Natural Homemade Sunscreen Recipe
Natural Ways to Protect your Skin
While we normally suggest allowing your skin to get a good amount of sunshine to provide your body with ample Vitamin D, we do not condone soaking up the sun until you are burnt to a crisp. In years past, people knew how to avoid getting too much sun by following some simple sunny day guidelines:
- avoid being outside during the middle of the day when the sun’s rays are the hottest
- seek shade under a tree, umbrella, etc., if being outside during peak sun is necessary
- wear a large-brimmed hat
- wear light, loose clothing to cover exposed skin
However, we understand there are times you will not be able to cover up or get out of the sun and may need to use sunscreen. But commercial sunscreens have been a hot topic lately, guilty of containing harsh chemicals and being counterproductive in maintaining healthy skin.
So let’s learn how to safely protect your skin when covering up or getting out of the sun is out of the question.
Ingredients for Natural Sun Protection
There are several oils, butters, essential oils, and other natural ingredients that provide natural sun protection. While most of these offer very low amounts of sun protection, when added to your homemade sunscreen they nourish the skin and offer some protection against the effects of excessive sun.
- Coconut oil – contains natural SPF properties
- Shea butter – naturally protects skin, making it perfect for use in a sunscreen
- Jojoba oil, sunflower oil, or sesame oil – these oils are easily absorbed into the skin and also provide some natural sun protection
- Eucalyptus and lavender essential oils – eucalyptus has very low natural SPF and lavender is great for soothing and repairing skin. DO NOT use citrus essential oils in your sunscreen, as they may increase sensitivity to sunlight.
- Vitamin E oil – nourishes and moisturizes skin, and helps naturally preserve homemade sunscreen
- Zinc oxide (non nano) – a non-toxic, usually non-irritating, effective broad spectrum sunblock. The particles sit on the outermost layer of your skin, scattering and absorbing UVA and UVB rays, protecting the skin below. Be sure to use non nano zinc oxide to produce a natural homemade sunscreen. We purchased ours here. (The smallest amount you can purchase is a container that will last you years!)
Important: Nano or micronized zinc oxide has been treated to reduce the size of its particles, creating an ultrafine powder. When added to sunscreens it does not leave a white film on the skin, thus making it a popular choice in many commercial sunscreens. The problem with this is that the particles are so small they can enter the body through the skin, causing potential health problems. When purchasing, be sure to purchase a non nano zinc oxide that has particle sizes as large as possible. (Anything with a particle size smaller than 100nm is considered a nano particle – the zinc oxide we found is 330nm.)
Choose your SPF
Different amounts of zinc oxide are needed depending on what SPF you would like your lotion to be. Once you have chosen the SPF a little math is involved. The zinc oxide must be a certain percentage of the weight of your ingredients (before adding the zinc oxide). For this reason, it’s easiest to use a kitchen scale when making your sunscreen. For example, if you have 2 ounces of lotion and you’d like to make SPF 10 sunscreen, according to the values below you will need to add .2 ounces of zinc oxide to the lotion. Use the zinc oxide recommendations below.
- For SPF 2-5: Use 5% zinc oxide
- For SPF 6-11: Use 10% zinc oxide
- For SPF 12-19: Use 15% zinc oxide
- For SPF >20: Use 20% zinc oxide
Homemade Natural Sunscreen
- 1 oz. coconut oil
- 0.8 oz. shea butter
- 0.1 oz. jojoba, sesame, or sunflower oil
- 0.1 oz. Vitamin E oil
- 30 drops essential oils, optional – I use 15 lavender, 10 eucalyptus, 5 peppermint
- zinc oxide powder (determine amount for 2 oz. of lotion)
Add coconut oil, shea butter, and jojoba/sesame/sunflower oil to a makeshift double boiler. (To make your own double boiler, place a Pyrex measuring cup containing ingredients inside a small pot filled with a few inches of water). Heat gently until shea butter is just melted. Remove from double boiler and allow to cool a little. Put on a mask that covers your nose and mouth (to avoid breathing in the fine particles of zinc oxide powder), and measure out your zinc oxide. Add zinc oxide, Vitamin E oil, and optional essential oils to the other ingredients. Stir well to combine. Store in a dark jar in the refrigerator.
Apply liberally to exposed skin. Reapply every few hours, or more often if swimming or sweating.
This homemade sunscreen has about a 6 month shelf life, and should be refrigerated when not being used. The oils it contains are photosensitive, so do not leave your homemade sunscreen sitting out in direct sunlight. Keeping it in a cooler will prevent it from melting in high temperatures when taking it to the pool or beach.
If you prefer to add zinc oxide to another homemade lotion you like, simply weigh a desired amount of lotion and add enough zinc oxide to achieve the preferred SPF, mixing thoroughly.