The Problem of Sunscreen
Many sunscreens contain toxic ingredients or endocrine disrupting chemicals that in many cases can actually promote skin cancer growth and free radical production in the body.
In fact, in the years since sunscreen use began, skin cancer rates have actually risen, and a 2007 document from the FDA stated that: “The FDA is not aware of data demonstrating that sunscreen use alone helps prevent skin cancer” In fact, many reports show that most sunscreens actually raise skin cancer risk.
The Vitamin D Factor
Considering many people these days are actually Vitamin D deficient, I personally consider lack of sun exposure to be a much bigger problem than too much sun exposure.
Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to many types of cancers including the most deadly types of breast cancer. Lack of Vitamin D has also been linked to problems during pregnancy including pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, premature labor, and more.
As a society, we’ve literally cut off our nose to spite our face when it comes to sun exposure. To avoid skin cancer, we’ve shunned the sun and the Vitamin D our bodies produce when exposed to the sun.
On top of that, sun exposure itself is not the only factor linked to skin cancer, and many other factors, such as Omega-6 Vegetable Oil consumption can have a big impact on skin health!
I don’t buy the idea that even moderate sun exposure is harmful when our bodies need Vitamin D and light exposure for so many aspects of health. I personally take Astaxanthin daily to help protect my skin from the inside out (read about why I do this here).
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.
I certainly agree that homemade sunscreens don’t have the lab testing that conventional ones do, but you know what else they don’t have? Endocrine disruptors and coral killing compounds. Also, sunscreen should be a last resort, according to the EWG, and shade and getting out of the sun are better options anyway.
So we shouldn’t use homemade sunscreens in the same way we use conventional. I’d also argue that we shouldn’t use conventional sunscreens in the way we normally do either.
Bottom Line: Use common sense and get safe sun exposure. The amount and safety varies by person and I definitely recommend doing your own research and talking to a knowledgeable naturopath to figure out what works best for you.
Choosing Natural Sunscreen Ingredients
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. For this reason, I can’t (and don’t) make any claims or even guesses as to the combined 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.
Homemade Sunscreen Ingredients
- ½ cup almond or olive oil (can infuse with herbs first if desired)
- ¼ cup 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)
Homemade Sunscreen Instructions
- Combine ingredients except 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
This information was found at: