How to Make Your Own Sunscreen Lotion
Update: If you want to see how easy this is, be sure to check Ann’s updated post, which includes a video!
This post was originally published in June of 2008, but this topic is always an important one as the days grow longer and the summer sun returns each year!
I have a small list of things I never thought I would make myself, and sunscreen happens to be on that list. It feels good to prove myself wrong, and realize that yet another product that felt so elusive and out-of-reach to me is actually dead easy to make.
Last week, a friend and I gathered in my kitchen with our oldest daughters to attempt to create some safe and chemical-free, SPF 30 sunscreen… without fancy equipment, without any previous know-how, without an FDA stamp of approval.
First things first… do we even need sunscreen?
Most of the time, I would say no. Our family rarely uses it because I don’t believe it is generally helpful or even wise to use frequently. Particularly for us, living in the gray West Coast, we need the Vitamin D desperately (and I recently learned that it takes us until September each year to get back up to optimal levels after the winter!).
Instead of frequent sunscreen use, we employ a lot of common sense tactics to stay safe in the sun.
Occasionally, though, I feel like it’s the right move to pull out a bottle, to avoid burning during long periods of sun exposure (like a day at the beach). If you’ve been around this blog for long, you’ve probably already guessed that I won’t use the conventional sunscreen products lining the store shelves. I want something safer for my family.
So what does “safer” sunscreen mean?
From my understanding based on what I’ve read, the safest sunscreens are those with the same types of natural ingredients that you would want in any other type of skincare product.
Nourishing oils like coconut, shea butter, jojoba, almond, etc. and potentially other ingredients like green tea extract or other antioxidants to protect the skin. Minerals (zinc oxide being the most common) provide the actual barrier between the sun and your skin.
This is just a very short list, but these are some of the ingredients we want to avoid:
- Oxybenzone (found in 65% of sunscreens)- a hormone disrupting chemical
- Retinol palmitate (a form of Vitamin A- fine in the body, but probably harmful on skin)
- Methoxycinnamate or Octinoxate
- Padimate O/PABA
- Nano or Micronized mineral particles
If you really want to learn more about what to avoid, and what to look for I would highly recommend the EWG Sunscreen 2012 Guide.
In particular, take a look at the sunscreens that rated the best, and then some articles on sunscreen safety and efficacy, such as What’s Wrong With the Sunscreen Protection Business, Health Agencies Question Sunscreen Efficacy, Sunscreens Exposed: 9 Surprising Truths, and Does Sunscreen Damage Skin?.
Additionally, Katie at Kitchen Stewardship has done some amazing research into sun protection over the last couple of summers. Of particular interest are her posts Do Mineral Based Sunblocks Work?, Sunscreen, Skin Cancer and Safety: How Much Do You Need?, and Natural Sunscreen Updates (on her VERY thorough and looong list of sunscreens that she has personally reviewed).
Which leads me to making my own sunscreen
This recipe intrigued me because it’s the same basic list of ingredients in MadeOn’s hard lotion bars, which are entirely pure and non-toxic (and which my skin loves). It’s been adapted to create more of a smooth lotion texture, with the addition of zinc oxide power (not in nano or micronzied particle form), for UVA protection. If you’re curious about the safety of zinc oxide, read more here.
It comes from the ebook, My Buttered Life: Summer Edition (which includes several other summer skin recipes, like bug repellant and after-sun skin conditioner). In the book, Renee addresses the issue of SPF and this is what she says:
According to an article on Badger Balmʼs website, zinc oxide should be 20% of the formula in order to get an SPF30. This recipe is right at 20% so this would be considered SPF30
Not bad. SPF 30 is as high as we really need. In my Skin Deep Database reading, I read that although many formulas claim even higher SPFs than that, they realistically may not be and provide a false sense of protection. If we think we need something higher, then maybe we shouldn’t be out in the sun for that long.
Here’s how we made our own sunscreen:
Our simple ingredients:
- 1/2 oz. beeswax granules/pastilles (I believe we found this to be 1/8 cup when we converted it)
- 1/4 cup shea butter (2 oz.)
- 1/4 cup coconut oil (2 oz.)
- 2 Tbsp. zinc oxide powder (1 oz.)
We added the two oils and then the beeswax to a glass bowl.
This is our makeshift double boiler, a glass bowl sitting on top of a pot with boiling water turned to a low simmer. It’s a blurry picture, but I thought it may still be helpful to see how we did it. We just had to be very careful with the hot glass bowl when we lifted it off, but other than that, this worked fine.
Once the oils were melted, we removed the bowl (set it on a folded towel on the counter) and dumped in the zinc oxide powder.
The book had recommended a stick blender, but mine is broken and I couldn’t find another one at the thrift store. So, I settled for using a regular hand mixer and it did the job just fine. The goal was to thoroughly blend in the zinc oxide until there were no clumps, and to whip the oils just a bit.
Once it was smooth, we poured it into glass mason jars.
The day we made it (after it cooled off) it had a thinner consistency. I took this picture on a cooler day, and you can see that it’s quite a thick lotion now. I was worried that it might not rub into our skin well, but I shouldn’t have worried.
This is how it looked as I first began rubbing it onto my daughter’s arm, but within a few seconds it softened and went on very nicely.
I wondered if it would leave a pale, ghostly white look, but it didn’t. You can see that the arm on the left is slightly lighter (this is the one with sunscreen). But, the difference isn’t very noticeable.
I want to tell you that we’ve been using it in the hot sun with great success, but where we live (the gray West Coast) we’ve had so few sunny days that I haven’t been able to properly test it out. I intend to as soon as we get some sun, and then I’ll update this post with how it works for us. What I do know is that in the past we’ve had success with natural-brand mineral sunblocks, so I expect that we will have a similar experience with this one. If anyone else has tried this, I would love to hear how it worked for you!
Update: We finally got a day to try it! We used it at the park on a very hot, sunny day. After over an hour of direct sunlight, plus another 45 minutes of on and off sunlight, no one was pink in the slightest, not even the baby with his super-fair skin (and we weren’t covered up, using hats, etc). Next I’ll try it on a water day and update again. 🙂
Update a year later: We’ve had opportunities to use this recipe while in the hot, glaring sun of southern Europe in the summer time. It provides us with excellent coverage, combined with our common sense techniques, and when we use it, we don’t burn. Even better, I recently bought one tube of a highly reviewed mineral sunscreen made by Badger, wouldn’t you know what the ingredients were? Simple oils like the ones we used, beeswax, zinc oxide, and just a bit of Vitamin E to preserve it. I guess we made “real” sunscreen after all!
Want to make your own sunscreen?
The recipe came from this book, My Buttered Life: Summer Edition. The oils and zinc oxide powder came from a DIY kit from MadeOn Skincare.
Just for KOTH readers from MadeOn! Right now you can get a free order of zinc oxide on orders over $25.00! Once your cart reaches $25.00, add the zinc oxide to your cart, use code KOHZINC and the zinc will be free! Expires June 30th, 2015.
She also shares some ideas for purchasing the products yourself in the ebook, if you wanted to buy them individually and not in the kit. Two websites that you could use for purchasing these ingredients are From Nature With Love.
You can also try viewing the videos that Renee has made, this one for making the regular sunscreen that we made, as well as this one for making a different version that goes in a pump.
Is there a good substitute for Shea Butter? My daughter has a tree nut allergy and can’t use it.
Try red raspberry oil.
THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU! For years I have read and have agreed that the chemicals in sunscreen are more harmful than a burn and that we should be smart in the sun rather than using sunscreen. Thanks so much for the recipe. Question: where do you purchase all your ingredients?
You’re very welcome! 🙂 I got all of my ingredients through HardLotion.com, which I linked to in the post.
WOW~very impressive! :o) Thank you for sharing! *question: Based on what you know about the zinc oxide powder, would it offer the same protection to simply whip it in to our already home made lotion?
Great post! I always just use the store bought kind but hate it! Where do you find the zinc oxide powder, beeswax granules and the shea butter? Also after you beat all the ingredients is it safe to reuse your beaters again? I only have a stand mixer. Thank you.
I got all of my supplies in a DIY kit from MadeOn (the links are all in the post). Another option is somewhere like Mountain Rose Herbs (http://mountainroseherbs.com/), as they sell all of those types of ingredients… ok, wait. Maybe not the zinc oxide. But http://fromnaturewithlove.com/ sells all of them.
And yes, I was able to use my beaters again. I just soaked them in really hot water with dish soap for a while, and then I just gave them an extra good scrub in a fresh sink of hot soapy water. That’s it! 🙂
I’ve used MadeOn’s recipe, too. We don’t use sunscreen every day, just for long periods out in the sun (all day on the lake, etc.) I used it on my whole family for about a 14 hour day in the hot sun. I usually burn horribly and it never settles to a tan. But, with this lotion, and how moisturizing it is, I barely got pink. I even forgot to reapply until about 8 hours in! The next day, instead of being pink, I had faded to a nice tan! My other family members didn’t get pink at all. I’m sold on this sunscreen! 🙂
Thanks so much for sharing, Angie! We finally got to try it in some hot sun today (and it worked great!), but we haven’t had as many opportunities to use it as you have, so I love hearing your experience!
This is great news! I just shared your post on Facebook and Pinned it as well.
In my 12 years of parenting, I’ve only used sunscreen a handful of times (mainly when we’re at the beach – here in Nova Scotia where it’s sunnier than BC). I use Alba for those occasions (scores pretty well on the EWG guide, but it still doesn’t thrill me. I’m excited to give this one a try!!
Any idea how long a batch will keep?
From what I can tell and what I’ve read, it should be good for at least several months, maybe up to 6 months?
Angie – I LOVE hearing about excellent results like that! So glad you posted 🙂
Sarah – if you buy our DIY kit, make sure you add on the zinc oxide and you’re set with all the ingredients (http://www.hardlotion.com/diy-hard-lotion-kit/). You can also buy everything from FromNatureWithLove.com or MountainRoseHerbs.com.
Elena – I haven’t tried it in a regular pump of lotion but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work, as long as the zinc oxide blends well into your lotion.
I don’t use sunscreen on a daily basis only when we may be out all day day in the sun. Saying that, I should have used some yesterday. It was a beautiful 4th here in the gray Northwest. Now I’m a little burnt. 🙁 Luckily my toddler doesn’t have much pink.
We use a product from Meleluca, a company with chemical free products. Its great and we love it!This looks really neat to. And so simple. Thanks!
Oh, I can’t wait to try this! I live in Tennessee and it is hot and really sunny for quite a few months out of the year. I need some good sunscreen and this looks great. I bet the kids will enjoy disappearing sunscreen:)
I’m curious your thoughts on what I could do for a six month old. Of course I’ll limit her exposure to sun as much as possible, but could I use this on her safely?
I just used it on my 4 mth old today. The ingredients are all absolutely safe. These are the same ingredients in the natural diaper cream that we’ve used as well, and far safer than what’s in most sunscreens out on the market.
I wish i had heard about this 2 weeks ago! My daughter is off to church camp this weekend and they said the kids HAD to have their own sunscreen, or they would put the Coppertone Sport on them. YUCK! I searched out a natural one and ended up with Jason sunblock (all the health food store had), but it still has stuff in it I am not happy about. We generally just use coconut oil and common sense! I will get these ingredients and make my own for future use! Thank you for posting this!!
Thanks for sharing your sunscreen recipe. I have found that coconut oil is all we need and use it liberally in our diet as well as on our skin. I put it to the test when we went to Mexico for 2 weeks in the winter and it did a fine job, stopping us from getting burned at all even though our white bodies spent a lot of time outdoors in the hot Mexican sun. However, my daughter has even more sensitive skin than mine and she and her children will surely try your recipe.
