Bug Off!!!

Is your backyard full of mosquitoes at night? Well, that's not fun! There are many options for keeping the bugs away in your backyard paradise. From sprays to lights, we're going to take a look at the different options...

Bug Zapping Lights

Such a thing exists! You can strategically hang bug zapping lights around your yard anywhere you have an electrical outlet. This is a non-chemical way to prevent mosquitoes in your yard and pool area. Here are a few to consider:

Torches

If you are looking for some torches to provide ambient light and keep the bugs away, there are many options. The traditional Tikki torch with bug fuel is a very popular and effective way to go. Tabletop torches are also an option and they come in a wide variety of styles. We like these on Amazon:

Candles etc.

If you aren't excited about torches, perhaps a candle will suit your buggy needs. There are lots of options with candles, both natural repellent and stronger, more chemical ones. Here are just a few we found on Amazon:

 

Bug Spray

Bug sprays can be full of DEET or full of more environmentally friendly ingredients. Some sprays have a higher percentage of DEET than others, so read the label carefully. It is a personal preference, so here are a few options for both:

Wearable Protection

You can wear your bug protection! There are some practical and whimsical options for this category:

Ticks

You can't really escape ticks anymore, they seem to be everywhere. Unfortunately, Lyme's disease has become a reality for many. Doing what you can, and having what you need in case you need to remove ticks from yourself, a family member or a pet, is so important. Here are a few items that you might want to consider during this busy outdoor season:

It is going to be a hot and humid summer! Plan ahead and be prepared for buggy nights by the pool or in your backyard!

 

 

I've Got Sunburn--Now What?

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If you spent a day in the sun at the beach or in your pool without sun protection of any kind, chances are you are feeling pretty sore and your skin is red. You may also be peeling like the guy in the photo above. It may seem like the pain is never going to go away, but in time it will. There are, however, a few things you can do to minimize the pain and length of the burn.

Let's take a look at some of the most popular sunburn remedies...but remember, we're not doctors and this isn't medical advice:

1. Drink lots of water! Your skin needs hydration all the time, but when you are badly sunburned it really needs water!

2. Slice up some cucumbers! That's right, cucumbers! Cucumbers will soothe your burning skin and draw out the heat. If you can get your hands on some Cucumber Hydrosol, that is even better. Spritz yourself with the hydrosol as often as you can! We love all the hydrosols at Pompeii Organics, but when we have sunburn in our house we couldn't live without their Cucumber Hydrosol!

3. Cool down with a cool bath! In the bath you could add some oatmeal and milk, two other natural ingredients that will help soothe your burning skin. Since milk contains lactic acid, it is good for sunburn. This lactic acid will help to gently exfoliate the dead skin cells and it will also draw the heat away from the skin. Make sure you use cold milk! 

You could also lather up with a quality natural soap that won't strip your skin of moisture like this one from Pompeii Street Soap:

Other ingredients that are known to help with sunburn that can be added to the bath are Baking Soda and Lavender Essential Oil. We prefer this brand of Lavender Essential Oil from Pompeii Organics: 

If you prefer to use Amazon Prime, we like Plant Therapy. Just make sure you have a carrier oil or some kind of fat like whole milk (not skim) in the bath so that the essential oil is diluted safely:

4. Aloe! Find an aloe plant or get your hands on some Aloe Vera Gel that is 100% natural. If it is neon green in a plastic bottle, it is not real! We like this Aloe Vera Gel from Pompeii Organics, a local company in Mifflinburg, PA. 

Plant Therapy also has an aloe vera gel and their gel has Lavender essential oil already in it:

5. Apple Cider Vinegar! Yes, you read that right! Soak some cool washcloths in ACV and gently let the vinegar soak into your burned skin. You can also make a mask with clay and ACV to really draw out the heat and reduce the inflammation. We suggest you use the real kind of ACV, like this one that we found on Amazon along with a great clay:

6. Yogurt! If you don't feel like soaking in a cool bath of milk, generously coat your burned areas with yogurt. Just like milk, the lactic acid in yogurt will help draw out the heat and exfoliate the dead skin cells. Leave the yogurt on as long as you can and then gently wipe it away with a moist cool cloth or even baby wipes.

7. Motrin, Advil, or Aleve can also take away some of the discomfort of sunburn. A sunburn is skin that is inflamed. These over the counter remedies will help reduce the swelling and maybe curb the pain a little. Check with your physician if you aren't sure about taking any of these!  Remember, we're not doctors and we're not offering medical advice!

