BUZZ KILL

After years of leaving late-summer barbeques covered in mosquito bites, you’ve finally learned to slather yourself in bug spray.

But if you’re worried about the side effects of traditional repellents–long-term exposure to DEET can prove toxic, plus nobody likes smelling like a Girl Scout–we’ve found a few all-natural (and effective) ways to keep the buzzers at bay.

Before heading outdoors, apply Farmaesthetics’ Tansynella Bug Screen ($18) to exposed skin. The subtle, sweet-smelling oil–made in Rhode Island–contains proven bug deterrents like eucalyptus and rosemary oil, and works just as well as the sticky, drugstore versions you’re used to. We also like Real Purity’s herbal insect repellent ($14) for its no-hassle spray bottle and lemon-lavender notes.

Once you’ve ventured into the treacherous wild (or your patio), keep mosquitoes away with a lovely tableau of Yankee Candle’s Conceal tea votives ($10) which repel bugs sans chemicals or citronella. Or, for a sneaky DIY option, spritz the air around you with Listerine–its primary ingredient, eucalyptol, is kryptonite to bugs.

But should you end up with a few nasty bites, relieve the itch (and the swelling) with Burt’s Bees all-natural calamine alternative ($3). And whatever you do: don’t scratch.

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ADVANCED SCREENING

It may be August, but there are still plenty of beautiful beach days to be had. Rather than avert the sun’s harmful rays with dated sarongs and wide-brimmed hats, we’ll be covering up with these top-notch sunblocks:

The Active Block Ball by Own ($15) covers areas we often forget to slather (nape of the neck, small of the back) via a nifty roller ball. A zinc formula protects skin from UV rays while antioxidants like raspberry oil prevent damage and aging. The light-as-air texture won’t result in greasy skin, so you can go from sand to soiree without a hitch.

Neutrogena’s Wet Skin Sunblock Spray ($12) is ideal for post-swim applications (no toweling-off required). The first sunblock designed with fresh-from-the-pool skin in mind, this sheer, subtly scented sunscreen cuts through water and immediately blends in–leaving no streaky, white mess behind.

For the ultimate in sunscreen convenience, try Shady Wipes ($14). Safe for sensitive skin, these no-fuss cloths–individually pre-loaded with SPF 30–contain vitamin E, rejuvenating mango extract and soothing aloe. Keep a stash in your handbag for spontaneous lunches in the park.

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SPANX GIVING

While we openly begrudge anyone working too hard to look good at the gym, we do try to at least appear presentable. That’s why it’s such a bummer when workout clothes cling or pinch or ride up in unflattering ways.

Luckily, the smarties at Spanx have us covered–literally–with their new activewear line designed to flatten, lengthen and de-lump.

Using the Spanx technology you know and love, the four new bottoms and two new tops are made with control panels that suck you in and keep your softest areas looking firm. The yoga-readyPower Pants ($118) were inspired by Spanx founder Sara Blakely’s quest for post-pregnancy workout gear, and the high, stretchy waist really does prevent bulges without feeling like a girdle. TheShaping Knee Pants ($78), on the other hand, are a little tighter and a lot more compression-oriented (i.e., your butt will look amazing). They’re also great for nonbulky layering as the weather gets cooler.

As for the shirts, we like the sports-bra friendly Cinch-It Racerback($68), which is super-flattering for all bust sizes.

Now we have no excuse not to hit the gym.

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BUST A MOVE

Anyone who’s ever sweated to the oldies knows that good exercise music can make or break a workout. Enter the Internet-radio geniuses at Pandora, which has just released 12 stationsspecifically designed for your fitness regimen.

Each station is tailored to a slightly different workout need. “Electronic Cardio” is ideal for vigorous runs, “Rap Strength Training” accompanies your arm curls and “Yoga Workout” is perfect for…well, you get it.

We went jogging to “’80s Cardio” and got a great mix of up-tempo Billy Idol, the Go-Go’s, Stevie Nicks and the like. Then we cooled down to “Alternative Endurance” (Red Hot Chili Peppers, Gorillaz) and “Country Fitness” (Lady Antebellum, Keith Urban) and skipped the scary-sounding “Hard Rock Strength Training” (Linkin Park, Pantera).