I am trying to pay for a download of the $5 book and the form won’t take the last 3 digits of my CC#. Is it me or is there a problem with the form?
Deb, you’ll have to email HardLotion directly to ask. I have no control over their forms. Sorry about that!
Sorry about that – I haven’t heard of that happening on our site… I assume all dashes were left out? Feel free to email me if you can’t get it to work (email@example.com)
Try typing your CC # in without any spaces.
I may have missed it somewhere in the article, but what are the proportions of the ingredients in this recipe? I”m always on the hunt for safe sunscreen alternatives, thanks for sharing.
Jami, I didn’t actually share the exact amounts, because they are the property of Renee, who wrote the ebook that I linked to. It’s her recipe, not mine, I’m just sharing how I did it. 🙂
Just noticed that she has actually shared the ingredients/amounts on her own blog- http://www.hardlotion.com/blog/2012/5/2/how-to-make-your-own-homemade-sunscreen.html
Thanks for sharing this recipe and your experience! I do have a couple of questions and hope you can answer them:
1. Is this safe to use on a toddler?
2. How does it perform in water (pool, ocean, sweat)?
3. What is the “shelf-life” of this home made sun screen?
Steve, I don’t know all of these answers, but 1) Yes, safe for a toddler or even a baby, 2) I haven’t had the opportunity to try it in a pool yet, and 3) It should last at least several months, but beyond that, I’m not sure. Keep the jar sealed, and out of direct sunlight as much as possible.
Just realized that last comment may sound funny, when we’re talking about something meant to be used in sunlight. I just mean, keep it out of the sunlight so that the oils aren’t continually softening then hardening then softening then hardening. This is just to help maintain a proper lotion consistency, not because the sunlight will damage it at all.
Stephanie nailed those answers but from our experience, the beeswax helps lock in the other ingredients so it does hold up well in water… but always keep track of skin exposure and re apply as needed.
I love that we can make homemade sunscreen! I’ve been trying this as well! I’ve also been reviewing some natural brands–Kabana seems to be my favorite so far. My family does use sunscreen–although probably not as much as we used to. All 4 of us (and I expect this baby I’m carrying as well!) have very fair skin and red hair. If we aren’t going to be out in the sun very long, I will not put it on the girls and myself–and I usually don’t use it unless I know we are going to the pool, park, etc. for an extended period of time.
Instead of applying it before we go somewhere, I often wait until we get there….partly to help get us all out the door 😉 and partly because I figure the 15 or so minutes it takes for the sunscreen to “start working” can be the time they soak up the vitamin D!
I got some blistering sunburns as a kid, and I want to try to avoid that for my girls. But I think as long as I’m vigilant about applying it when I know they will have prolonged sun exposure, it will be fine.
I love this! I have some of these oils already, how much of each do you put in, or did I miss that? Thanks
Have you tried the sunscreen on your face? Does it run when wet
And get into eyes? (a constant problem for my kids with suns teen).
Does it need to be reapplied after swimming?
We use it on our faces; we haven’t had a problem of it running when wet (it’s thicker than a sunscreen lotion in a pump). It contains beeswax which does seem to help keep the sunscreen applied, even after swimming, but I’d always caution to re-apply every couple hours to be on the safe side.
Renee Harris (MadeOn)
This looks neat, I will have to look into it later this summer (we are going away soon). For now, I’ve used both the Green Beaver sunscreen and Dr. Mercola’s sunscreen SPF 30. The 50 was too whitening. SPF 30 is a bit, but its the safest I’ve found for the price (its a decent price for natural sunscreen). And better ingredients than most. I think that some of us burn easier than others. I am fair and my husband has red hair and very whitish skin and we both burn in a few minutes on sunny days (which we’ve had almost no end of since March here). My husband can get a really bad burn in 15 minutes. I found the green beaver stuff didn’t work for my husband, and it smells like fast food french fries! Gross! I think its the oil in it. I will have to try this later.
