Raise your hand if you are glad summer is right around the corner!
I know that I am ecstastic that I can now leave the neoprene behind, kick off the booties, and enjoy paddling in boardies and lightweight paddle tops! But the advent of the warm paddle season means our skin, shrouded from the elements during the long winter months, is now exposed. Hands are prone to blisters, now that we are not wearing gloves and/or are paddling longer because we have the daylight to do so. We have to be mindful of the sun and those pesky UV rays and their affects on our skin. Being outside more means more little bumps and scrapes, too.
So what’s paddler to do?
There are three products that I couldn’t live without during this time of year – Elemental Herb’s All Good Goop, Banx Block sunscreen and M.J. Herbals Arnica Salve. This trifecta of balms keeps my hands happy, my skin from being crispified, and those bumps and bruises from becoming bigger aches and pains. I couldn’t paddle without them.
All good for the Hands
I stumbled onto All Good Goop in my REI store. I was initially attracted to it by its nice lavender smell. Not overpowering, not too floral. But earthy. Just the smell of it is soothing. And no wonder – lavender has been known to help with anxiety and restlessness. It is also believed to be an anti-inflammatory and analgesic. In addition, it contains calendula and comfrey, as well as yarrow. All of these herbs are believed to be anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and promoters of healing. It’s in a nice beeswax and olive oil base, but it is not greasy. It is quickly absorbed by the skin and is great for hot spots, blisters, scrapes, chapped and chaffed skin, After a long or hard paddle, I always rub some into my hands. And it is great in the winter too, when dry cold air attacks my lips and the skin around the tips of my fingernails.
When Katie previously wrote about Banx Block, she referred to it as the sunscreen for people who hate sunscreen. And she is right – this stuff makes me want to use it. It is by far the best UV protection I have ever slathered on my pail Anglo-Celtic, freckle specked skin. It is mineral based and reef safe. Zinc is the primary ingredient, so you don’t need a lot of this stuff to protect you from the harmful rays of the sun. It spreads evenly and is not oily. It absolutely positively will not sweat or drip into your eyes. And it is so long-lasting that I have been known not to reapply during a full day’s outing on the board. Even when I have been in and out of the water a lot. And nary a single burn! Getting the stuff off is extremely difficult! Seriously!! Best. Sunscreen. Ever. Period.
Last Saturday while teaching SUP at one of our area lakes, one of my students was wrestling with a fin. It was stuck in a very tight fin box. I offered to help her get it out, and as I was working it up and down, it suddenly disengaged and flew into my face, giving me the first fat lip I have had since I got into a fight in Sunday School on Easter Sunday when I was five.
Ice was not readily available. But in my car was my little container of MJ Herbal’s Arnica salve. I applied that stuff, and by the time I got home, the swelling was down. Arnica is a fanatic anti-inflammatory. It can be used in a topical form, like this salve, or it can be taken orally in pill form. On bruises, though, it is awesome. It reduces discoloration and pain. You can buy it in tubes, but usually that form can be greasy. It can be in an alcohol or water base. This salve is soothing and a bit tacky, not unlike the consistency of the All Good Goop. It is an amazing addition to the first aid kit.
I would be completely remiss if I did not mention my devotion to Udderly Smooth Udder Cream. No, not Bag Balm- the vaseliney stuff that comes in the square tin. No, this is a very smooth cream that comes in a tube or tub covered in black and white cow spots. It is simply amazing for sun burn, saddle sores from cycling, rashes or really anything that involves your skin. I always keep some of that around because of it’s healing properties. It makes a great daily moisturizer too.
All four of these creams and salves should be in every paddlers’ kit. Your body will thank you.
Do you have a favorite balm or ointment to help with summer paddler skin ailments? Let us know!