8. Shea butter! Shea butter has many incredible moisturizing and healing properties for your burned skin. Add a couple drops of Lavender Essential Oil, Carrot Seed Essential Oil or Palmarosa Essential Oil and you will make your skin happy! You should go with raw Shea butter like this one from Plant Therapy:

9. Mango Butter! Just like Shea butter, Mango butter has therapeutic properties that your sore, burned skin needs. Add the same oils we suggested you use with Shea butter. Again, we trust Plant Therapy for this one:

Now that you know what to do with red, inflamed skin, how about blisters? How might you handle skin that is blistered and oozing? Well, remember that a sunburn is a REAL BURN. If you have blisters and they are oozing anything, we suggest you call your doctor or go to Med Express if it is the weekend. Sometimes the kitchen remedies passed down from Grandma just aren't going to cut it! 

After your skin calms down and the redness and inflammation have subsided, consider taking better care of your skin! Always wear sunscreen or sunblock, especially if you are spending sunny afternoons in your pool. If you missed our blog posts about the differences between UVA and UVB, and how to select the right sunscreen, go HERE and HERE

Find a good moisturizer, one that is as natural as can be. For your face, find a quality face serum, which is used before you apply face lotion, like this one:

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If you use a face moisturizer that is different from your body moisturizer in the daytime, make sure it has an SPF of 15 or higher and has broad spectrum protection. Here are a few that we prefer in our house:

And here are a few body lotions and creams that are great before bed that we like on Amazon:

We hope you stay safe in the sun all summer while you enjoy your pool!

Staying Sun Safe (Part 3)

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If you haven't read Staying Safe in the Sun Part 1 and Part 2, make sure you do!

Chances are pretty good that if you forgot to put sunscreen on your face and body, you also forgot to put it on your lips! Your lips are completely different type of skin and really need protection. Here's why:

Your lips are moistened every time you eat and drink. Because of this, any sunscreen lip balm you have on your lips is often not on very long. The skin on your lips is thinner, too. Because your lips have thinner skin, you are at more risk for lip cancer, especially if you work in the outdoors and do not daily wear a lip sunscreen of at least SPF 20. Your lips also are a prominent feature on your face. If they are wet, they will reflect the light and dangerous UVB rays can cause a harsh sunburn. Even worse, dangerous UVA rays can cause permanent cellular damage in the deepest layers of your lips! 

Treating sunburned lips is similar to treating other kinds of sunburn. Since the skin is thinner, lips that are sunburned may blister whereas other areas of the body that are sunburned may not blister. The good news is that lip blisters from sunburn will most likely heal on their own without much intervention from you or a doctor. But if they are really painful and you have a lot of blisters, PLEASE go see your doctor!

Here are a few tips to help the healing process, but remember we are not physicians and these are tips not medical advice or instructions:

1. Stay out of the sun until your lips heal. That means if you burned your lips the first pool day of the summer, you better stay inside for a few days. The more you expose your lips to the sun's rays the longer the healing process will take. Also, re-exposing already sunburned lips means even more damage can be done.

2. Watch what you put in your mouth! Use a straw when drinking so that you can avoid contact between your lips and the cup. You may want to also stay away from "hot" beverages. Spicy food might also be something you want to stay away from, too.

3. If you use an ointment of any kind, make sure you avoid petroleum-based products and lotions that contain benzocaine or lidocaine. These will actually cause a very bad burning sensation that will no doubt leave you even more uncomfortable. Instead, opt for a natural or organic product. In our house we use Waxelene when other people would use Vaseline. You can find Waxelene on Amazon and we love it! It is our "go to" ointment for chapped lips, cuts and scrapes, and a great carrier base for essential oils when needed.

Waxelene is non-petroleum based, all natural, eco friendly, biodegradable, and has no GMOs. It is very skin moisturizing, offers great protection for your lips, feet or anywhere you need some extra moisture. Coat your feet in it and go to bed with socks on and you will wake up to super soft feet! It has a pleasant odor, too! It comes in a tube or a jar, so it is easy to apply no matter where you find yourself with burnt lips or calloused feet!