I have been using this recipe so far this summer with great results – no sunburns! Good to know about the blender being a good substitute for a stick blender! Thanks!
That is awesome. We have been planning to make some this summer. Your post is encouraging me to go ahead and buy the supplies…with one tweak. Red Raspberry oil! is has extremely high SPF (naturally) and is oh so good for the skin. Wanted to put a feeler out there about it –would be great to add as well. The oil might even make it a bit less clumpy. Gonna give it a try……Thanks
” Red Raspberry Seed Oil. This powerhouse oil contains exceptionally high levels of alpha and gamma tocopherols (Vitamin E), Vitamin A, Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. This provides broad spectrum protection. Red Raspberry Seed Oil has anti-inflammatory properties that are greater than those of better known oils such as virgin avocado oil, Grapeseed Oil, Hazelnut Oil and Wheatgerm Oil”
I’m scouring the internet right now looking for the right zinc oxide and looked at your link from madeon and this is what her DIY kit says it contains: Kit includes: 4.25 oz refined shea butter, 4.5 oz beeswax, 5.25 oz 76 degree coconut oil, 4 lip balm tubes, one pocket sized Beesilk bar (so you know what you’re making), a medicine dropper, and instructions.
No zinc?? I looked on amazon but don’t trust what they say. Their information from “The essentials depot” does not list their zinc the way your refer to it on this post. Could you please help me find anther source?
I’d purchase from madeon again because I love her stuff, but I just received a whole order of all the other ingredients I need to make this, so it’s not in the budget to stock up again. Help?
You can have the zinc added in to your DIY kit, you just have to add a package or two of the zinc to your cart after you add the kit. But if you don’t want to place another order there, it’s also available at http://fromnaturewithlove.com/.
Yes, Courtney, you can purchase just the zinc from us without the kit, or you can purchase from the link Stephanie posted (From Nature With Love) if you want to purchase a larger amount.
Thanks Ladies for the responses!
I agree with the aversion to sunscreen, especially in the PNW. I rarely put it on my children unless we were in the direct sun for an extended period in the heat of the day.
However, we have recently moved to San Diego. I love it, but I have found that the natural sunscreens often don’t hold up to the salt water at the beach. After a couple of times with bad burns on my back after time surfing/boogie boarding I broke down and bought some middle of the road sunscreen. Not perfectly natural, but better than most. One specifically designed for surfing. It works great in the salt water. Finally.
If anyone has a great sunscreen that stands up to surfing I’d love to hear it!
Try Badger brand. Works great.
How much does this recipe make?
It makes 5 oz.
We are adopting a child with albinism and have become VERY interested in safe sunscreens. I haven’t yet looked at all of the links that you’ve included in this wonderful post, but my biggest question is how pricey is this kit? We have been told by our dermalogist that our (6 yr old) waiting daughter with albinism will need sunscreen EVERY day regardless of how sunny it is outside. She will be extremely suceptible to burns as she has NO pigment in her skin whatsoever. Obviously we will do our best to avoid direct sunlight during the peak hours of the day but we are going to need a great deal of sunscreen! Thanks for sharing this!
Stephanie I have the e book and love it. I used Titanium dioxide as my grand kiddo is highly sensitive to zinc. It worked lovely. I tested on myself and Hubby. I just received my order of yummy stuff. So sunscreen with zinc this time. Thanks for the post. O am just getting started so wish us luck.
Hi, it is as safe to use titanium dioxide? Why zinc oxide? is it the price? Thank you!
This post explains more about the use of zinc oxide- http://www.hardlotion.com/blog/2012/6/28/can-we-trust-zinc-oxide.html
I believe, since it contains zinc oxide, that this is a sunblock and not a sunscreen. Blocks are not harmful, as they let tanning and vit. D production occur, but protect from burns. If someone knows otherwise, please comment.