Though the new channels stream an endless supply of preselected (rather than customized) music, you can make them your own by “thumbs-upping” or “-downing” songs, which then determines what you’ll hear in the future.

Plus, you can take your workout to go with Pandora’s free mobile app (available for most platforms), which lets you stream directly from your smartphone.

Sure beats playing “Eye of the Tiger” on repeat.

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SHARE THE WEALTH

Anyone who’s been mystified by the sea of spelt and kombu at the health-foods store knows the challenge of finding wholesome snacks that don’t look–or taste–like cardboard.

That’s why we love Lollihop, a new delivery service that takes the guesswork out of eating healthy by bringing all-natural, tasty snacks to your doorstep each month.

A $19 monthly subscription gets you one box of eight to ten snacks selected by nutritionists to ensure there are no processed ingredients or added sugars, plus recipe cards and tips for incorporating them into your routine (great for the person who wants to sample a vegan health bar but doesn’t need a whole case).

A recent delivery included sprouted pumpkin seeds from Kaia Foods, Kind Cranberry Almond + Antioxidant Bars and one of our favorite good-for-you treats, the enzyme-rich granola from Two Moms in the Raw.

Snacks rotate seasonally–from immunity-boosting dried berries and kale chips in the winter to energizing sunflower seeds andalmond-butter bars in the spring–and you’ll always receive something decadent, like dark-chocolate-covered coconut shavings. Lollihop will also soon unveil boxes tailored to gluten- and nut-free diets.

Now that’s eating smart.

If you had $250,000 to give away, what would you do with it? Seriously, start thinking: Thanks to Chase Community Giving, you’ve got the opportunity to help allocate the distribution of more than $3 million in grants to some of the country’s most worthy small and local charities.

Here’s how it works: First, “Like” Chase Community Giving on Facebook and search for your favorite charities by name, category, zip code or keyword. Next, come back between November 8 and November 22 to cast your 10 votes for the organizations you think most deserve to receive grants. The eligible charity with the most votes will receive a $250,000 grant, the four next top vote-getters each receive a $100,000 grant and the next ninety-five charities with the most votes will each receive $25,000.

All grant recipients will be announced on Facebook on or about November 23. Thanks to you, local charities across the nation will receive funding to help their cause.

Since 2009, Chase Community Giving has donated more than $15 million to more than 400 charities nationwide–all with the help of engaged citizens like you.

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CAST AWAY

Hey, you, engaged citizen: Did you vote today? Yes? Good. But there’s actually one more step you can take this Election Day to do your civic duty: You can visit Chase Community Giving on Facebook and vote for the small and local charities you think are most deserving of sharing more than $3 million in donations.

To get started, simply “like” Chase Community Giving on Facebook. Next you can vote for up to ten charities that you think would benefit the most from a sizable donation. (Past winners include a New York City-based organization that works to protect the rights of children and teens, a youth arts initiative and aVirginia wildlife center.) One eligible winner will receive $250,000 in funds, and 99 others will share in the rest of the winnings (4 will get $100,000 and 95 will get $25,000), meaning that every vote really counts.

The voting begins today and is open through November 22, so you can vote now or vote later. Just make sure you don’t miss your chance to make a difference.

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LOCK IT DOWN

A fake rock or garden gnome may be an efficient (if risky) way to hide a spare set of keys, but what if you could let in houseguests from afar simply by pressing a button on your phone? Now you can, thanks to Lockitron, a combination home-security system and smartphone app.

Here’s how it works: You replace part of your door with Lockitron’s internet-enabled lock (starting at $295), which works with most types of locks including dead bolts, handles, knobs and even apartment buzzers. Then you download the correspondingiPhone app (an Android version is coming soon) and voilà: You can begin locking and unlocking your home from anywhere your phone gets service.

Aside from the joy of having one less thing to carry around (though the installment kit does come with a few “real” keys), we love the idea of letting in our kids/repairmen/etc. when we’re not at home. Even cooler–you can grant houseguests access by sending them a text message that enables their phone to temporarily work as yours does.

Though the Lockitron team is working on password-protection functionality, in the meantime users will obviously want to keep their phones locked in case they–God forbid–get stolen.

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