Bugs, bugs, bugs. If there were a place called “Bugville”, I’d be the mayor. Unwillingly voted in by its citizens, due to their undying love of feasting on my flesh. I have always been the person who has a reaction to bites when others seem to be immune.
Life as a bug magnet
I love the outdoors, but it comes at a price. I have been adorned with a variety of lumps and bumps from a variety of critters. Even long walks down a city street can garner multiple bites. The frequency of bites can vary based on the season. Getting bitten is always the expectation whenever I leave my home and venture into a new, unfamiliar area.
When I left the mainland, I had no idea just how worse things would get. I received so many bites. I could have told people “I am a cheetah who walks upright”, and they would have believed me. Bites were everywhere on my body. I was so covered in discolored spots and patches, I became self-conscious.
Seeking natural bug bite remedies
I could no longer use products that contain deet due to how my skin and senses reacted to it. Because of this new allergic reaction and the information I learned about the toxicity of deet, I began to experiment with salves and repellants. Thankfully I was able to workshop and create recipes that work for me.
After approximately 5-6 months, I was able to leave the house without wearing any form of bug protection on a daily basis. I’m not impervious to every critter. I still get bitten, even though my body has now developed a higher tolerance to some of the bites I receive. But there has been a vast improvement, especially when I remember to wear a balm.
Why Use DIY Bug Balm?
Critters run amuck on this island. I haven’t yet built up an immunity to all the creatures in my new environment. When my skin reacts to the bite I receive from unfamiliar creatures, I go back to using the DIY salve repellent that helped ease some of my pain.
In the instance of more severe bites (I went swimming then hiking without applying any skin protection), I apply the salve and use a cold compress.This usually allows for quicker relief.
There has been the rare occasion of getting bitten on my face and neck while camping. I have used this salve to spot treat those bites, but never apply to my entire face.
DIY Bug Bite Balm
The main purpose of this recipe is to create a skin defense system against unwelcome insects. But I’m a fan of moisturized skin. I’d rather have my salve do double duty of keeping insects at bay and keeping my skin supple. I have used this salve as both a preventative measure, and to soothe my skin after bites.
how this recipe works
This small batch recipe is intended for you to test if this recipe will work for you. Always do your own research of the ingredients in the recipes, and be mindful of possible allergic reactions.
This will enable you to easily tweak the recipe to meet your skin’s needs. Many of the salve’s ingredients have a laundry list of positive contributions. Because the below list of recipe ingredients are likely very familiar to you, I kept the “benefits” list short.
This 8-ingredient, 6-step recipe isn't foolproof and may not protect against all critters. But I have found it to be very helpful in my time of need.
Reminder: Do a patch test on a small section of your skin before using on a larger area.
Ingredients and how they work:
Refined Shea Butter
Moisturizes skin, soothes and calms
Mosquito repellent, moisturizes
Soothes and cleanses
Assists with soothing, nourishes skin, repels insects
Calms, cleans, and repels bugs
Tea Tree Oil
Soothes the appearance of redness, bug repellent
Repels bugs and cleanses
Soothes skin, repels bugs
Making the Balm
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Chill time: 10-15 minutes
Total Time: 25-30 minutes
Equipment you will need:
Metal spoon for scooping
Wooden spoon for stirring
Hand Blender or Hand Mixer
6 oz Mason jar (or equivalent)
1 TB Shea Butter
1 TB Coconut Oil
1 TB Beeswax
¼ t Calendula Oil
¼ t Lavender Oil
⅛ t Tea Tree Oil
¼ t Lemon Eucalyptus (if this oil is too intense, substitute with orange oil)
¼ t Peppermint Oil
Use a pot large enough to hold the glass bowl. Fill the pot ⅓ full with water and set it on the stove to boil. While the water is heating, combine the shea butter, coconut oil, and beeswax in the bowl.
All three should be in solid form when measuring, it’s okay if the measurement is not exactly level in the spoon.
If the shea butter is too hard to scoop with your measuring spoon, use the metal spoon to scoop the shea butter from the main block of butter, and into the measuring spoon.
Safely place the glass bowl into the pot and slowly stir the mix until it is liquified. Once liquified, remove from the stove.
While the mixture is still liquid, but not piping hot, add the remaining ingredients. Use your hand mixer or hand blender to mix all of the ingredients. You can blend at medium speed for up to 2 minutes.
Once blending is complete, pour the liquid into your mason jar. Allow the mixture to cool before using. When using the salve, I scoop it out with my fingers and apply to my skin. I don’t apply a thick layer of the salve, just enough to thinly coat my skin. This salve is no waterproof. Should you decide to engage in a water activity, you should re-apply the salve.
find what works best for you!
This recipe is meant to be a starting point and stepping stone for you to discover the best combination of ingredients your own skin. I have more than one salve based on the current season, and the condition of my skin at the time of use.