In the past, sunblocks referred to “physical blockers” like zinc and titanium, while sunscreens referred to chemical ingredients that actually reflect the harmful uv rays away from the skin, the physical blockers just absorb/block the rays from being absorbed into the actual skin. Tanning should not occur with either one if used correctly, as any tan is damage to the skin cells and the cells reacting to the radiation/damage by breaking down amd releasing melanin. DNA damage occurs with any tan, so it is best to apply and reapply often enough so that no tan occurs. With regard to Vit D, just take it as a daily supplement regardless of where you live and you will get enough to reap the benefit with out the risk of skin cancer and looking like a leather handbag. 🙂
Did anyone break a sweat during your test? That is my biggest concern..if it would hold up while gardening, or even in water.
I made this for my family a month or so ago, and we love it! It was very easy to make and apply. Plus, it is quite waterproof and by the end of the day, I don’t have that icky sunscreen feeling. We have used the regular hard lotion for several years, and I love that this feels like just one more application of it. I actually kept the beeswax content a little higher and poured it in an old deoderant container for easy application on my toddlers, just like I do with the hard lotion.
I thought zinc oxide was now proven to be bad for your skin?
I’d like to give that a whirl down here to see how well it works here in the hot south and me with my fair skin when we go out riding on our trike! So the titanium is more like a sun block as opposed to the zinc which is a type of sunscreen?? Great recipe tho!!
Thank you so much for this post!! My husband has melanoma really strong genetically on his side of the family so sun safety is high on our priority list, but so is natural living and avoiding chemicals (maybe cancer causing themselves??) Recently I’ve just mixed in coconut oil with my regular body lotion from Whole Foods and that has seriously protected me from burning better than the sunscreen!! (And I burn pretty easily!) Anyway, I will definitely be making this, I already have half the ingredients. 🙂
I have made this and it works really well. I live on the east coast, and have spent many long sunny days on the beach and no one has burned. I don’t reapply either. It seems to stay on after we shower too- I still see faint white tint on my skin
I fully support you trying to get people to use safer products, but am slightly offended that you encourage people – including your children – not to use sunscreen. As a person who burns after 45 minutes of midday sun, I can attest that sun damages your skin. You only need about 15 minutes a day of unprotected sun to get your daily dose of vitamin D. Women in their 20s are dying of skin cancer because they don’t protect themselves. Sure clothing and shade are WAY better protection than any kind of product, but I don’t believe that you are (or should be!) advocating a hermit lifestyle either. I really appreciate this “recipe” and am going to try it as soon as I can get the stuff together, but PLEASE, use this on your kids as much as possible!!!
I am so happy that you felt the same way. I was reading and that was the immediately what I thought about and what worried me. I’m very active in the fight against cancer, especially in my community and we encourage everyone to apply sunscreen all the time for that reason! Please please, apply sunscreen to your children! I understand the Vitamin D thing but there are solutions if you are deficient in that but there is not a yet a solution to skin cancer. Please use sunscreen people!
I recommend checking your city’s UV index on weather.com (below the Dew Point). I was born and raised in Chicago and only used sunscreen when I was going to be outside all day. I live in Melbourne Australia now with my husband, and from October until April, I have to wear sunscreen if I’m going to be outside for more than 3 minutes (I put it on when I hang up the laundry). the UV index varies a lot between cities and countries, no matter how “hot” it is. In Chicago (which gets miserably hot and humid), UV gets up to around 6 or 7. In Melbourne (which also gets very hot) it gets to 12. In Darwin (North Australia) it gets up to 16. To summarize, it depends on where you live as to how often you choose to wear sunscreen. No cities are the same in terms of UV intensity.
I just stumbled upon your blog and I’m so excited to make this homemade sunscreen! Thank you!
I can’t wait to try this! Thank you!
I made this last night and this morning it looks very yellow. I’m assuming it is from the beeswax ( I used half of a 1 oz bar). Do you think it will still work ok?
I’d like to make colored sunblock sticks. I’ve added face paint to my recipe, it just tints it. What do I need to add to make the bright colors? My kids want sunblock sticks that are like face paint.
