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DIY Sunscreen – Easy To Make (and why YOU need this recipe)!
I have been sitting on this sunscreen recipe post (and not sharing it with all of you) for a loooong time.
Whew! I feel better getting that out.
So, just exactly why have I been sitting on this post? Well, you know that I keep it real with all of you. So, here goes…
I tried my hand at multiple DIY sunscreen recipes last summer. A few were total flops, a few were okay, and a few were pretty good. …but, I wasn’t completely happy with any of them.
So, being ‘Scratch’ Mommy, off I went into my laboratory to create my own. Oh, the thrill I get out of creating new awesome DIYs in my laboratory (…okay, it’s my kitchen…) for my family and all of you.
So, why was I holding onto this recipe for so long?
Well, after the first attempt I was shocked. Honestly (with all modesty out the window), it was perfect in the first attempt (which rarely happens). So, I made another batch (just to be sure). Yup, it really was THAT GOOD.
As many of you know, I handcraft my own Scratch Mommy Organic Skincare line, so I didn’t even think about putting it onto the blog…it went straight into my shop so I could offer it to all of you.
Perhaps. …but, it is what it is.
It wasn’t until I published my easy and effective DIY deodorant recipe (with NO baking soda) that I realized just how many people LOVE the idea of DIYs, but simply don’t have either the…
…to make these DIYs. So, I created and published my DIY deodorant recipe and it was an immediate hit, here’s the kicker…not only was the recipe a hit, it was a smash hit as a seller in my shop. If you ask me, that is #winning. The DIYers get to make it and everyone else can simply purchase my healthy deodorant.
I recently did the same thing with my Smooth Finish Organic DIY Foundation (with sunscreen). The DIY recipe has been a hit AND it has been a hit in my shop.
So, it occurred to me that maybe I should publish this sunscreen recipe.
How Good Is This Sunscreen?
I’ve received loads of wonderful feedback from customers, including this one from Amy:
Best sun screen of all time! My son did not get sun burned one time this summer even after spending 8 weeks at day camp! My husband will even use it! Thank you Scratch Mommy for making these products for those of us who do not have the time and/or talent for making them ourselves, but still want to use products we trust without harsh chemicals and generally yucky ingredients!
Now, why should you make it (or buy it)?
First, the overwhelming majority of sunscreens on the market today are, well…….horrific. These are some of the most common ingredients found in sunscreens today…
- Oxybenzone– Detected in mother’s milk, widespread skin allergies, mimics estrogen in the body, linked to endometriosis, etc etc etc.
- Octinoxate (Octylmethoxycinnamate)– Again, found in mother’s milk, allergy concerns, and also acts as a hormone in the body.
- 4-MBC and 3-BC– I’m not even going to go here…you know that these numbers and letters together can’t possibly be good. Yes, I appreciate and love chemistry (and have a minor in chemistry…which doesn’t really mean much…lol), but I steer clear of things in my skincare products I cannot pronounce or do not know what they mean. I do more research. I’m just leaving this one alone, as I don’t need to know, really. It’s not a necessary ingredient, that I know.
Mmmm hmmmmm. Not so good, eh?
One thing I hear from many Scratch Mommy customers is that they are happy to have found a sunscreen that is actually safe…not cancer causing. I have a lot of frequent customers who are cancer survivors, and treating them and their bodies is of the utmost importance to me.
Americans must choose between “chemical” sunscreens, which have inferior stability, penetrate the skin and may disrupt the body’s hormone system, and “mineral” sunscreens, made with zinc and titanium, often “micronized” or containing nano-particles.1
**This recipe is not a “chemical” sunscreen, in the way that people typically think of chemicals as being ‘bad’.
**This recipe calls for a particular type of zinc oxide, and I advise you take heed–> Please, Please, PLEASE do NOT purchase inferior zinc oxide. You want to make sure that the zinc oxide you purchase is non-nano AND is NOT coated.2 3 You can read more about zinc oxide at the end of this post (and I hope that you do).
With THIS recipe, you do not have to choose between “chemical” sunscreen and “micronized” particles sunscreen.
Once again… #WINNING!!!!!
- 90g Coconut Oil– Organic, unrefined, virgin coconut oil like this (my fav!)
- 65g Carrier Oil– I use organic and unrefined apricot oil in this recipe, but you can use almond oil, jojoba oil, or any other liquid carrier oil you can find here. You can learn more about carrier oils in this post that I wrote and a great deal more from MRH here.
- 28.5g Beeswax– I love these beeswax pastilles (they are MUCH easier to work with than a block of wax)
- 27.5g Shea Butter – Organic, unrefined shea butter like this.
- 40g Zinc Oxide – I suggest this non-nano, uncoated zinc oxide, or you can buy zinc from me in smaller amounts.
- 1/2t Vitamin E – I really like this Vitamin E; make sure you know from where it is sourced (& non-GMO), especially if you have allergies.
- Double-boiler (I make my own with a glass bowl over a simmering pot of shallow H2O)
- Kitchen Scale (this is…BY FAR…my favorite kitchen scale (very affordable and Amazon Prime); read more about it in this post that I wrote)
- Mask (or hold your shirt over your mouth…you do not want to breathe in the zinc oxide, so make sure little ones aren’t around when you make this)
- Container(s) (I give you a few options below)
- Place your glass bowl on your scale, hit tare.
- Add all ingredients (one-by-one, hitting tare in between) EXCEPT the zinc oxide, which you add at the end.
- Place glass bowl over pot of shallow, slightly simmering H2O. Melt ingredients completely (stir with a whisk to help it along).
- Carefully remove from stove and wipe down condensation on bowl (you do not want H2O getting into your product).
- Place bowl on scale, hit tare.
- Add zinc oxide…slowly…until you get to 40g. Again, add this slooooowly…as the zinc settles the amount will increase on your scale.
- Whisk, whisk, whisk (and whisk some more!) and then carefully pour into container of your choice.
- This will take a few minutes to set up…just walk away and leave it alone to quietly set up.
The zinc oxide I use in my sunscreen (and suggest that you use) is uncoated, non-nano, and not micronized. This all means that there are not nano-sized particles entering your body, which many other sunscreens certainly cannot claim. The FDA does not regulate this yet, but I think that they should and I take it very seriously with my sunscreen products.3
Because I use zinc oxide that is not micronized (meaning that the particles aren’t crushed into super small parts that enter our bodies), this sunscreen is like a thick, incredibly soft butter. It melts when it hits your skin and it rubs it in beautifully, but it is not thin and runny like other (‘bad’ chemical-filled) sunscreens. I actually appreciate this very much.
What About SPF?
I do not have equipment to scientifically measure levels of SPF, however, through all of the research I have done, I can tell you that my sunscreen is at least SPF 20, possibly higher. This is a broad spectrum sunscreen and will provide protection from both UVA and UVB sun rays.
The recipe as written here contains approximately 20% zinc oxide. This gives you at least a 20 SPF. (Coconut oil has a natural SPF factor, too, so that’s helpful).
Speaking of…did you know that the higher the SPF number does not really mean better coverage? Really, it’s true! Do a quick (scholarly) Google search! I have learned that SPF protection does not increase proportionally to an increase in SPF. For example, an SPF of 2 absorbs 50% of UV rays, SPF 15 absorbs 93%, and an SPF of 34 absorbs 97% of UV rays. Interesting, huh?4
Here is a good guide if you wish to change up the level of protection (but remember, adding more or less zinc oxide will change the ‘feel’ of the sunscreen, making it thicker or thinner)…
- SPF 2-5: Use 5% zinc oxide
- SPF 6-11: Use 10% zinc oxide
- SPF 12-19: Use 15% zinc oxide
- SPF 20+: Use 20% zinc oxide (which is what I use in this recipe)
How Does This Sunscreen ‘Work’ & Feel AND HOW Do I Apply It?
Just like other sunscreens, you should reapply this at least every hour. I add beeswax to this recipe, which helps it stay on in the water, but like many other sunscreens, it will come off with water play (and excessive sweating). For me, reapplying often is a small price to pay to decrease my toxic load. We are bombarded with toxins everyday. Things I can do to eliminate them, I do as often as I can. This is one thing I can do and can do successfully.
Also, this sunscreen will ‘set up’ when in cold temperatures and will ‘melt down’ (some) when really hot. None of this affects the function of the sunscreen, at all. If it gets cold and solidifies, put it somewhere warm and vice versa.
***Mineral sunscreens are different than other typical, toxic sunscreens on the market today. This recipe does not contain toxic ingredients that soak into your skin and provide ‘water proofing’. Mineral sunscreens like this do not penetrate your skin. They sit on top of your skin and reflect the sun’s rays. This means that you HAVE to reapply (generously) often.
Just to drive the point home, “…applying half the amount of sunscreen you should use provides only the square root of the SPF, so a half application of SPF 30 only gives you an SPF 5.5.”1
Will this sunscreen make me look ‘white’?
No, it will not. At first, it will go on white, but once you rub it in and head into the sun it will melt onto your skin, feel nourishing (as it is!), and will not appear white. Please, apply a generous amount of sunscreen. You WILL look white at first. Then, keep rubbing and it will dissolve into your skin.
Will all of the zinc oxide dissolve when I’m making it?
Mostly, but not all. You will likely have a little bit of zinc oxide at the bottom of your bowl. I do not add this into my containers (as it is a bit grainy in texture and will appear more white when applied), but you certainly can, if you wish.
I have used pipettes to grab the leftover and put it into a lip balm stick for application on the face. I have also poured it into a separate container and use it on my toddler (who doesn’t care if he looks a little white) when I know that we will be out and about in the hot sun for a while.
I want mine to be thicker (or runnier)…what do I do?
Easy! Simply adjust the ratio of oils to shea butter. More shea butter will give you a thicker texture and more oil will give you a more runny texture. That said, I think that the ratios provided in this recipe are pretty spot-on (for what I like, anyway…but we all have different tastes and desires).
Adding 25g of zinc will still give you excellent coverage, but it will be thinner for an easier application. I wouldn’t add more than 40g of zinc…you will likely be pasty white and the sunscreen will be pretty thick.
Dang!!! That zinc oxide is cheap, but the shipping is expensive (and there’s a fee)! Help!??
I recommend New Directions Aromatics for zinc oxide, as they are the best I have found. No…I do not have an affiliate relationship with them…it’s just the best quality I have found and what I trust for my own family.
That said, they have a minimum order total of $100 to avoid a $20 transaction fee. If you aren’t purchasing $100 in total goods, you will be charged a $20 transaction fee (and their shipping is not cheap).
So…yes, I can help. Please head over to my blog skincare shop to place an order. I ONLY want to help those who need a small amount to make this recipe or my foundation recipe. For large amounts, please order from New Directions Aromatics!
What type of container should I use?
Well, that is entirely up to you. I like glass, BUT if you are taking this to the beach or pool that may not be the best option for you.
This recipe creates about 8oz of sunscreen. A quick Amazon search shows me the following that might work for you…
- Squeezable tube (I’ve used these great little squeeze tubes and LOVE them)
- Metal tins (these 8oz tins look pretty good and handy for a bag; here are some 4oz tins that look pretty good, too)
- You can see other options for containers at MRH (and their prices for really cute single glass jars and single tins are actually pretty good)
How long with this last?
Great question. The Vitamin E gives it pretty good stability, in terms of preservative action. That said, you don’t want to put dirty fingers into your container, which will invite bacteria.
Depending on the carrier oil you use, this will last anywhere from 6 months to over a year (or more). I store mine in a dark, cool closet. Also, you can place it in your fridge for even longer keep. Yes, it will ‘set up’, but will ‘thin out’ when you remove it. Mine lasts over a year. You’ll know it has gone bad by a funky smell.
I Love This Recipe!!! …will you please make it for me?
Yes, of course. I offer a similar item for sale in my shop…SkinShade! I would love to whip some up for you and ship it your way.
You can find the various sizes that I offer for sale HERE in my organic skincare shop.
Who is ready to D-I-Y!??? Well, hop to it, my friends!!!!
Until next time…
Jess, aka Scratch Mommy
******This is a homemade sun protection product. I am simply providing my recipe to you. I also offer SkinShade for sale in my organic skincare shop. That said, I have NOT had this tested in a lab, as that’s a pretty expensive endeavor (but am looking into it). Please, be sure to contact your doctor, naturopath, researcher, ND, etc if you have any questions and or concerns with anything mentioned in this post. I am not a doctor or PhD researcher (…I only have a MSEd in Higher Education…I’m now just a crazy researching gal who wants to help my family and others in a more natural manner).
Founder + Publisher + Chief Scientist + Handcrafter behind Scratch Mommy and Scratch Mommy Organic Skincare. Loves her loyal customers, whipping up a batch of body butter, playing in the sandbox with her son, and tickling feet with her husband, oh and a good organic wine or beer. Favorite Scratch Mommy Post: DIY Smooth Finish Foundation With Sunscreen.