In the event that I’m going to be out in the sun for much longer than my skin is used to, it is often easy enough to just put on a hat or shirt to shield my skin. It is more effective at stopping excess sun exposure, costs less, and doesn’t harm the ocean. A Commonsense win-win scenario.
Many sunscreens contain Oxybenzone, a known hormone disruptor that is not recommended for use on children. Vitamin D= is necessary for correct hormone formation. Sunscreen ingredients like Oxybenzone= endocrine disruptors that inhibit correct hormone formation. Starting to see the reason some sunscreens may do more harm than good? Researchers estimate that over 5,000 metric tons of sunscreen wash off of swimmers each year. This “swimmer pollution” threatens a large part of the coral life in the ocean and indirectly many other ocean species as well.
Oxybenzone, one of the most common ultraviolet-blocking chemicals in sunscreen, for example, can be detected in urine within 30 minutes of application. When you flush the toilet or wash off sunscreen in the shower, chemicals from the lotion enter the sewer. For towns near coral reefs and without sophisticated sewage treatment and management systems, this pollution is rather inevitable.
When I’m going to be in the intense sun teaching swimming. I use a natural sunscreen on my face, wear a hat and wetsuit top. I want to share a recipe (and best picks for pre-made) so that if you are in the sun for extended periods of time this summer, you have a natural option.
This homemade sunscreen would also be a more natural alternative for really young children, those taking medication that increases sunburn risk, or those who burn very easily.
I don’t recommend using sunscreen daily since Vitamin D you get from the sun will be more beneficial in the long run!
Is Homemade Sunscreen Dangerous?
Several recent articles claim that homemade sunscreens are harmful and that a person should never consider making their own sunscreen. Their reasoning is that you can’t verify the SPF with homemade sunscreens so the chance of burning is higher.
Homemade sunscreens I agree, don’t have the lab testing but they don’t have Endocrine disruptors and coral-killing compounds either. Staying under shade and getting out of the sun are better options anyway. Use common sense and get safe sun exposure. The amount and safety vary by person and I definitely recommend doing your own research and talking to a knowledgeable naturopath to figure out what works best for you.
Many of the ingredients in this recipe have a natural SPF (sun protection factor). This is a natural recipe and has not been tested by a regulatory organization for exact SPF.
The individual ingredients are considered low SPF and generally quoted at these levels:
- Almond Oil- SPF around 5
- Coconut Oil– SPF 4-6
- Zinc Oxide SPF 2-20 depending on how much is used
- Red Raspberry Seed Oil SPF 25-50
- Carrot Seed Oil – SPF 35-40
- Shea Butter – SPF 4-6
The final version will have a varied sun protective ability depending on the amount of each ingredient used. For a simple version, even just coconut oil and shea butter with a little Raspberry Seed and Carrot Seed Oil or some Zinc oxide will work for moderate exposure.
As always check with your doctor or dermatologist before using any new products.
NOTE: This is an improved recipe since many people were having trouble getting the temperatures exactly right to get the lotion to emulsify (as per the comments below). This recipe will not have any of those issues!
- ½ cup almond or olive oil (can infuse with herbs first if desired)
- ¼ cup of coconut oil (natural SPF 4)
- ¼ cup beeswax
- 2 Tablespoons Zinc Oxide (This is a non-nano version that won’t be absorbed into the skin. Be careful not to inhale the powder).
- Up to 1 teaspoon Red Raspberry Seed Oil– optional
- Up to 1 teaspoon Carrot Seed Oil– optional
- 2 tablespoons Shea Butter (natural SPF 4-5)- optional
- Optional: Essential Oils, Vanilla Extract or other natural extracts to suit your preference (Do not use citrus essential oils as they increase sun sensitivity)
- Combine ingredients except for zinc oxide in a pint-sized or larger glass jar. I have a mason jar that I keep just for making lotions and lotion bars, or you can even reuse a glass jar from pickles, olives, or other foods.
- Fill a medium saucepan with a couple inches of water and place over medium heat.
- Put a lid on the jar loosely and place in the pan with the water.
- As the water heats, the ingredients in the jar will start to melt. Shake or stir occasionally to incorporate. When all ingredients are completely melted, add the zinc oxide, stir in well and pour into whatever jar or tin you will use for storage.
- Small mason jars (pint size) are great for this. It will not pump well in a lotion pump!
- Stir a few times as it cools to make sure zinc oxide is incorporated.
- Store at room temperature
- This sunscreen is not waterproof and will need to be reapplied after sweating or swimming.
- Make sure not to inhale the Zinc Oxide– use a mask if necessary!
- Add more beeswax to make thicker sunscreen, less to make smooth sunscreen
- I recommend coconut or vanilla extract or lavender essential oils for fragrance
- Store in a cool, dry place or in the fridge
- I prefer to store in a small canning jar and apply like a body butter. It will be thicker, especially if you use coconut oil in the recipe.
- Remove the Zinc Oxide and this makes an excellent lotion recipe!
An Even Faster Way To Make Sunscreen
- Get a bottle of your favorite lotion (that doesn’t contain citrus oils!)
- Add a couple Tablespoons of non-nano Zinc Oxide
- Mix well
You can also make Sunscreen Bars by using many of the same ingredients and which are easier to apply!
Pre-Made Natural Sunscreens
I’ve also gotten some questions about pre-made sunscreen options for those who don’t have the time or desire to make a homemade version of their own. The best brand I’ve found is Badger and they have several great organic, non-nano versions:
- Sport sunscreen: Badger Organic SPF 35
- For Baby: Badger Organic Baby Sunscreen SPF 30
- Kids Sunscreen: Badger Organic Kids Sunscreen Tangerine and Vanilla SPF 30
- Best smell (in my opinion): Badger Lavender Sunscreen SPF 30.