Well, we do use sunscreen DAILY almost. Mainly on the face, ears and back of the neck since my daughter and son both have short hair. But you see, we live in Sunny Southern California and everyone in my family history (except me) has had some form of cancer. So given the excess amount of sun we are in almost daily and my family history we use sun screen whenever we go to a park, swapmeets etc. But, I never stated that I like to use it! So this is fantastic! I love the idea and I love the fact that it works. I will for sure give this a try! Thanks so much for giving us sun bunnys an alternative!!!!!!
maybe you mentioned it before but, where do you buy these ingredients?
Kathleen, I did mention (and leave a few links) in some of the other comments on this post, because many others had the same question as you. Just scroll through the comments and you’ll see my recommendations. 🙂
Hi… I don’t have neither a stick blender nor a hand mixer. Is it okay if I just mix it with the spatula by hand? I’m planning to make it for a school project.
I love this and i can’t wait to make it – you need sunblock for ATL summers! Just wondering – do you know if this is broad spectrum (covers UVA & UVB rays)? Maybe this is inherent in the zinc oxide but IDK!
from what i have been reading the zinc only covers one of the two (UVA/UVB) but to get coverage of both you can use half and half zinc and titanium dioxides. Still the same total qty (2Tbsp total) from what i have read. Hope this helps. I intend to make some varriety of it my self this summer but I also plan to add bug repellant essential oils so i have a mulit-purpose item!!!
Per this website and many others I’ve seen, zinc oxide is the broadest range sunscreen on the market. It also tells the differences between regular and nano versions.
(apologize for the continued post, my 17 mo daughter just slapped the keyboard) It does also say that it is insufficient IF high SPF is required. I usually don’t use sunscreen on a regular basis. I use it after exfoliation and if I will be in the direct sun for 30 min or more. I love the benefits of Vit D and rarely burn.
This looks GREAT! Can’t wait to try it. I was never a hard core sunscreen user until I was diagnosed with Lupus last year and with 2 little boys find it impossible to avoid the sun. The natural sunscreens are super pricey but I cringe putting all those chemicals on me and my boys. Looking forward to see how it works around water. Thanks so much for the info. Do you have any idea how long it lasts…the expiration of the sunscreen benefits?
We tried out your Sunscreen Lotion recipe today for a school project.
It turned out beautifully! Thank you so much for sharing.
I am glad to see someone else mentioned not using Shea butter.anyone allergic to nuts will have a reaction. Also, you do NOT have to burn to have had too much sun exposure. Just ask anyone who has had melanoma.nothing to fool around with. People are dying. Please use whatever you choose to protect yourself even on cloudy days. When it is cold and sunny. When you are in a car…..protect your children who can’t make that choice for themselves. Not just on a hot, sunny day when you plan to play on the beach or in the water, please.
You don’t need to cover your skin every time you step out of the house. UV damage may cause most melanoma but an unhealthy body is more susceptible to it. The sun has many skin benefits, including vitamin D.
love the recipe for sunscreen, do you have one for bug repellent that could be used on a horse?? I live in hot, humid, sunny WI but use to live in Sumner WA so know what you are saying, don’t think I ever wore sunscreen there. Thank you!
Is there a place here that I can print this recipe? THanks!
You can find a printable version of the entire post here: https://keeperofthehome.org/2012/07/how-to-make-your-own-sunscreen-lotion.html/print/
This includes the recipe along with all of the pictures. 🙂 Hope that helps!
Is this method cheaper than shop bought cream..
I was wondering if anything can be used in place of the shea butter……I am allergic to it and so are my 2 girls.
Do you think raw mango butter would be ok to use in place of the shea butter?
Hi! I am having trouble melting the beeswax… The Shea butter and coconut oil are clear liquids but the beeswax won’t melt…am I doing something wrong?