Another product we've used with great success when burns are really bad, is All Good Goop. This is a jar of heaven for your lips and skin. If you have any kind of skin trauma, I cannot say enough good things about the healing properties I've witnessed first hand with All Good Goop. Like Waxelene, this is a natural product with nothing but the finest ingredients. All Good Goop is great for cuts, scrapes, abrasions, minor burns, sunburn, insect bites, stings, dry skin, chapped lips, diaper rash, blisters, cracked hands, callouses, scars, and so much more. It is small batch handcrafted in a Solar Powered Kitchen and made with Certified Organic Herbs and Olive Oil, including hand harvested calendula (another great herb for skin issues) from the farm belonging to the owner of All Good Goop. This heavenly salve provides nutrients for the skin to help your skin regenerate new tissue and heal wounds. This salve is astringent, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal. Yeah, it's a powerhouse of skin healing goodness in a jar. And the smell? Think of fresh lavender and and green herbs!

4. Cool and moist! Keep your lips cool and moist. You can do this with just cold water or you could ramp things up and use some Aloe gel, the natural kind from the pulp of the Aloe Vera Plant. We get our Aloe from Pompeii Organics. If you have essential oils on hand, you can make a roller ball blend with Aloe and just 3 drops of lavender in 5 ml of Aloe gel. Pompeii has 5 ml  roller bottles in stock and they also have lavender essential oil. After you cap your roller ball bottle with the Aloe/Lavender blend inside, simply roll it on your lips as often as you think of it. The goal is to keep your lips moist as much as possible. If you have ever had an issue with lavender essential oil or lavender in general, stay on the safe side and just put the Aloe gel in the roller ball bottle.

5. Wear a hat with a brim wide enough to shield your whole face, not just your nose and eyes. A lot of people don't even realize that their hat or visor isn't shading their lips. Next time you pick out a hat to wear while you read in your pool in your water hammock, first check and see if the sun is hitting your lips. If it is, and you don't have another hat that will shade your whole face, lather up the sunscreen on your face and use a lip balm with an SPF of 20 or higher. Do this all the time, not just when you have already burned your lips from too much sun.

6. Wear a lip balm that has an SPF of at least 20 when you know your lips will be in direct sunlight or reflected light off the surface of a pool, lake or ocean. If you ski, remember to do this in the winter before you hit the slopes, too. Here are a few lip balms the American Dermatology Association recommends:

Keeping your lips safe in the sun is just as important as keeping the rest of your body safely covered in sun protection.

Tomorrow we'll tackle how to handle sunburn!

Staying Sun Safe (Part 2)

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Yesterday we learned about the harmful UVA rays that you need to protect yourself from every day of the year. Go read Stay Safe in the Sun (Part 1) if you missed it...

UVB rays from the sun are the reason your skin turns red when you have been out in the sun too long, or if you have forgotten to apply sunscreen. UVB rays burn just the top epidermis layer of your skin. That is why you see your skin actually turn red and burn. If you aren't wearing sunscreen and spend hours in the sun, you are frying your skin!  UVB rays are most dangerous between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. between April and October. That means to remember your sunscreen and sunblock when you are hanging poolside this summer!

UVB rays are also dangerous because they are reflective rays. Did you ever go skiing in the winter on a sunny day and come home with a red, sun burned face? That's the UVB rays reflecting off the snow and ice and onto your face. Think about your pool water--that is also a reflective surface that UVB rays will bounce off of and onto you. 80% of the sun's UVB rays will do a "double bounce" and you will get hit with twice as many UVB rays if you are near a reflective surface like water or snow.

In our last post we discussed using sunscreens and sunblocks that are 30 SPF or higher, water resistant and have UVA/UVB broad-spectrum protection. Today, let's take a look at clothing and accessories that offer protection from both UVA and UVB rays...

Sun shirts, or rash guards as they are commonly called, are a great way to stay in the sun and water and avoid the harmful rays. With a SPF of 50 or higher, these shirts will block the sun while you are on the water. These shirts are designed to dry quickly and are often very lightweight. Not all rash guards have an SPF! You need to look at the tag or product description to verify that the shirt is indeed a sun protection shirt suitable for swimming. Remember, you will still need sunscreen on your face and legs!

Here are a few standouts in the SPF 50 rash guard department:

Hats are a great way to avoid sun on your face! Floppy hats will really do the job, but if you don't have a floppy hat go for a baseball hat or visor. But remember to still put sunscreen on your face! The UVB rays reflecting off the water will still harm your skin, even if you are wearing a hat! Check out these hat selections from Amazon:

Last, but certainly not least, remember to wear sunglasses! Just as the sun's rays reflect off the water and can harm your skin, your eyes are also in danger of damage from the sun. Make sure you wear sunglasses that indicate they offer protection from UVA/UVB rays! Here are some good choices on Amazon:

                    Baby Sunglasses

                    Baby Sunglasses

Our family is a BIG fan of the Stuff You Should Know podcast. Josh and Chuck have taught us about more subjects than I think anyone in the world! Anytime we're in the car for more than 45 minutes we stream a "Stuff Guys" podcast. As it turns out, Chuck and Josh did a great podcast on Sunburn, Suntan and Sunscreen. Check it out by clicking on their banner--it is free!

