegar sits at about a pH of 3.

According to Chemwiki: “The pH scale is logarithmic, meaning that an increase or decrease of an integer value changes the concentration by a tenfold. For example, a pH of 3 is ten times more acidic than a pH of 4. Likewise, a pH of 3 is one hundred times more acidic than a pH of 5. Similarly a pH of 11 is ten times more basic than a pH of 10.”

Basically, the ACV was too strong in my formulation and was burning my skin! So, the bottom line is that even ingredients that are natural or organic, if used incorrectly, may actually cause you harm.

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