The beeswax has a higher melting point than the other oils so you just need to apply a tad more heat. As for the Shea butter, typically unless you are making soap it is best to melt your oils and beeswax together and then add your Shea butter after you remove your oils from the heat. Stir until melted. The reason is that Shea butter gets a grainy feel if melted at too high a temperature or if it is re-heated a second time. Good luck with your recipe! I am making sunscreen today as it is beautiful here in the great Northwest this weekend!
I know I’m coming to the party late but I just found your site. What’s the shelf life of this sunscreen??? I’m one of those very fair skinned ppl that burns BADLY if I just think about the sun too much. But I hate all the added chemicals in commercial sunscreen, not to mention they don’t work for me. (after using a SPF 50 sunscreen precisely to the directions I still ended up with second degree burns on my ears once, after that I just tried to avoid the sun pretty much all together.) Finding a natural alternative would be lovely…
I suffer with severe prickly heat which makes me feel miserable and I want to enjoy our holiday, do you think this would be ok to use? Many sun creams I have used just irritate it.
You might have mentioned it but I didn’t see it in your article – do you preserve the sunscreen? In the fridge? Room temp? How long will it preserve ? 12 month?
What an excellent write-up! We don’t wear much sunscreen either, and when we do, it’s Badger. One of these days I may have to try my hand at making my own…thanks for all the tips! (We love Renee’s hard lotion, but I didn’t realize she made sunscreen–and sunscreen kits–too!)
Is there anything you could use other than Zinc?
We’re allergic. 🙁
Diane – you can also use Titanium Dioxide.
Thanks for sharing this recipe with your readers! Can I substitute shea butter with cocoa butter?(since it is often used interchangeably)
I noticed you said that your family doesn’t really burn, even though you’re all fair skinned. I wondered if part of the reason might be low sugar intake? A friend told me several years ago that her daughter had never sunburned (even in the hot Georgia summers), and she attributed that to her child not eating sugar.
What could you use in place of coconut? My son and I are allergic. Thanks!
What can be used instead of beeswax? I’m Vegan 🙂
Sesame Seed Oil also has a natural spf of 4 from what I have read…… The Coconut Oil also has a natural spf of 4.
Thanks for this recipe. We are taking Girl Scouts on a camping trip here is sunny NC so I WILL make this.
I find that by eathing a diet rich is deeply colored veggies for at least 3 months prior to sun we don’t get burned. But our upcoming outing just might stretch it a bit and I want to enjoy our time, not hide out. I am a blonde haired freckled fair skinned person and so far, with all the gardening I have been doing, I have NOT gotten burned yet. I have actually tanned. Our green monster smoothies for breakfast since February is my claim for above. All greens (kale spinach and swiss chard) freshly picked from our garden. Wishing everybody a happy healthy burn free summer!
What about UVB protection? According to skincancer.org: “UVB is the middle-range of UV with wavelengths between 290-320 nm. It responsible for burning, tanning, acceleration of skin aging and plays a very key role in the development of skin cancer.”
I am SO happy to have found this post!! My son has always broken out in hives from any sunscreen other than the Warerbabies kind, and I know that one still has nasty chemicals. I’ve been trying to find a recipe for one I can make myself without all the nasty stuff added! Thank you!
I have tried olive oil for my skin and is the best. It is not greasy and prevents you from burning. Can not get more natural and cemical free than that!
As a licensed cosmetologist and esthetician you are uneducated about the sun. I understand you need vitamin D and its quite gloomy where you are from but you can still get cancer without being burned by the sun. You should always wear an SPF of at least 15 to protect your skin. Any exposure to UVA and UVB rays can be harmful. That still applies even if its snowing. To be fully protected, a broad spectrum sunscreen should be applied along with other protective clothing and hats.
Stephanie – thank you for this comprehensive overview encouraging the reader to make their own reliably safe sunscreen, I moved to FL, Feb ’13 . with sensitive skin I am most concerned with the quality of my sunscreen. Would you please provide information regarding the shelf-life and storage methods for your recipe. Again, thank you for your motivational article!!