 

For more tips on sun safety, visit our Pinterest page:

https://www.pinterest.com/clearwater0127/clearwater-safe-summer/

 

 

 

 

 

Staying Sun Safe (Part 1)

Summer days in the pool can be great fun, but what about the sun? Do you regularly have sunscreen ready to apply your skin? Today we're going to highlight some of the latest sun and skin care products on the market. From sunblock to sunscreen and everything in between, let's learn about sun safety and UVA rays...

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Are you familiar with these terms UVA and UVB? You should be! You need a sun protection product that tackles both the harmful rays of UVA and UVB. Both UVA and UVB is radiation from the sun. Yes, you read that right--radiation. These rays penetrate the earth's surface and are invisible to the naked eye. Today, let's take a look at UVA rays...

Basically, UVA rays are the sun rays that are there all the time, even when you don't think they are because it is cloudy. Have you heard that you can get sun burnt even on a cloudy day? Well, you can. That's the UVA factor you need to pay attention to every day of the year, not just in the summer. UVA rays penetrate deep into the thickest layer of your skin. This is the reason sun damage from UVA rays causes premature aging and skin damage. UVA rays are also the skin cancer enemy! Skin cancer is formed by UVA rays damaging your skin at the deepest level! UVA rays are even dangerous coming through car windows and the windows of your home! That is why many windows are now tinted to help protect you from the UVA rays. There are also sun protection screens that you can put on your car windows that aren't just for the baby in the backseat, but also the driver and front passenger windows.

Did you ever notice that the left side of your face and the left arm is more tan or has more sun damage than your right arm? That's because of UVA rays coming through the car window when you drive! Here's a set of car sun shades we found on Amazon that you might consider, especially if you spend a lot of time behind the wheel:

Consider keeping a sunscreen stick in your car so you can apply it on the go if you know you are going to be in the car for a long period of time and you don't own car window sun shades. Here is a good one we found on Amazon and it is currently cheaper than this same product in stores and since it is a Prime product, you get free shipping if you are a Prime Member:

Since this is a solid stick formula, your hands won't get all messy applying it! Roll it on your arm and face as needed.

Unlike the feeling you get from exposure to UVB rays and the sunburn these rays give, UVA rays cause damage you can't even feel! That's why UVA rays are so damaging. It is easy to forget about them when you are indoors, in your car, or outside on a cloudy day. If you can't see the sun shining down on you it is easy to forget your sunscreen!

To protect yourself against UVA rays, go with a sunscreen that has an SPF of 30 or higher, is water resistant and is labeled with these words: UVA/UVB Broadspectrum.

Here are a few of the best sunscreens on the market according to the American Dermatology Association:

Zinc Oxide is a popular ingredient in sunscreen and sunblock. It is also an ingredient that is natural and safe as far as toxicity is concerned. There are many sunscreen ingredients that are widely considered to be toxic. To get the full list, this website is a great resource: https://www.ewg.org/sunscreen/report/the-trouble-with-sunscreen-chemicals/#.WyqGo6dKjIU

Here are some of the highest rated zinc oxide sunblocks on the market that you can easily order on Amazon since Clearwater is an Amazon Affiliate. As an Amazon Affiliate, we will be highlighting products on our website that we do not sell in any of our stores simply because our customers can get the products at a better price on Amazon. So, even though Amazon is not a company local to you like Clearwater, you can still support our small business and enjoy the convenience of Amazon Prime prices and free shipping. Not an Amazon Prime member? You should consider it!

So here are the zinc oxide sun protection products that are Clearwater Standouts because of the low toxicity of the ingredients (some are even certified organic). Just click on the image to get taken to the product on Amazon:

Next time we will highlight more information about UVB rays and what you can do to minimize exposure. Meanwhile, check out some of our Sun Safety pins on Pinterest:

https://www.pinterest.com/clearwater0127/clearwater-safe-summer/

Festive on the Fourth

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Our pool customers always get excited when we get close to the 4th of July! Pool parties and cookouts just seem to go together with the holiday! We've put together a Pinterest board FULL of 4th of July ideas. We've also found some things on Amazon that you can order in time for your patriotic pool party! 

Some of the images will take you to that product on Amazon. Please click and check it out :)

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From patriotic recipes to games, to cocktails and mocktails--we've got your covered in red, white and blue! Head on over to Pinterest!

Ready to get festive? Happy 4th of July!!!

https://www.pinterest.com/clearwater0127/clearwater-4th-of-july/

Are You Aqua-Fit?

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Have you heard that you can get in shape just by exercising in your pool? Well, you can! This summer, Clearwater will be posting lots of ideas about utilizing your pool and hot tub to build strength, trim down and get your heart rate going!

Today let's take a look at arm exercises...

Aqua Dumbbells can be purchased online or at your local sporting goods store. We found a nice pair and started using them to strengthen our arm and back muscles. Boy did they make a difference! Here are a few exercises that you can do with a pair of Aqua Dumbbells--try and do 10 repetitions of each set:

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Start with these arm exercise, but remember to check with your doctor if you are at all uncertain if aqua exercises are a good idea for you! Also, remember that you are using the pool's water as resistance! It may not seem like you are doing a lot, but you are! Start slow!

Check out Henry's daily Facebook video--he loves to use the Aqua Dumbbells: https://www.facebook.com/groupclearwater/videos/10157339633227977/

More aqua exercises can be found on our Pinterest page:

https://www.pinterest.com/clearwater0127/clearwater-pools-aqua-exercise/

Fire Pit Envy

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Fire pits have been a very popular design feature for several years, and this season there are even more creative ways to bring your fire pit to life in your pool and landscape design!

Whether you go for the traditional round fire pit or something more modern, make sure you find a way to bring the heat to your backyard paradise! As a year-round backyard feature, a fire pit will be great for seasonal parties and winter warm ups! You can also go with a propane fire pit option, especially if keeping a stack of wood nearby is an issue. With a propane powered fire pit your fire pit is ready with the turn of a switch!

Also new on the design scene are fire pits that also serve as a water feature for your pool or landscape. There are so many options for fire pits these days!

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Fire pits can even be incorporated into your pool's water feature:

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Check out all the Fire Pit ideas we've collected on Pinterest:

https://www.pinterest.com/clearwater0127/clearwater-fire-pits/

Dark Liners for Dramatic Pools

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Is it time for a new liner? Is your liner faded and ready to be replaced? Consider going with a darker liner! Clearwater has several dark liner designs that will have you convinced that a dark liner is the way to go...

The liner choices we carry that will give your pool this dramatic, dreamy look are Royal Sapphire, Midnight Quartz, Black Galaxy and Aquarius. For a classic, clean look go with a Full Floor liner (no tile border)!

Look how dreamy and dramatic a dark liner can make your pool:

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Ready to take your pool to a deeper, darker level? Stop in any of our three locations and start the process! We have more ideas for dark liners on our Pinterest board:

https://www.pinterest.com/clearwater0127/clearwater-dark-pool-liners/

Take the Plunge...

The world is abuzz with the "Tiny House" movement! Have you seen any of the amazing Tiny House designs on HGTV or DIY? Check it out--there are so many tiny spaces around the world that are tiny and unique! Just as the world is looking towards minimalist living and all things "tiny," the pool world is also looking at a trend in what we at Clearwater like to call "Plunge Pools." 

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Plunge Pools are basically a "tiny" version of the traditional backyard pool. The "tiny" twist is in the size and shape. Take for instance the Plunge Pool above that our creative designer, Tim Wenrich, crafted for a Central PA client who was looking for a small pool with style that would blend into their E.P. Henry hardscape. Isn't that a great looking Plunge Pool? Even the dog looks like he loves it! Here is a view from above--see how the Plunge Pool is incorporated into the paver wall? Isn't that a great use of space?

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There are many ways Clearwater can take a small backyard and create a backyard paradise with a Plunge Pool. Don't let the size of your yard limit your dream to have a pool! A Plunge Pool can have a liner just as the large backyard inground pools do, as well as a heat pump. Think how much you will save since you only have to heat a "tiny" pool!

A Plunge Pool can be above ground, incorporated into your retaining wall as Tim did above, or it can be inground, surrounded by gardens and rich landscape features. Plunge Pools make excellent garden accents! Add a water feature and it will be very relaxing to sit by your Plunge Pool in your lush garden! 

Check out some of our favorite Plunge Pool designs:

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Have you now got the "tiny" ideas going around in your head for a Plunge Pool? Check out even more Plunge Pool ideas on our Pinterest board:

https://www.pinterest.com/clearwater0127/clearwater-plunge-pools/