But with 50% of the family having fair skin that’s prone to burn easily, it was important that our homemade sunscreen worked. This homemade essential oil sunscreen works.
REASONS TO MAKE HOMEMADE SUNSCREEN
For a long time, I bought whatever sunscreen was cheapest. Whether that was store brand or name brand, buying in bulk or using coupons – it didn’t matter. I bought it and we used it whenever we needed it, which really wasn’t that often.
We lived in an area that was typically cool and overcast. While you can get sunburned on a cloudy day, I was more concerned about our getting enough Vitamin D than getting burned. Family vacations aside, I can probably count on one hand the number of times we used sunscreen in the average year. Since we didn’t use sunscreen that often, I wasn’t too concerned about what was in it.
The weather where we live now is very different. It’s mostly sunny the majority of the time and we’re outside enjoying every minute we can. Our neighborhood pool has only been open a week and we’ve been there every single day.
As we gradually learn more and more about what we put on our skin, and balance it against how often we do it, making homemade sunscreen has become more of a priority for me.
You see, my daughter inherited my fair skin and together we cover ourselves head to toe with sunscreen. If we don’t, we burn after just 30 minutes in the sun. Summer days at the pool means applying and reapplying sunscreen on a regular basis.
The more often we use a product or eat a food, the better quality I want it to be, and we’re finally to the point where it’s time to upgrade our sunscreen. The top of my concerns are toxins, the cost of quality sunscreen and the fact that traditional sunscreens may even increase the risk of skin cancer.
With the amount of sunscreen we use in the summer, our sunscreen needs to be free of toxins and parabens is at the top of the list. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG),
Parabens act as a synthetic estrogenic compound and can alter hormone signaling… Proper endocrine signaling is particularly important during critical windows of development – while in the womb and during childhood and adolescence. Chemicals that disrupt hormone signaling can lead to adverse effect on development, reproduction and the neurological and immune systems.
A study conducted by the National Toxicology Program (NTP) found that a form of vitamin A, retinyl palmitate, may increase the development of cancerous skin tumors and lesions.
This ingredient is found in all sorts of make-up and skin care items because it has anti-oxidant properties that slow the aging of the skin. However, this same ingredient that can cause a “greater sensitivity to sunlight” is also attributed to “enhancing the photocarcinogenic activity,” of sunlight according to a panel of independent scientists convened by the NTP.
The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t require the term “fragrance” to be broken down any further. Many companies hide their trade secrets behind this term on ingredient labels, and it might very well include something that is fragrant. But it can also include preservatives for the fragrance and other chemicals we’d never even know.
Because I don’t know what “fragrance” includes, I avoid it whenever possible.
With four people in our family who all love to spend days at the pool, I anticipate going through a lot of sunscreen this summer. We spent 3 weeks in Costa Rica last year and as a family, we went through an entire 8 ounce bottle of sunscreen each week!
We won’t be in the sun all day every day, so estimating about 4 ounces each week seems fair. The best, most affordable non-toxic sunscreen on the store shelves comes in a 2 ounce container and costs almost $10. If we went this route, we’d be paying nearly $160 in sunscreen alone this summer!
Your actual cost to make your own homemade sunscreen will vary since the main ingredient will depend on your brand preference. Buying both zinc oxide and carrot seed oil is an up-front cost, but they’ll last at least through the summer, if not longer. The carrot seed oil will make 8 batches of homemade sunscreen and the zinc oxide will make 14!
When I figure the cost of making one batch of homemade sunscreen every week this summer, I’m saving over $125!
I’ve been dealing with acne-prone skin for as long as I can remember. It wasn’t until I switched to an all-natural soap that my skin finally cleared up.
Ever since, I avidly read every label of any product I put on my skin. I even make my own tinted moisturizer and powdered foundation and so that minimal ingredients are used on my face.
The rest of my body isn’t quite as prone to breaking out as my face, but I’m still hesitant about ingredients. And since I don’t want to have a separate bottle of sunscreen just for my face, I’d rather make a homemade sunscreen that worked for the entire body, for the whole family.
Most homemade sunscreen recipes include ingredients like coconut oil and shea butter or cocoa butter to make a lotion as a base. I’ve been trying various homemade lotion recipes using these ingredients for two years now and have been successful for homemade magnesium lotion. However, for just a plain lotion, my family hasn’t like any of the batches.
So it shouldn’t be a surprise that the homemade sunscreen recipes that also use these ingredients would create a texture that I wouldn’t like either:
- Some were way too thick.
- Some were sticky.
- Some smelled awful.
- Some wouldn’t rub in (at all).
- Some were too oily.
For one reason or another, every homemade sunscreen recipe I tried was a no-go.
However, one common thread I did find was that the homemade sunscreens with zinc oxide worked. And that’s what spawned me to create my own homemade sunscreen recipe with just 3 ingredients, using our favorite lotion as a base!
WHAT LOTION SHOULD YOU USE?
As I just mentioned, you want to avoid lotions that have parabens, synthetic Vitamin A and fragrance. Lotions that are scented naturally using essential oils and/or herbs are fine.
CONTROLLING THE SPF OF HOMEMADE SUNSCREEN
My homemade sunscreen recipe relies on two ingredients to provide SPF: zinc oxide and carrot seed oil.
You can increase the amount of SPF you want in your homemade sunscreen by adding more zinc oxide, or by using less, in relation to the amount of lotion you’re starting with. Here’s a general chart for zinc oxide recommendations:
- 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
If you wanted to make homemade sunscreen with an SPF of 20, you would calculate 20% of the amount of lotion you’re starting with. So if you have 4 ounces of lotion, you would use .8 ounces of zinc oxide.
This is where a kitchen scale is very handy when making homemade sunscreen, although you can make do with measuring spoons if that’s what you have. One ounce is about the same as 2 tablespoons, so .8 ounces would be 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons.
Carrot seed oil has a natural SPF ranging from 35-50. While this won’t add to the total SPF of the homemade sunscreen, I like to add some because of it’s own SPF properties. We have fair skin, remember? Better safe than sorry.
And if you don’t have carrot seed oil, raspberry seed oil has a similar SPF profile of 30-50.
TIPS FOR SUCCESSFUL HOMEMADE ESSENTIAL OIL SUNSCREEN
Depending on the type of lotion you use and oils you have on hand, you might have to add other ingredients to make it a bit more user-friendly as a sunscreen.
For example, my husband’s favorite lotion absorbs really quickly. This is fine as a lotion, but when I use it to make homemade sunscreen, it absorbs before I’ve had a chance to rub the sunscreen over the area. Adding 1-2 tablespoons of a nourishing oil helps to thin the homemade sunscreen just a bit so I have extra time to rub it in.
Zinc oxide is famous for leaving a layer of white on the skin. Depending on how much zinc oxide you use, the layer might be thin and barely noticeable, or it might be thick and quite noticeable. You can tint homemade sunscreen though, to better match your skin. To do this, add cocoa powder 1/2 tsp at a time until you reach the desired color.
You can see the white sunscreen two pictures above, and the tinted sunscreen in the previous picture. I used 1 tsp of cocoa powder in that batch and found it to be good for my fair skin.
Finally, raspberry seed oil also has SPF properties if you’re unable to find carrot seed oil. Use the same amount as you would for carrot seed oil.
HOW TO MAKE HOMEMADE SUNSCREEN WITH JUST 3 INGREDIENTS
HOMEMADE SUNSCREEN SUPPLIES1 - 4 oz of your favorite non-toxic lotion (I prefer the lotion from Bend Soap Company while my husband likes Aveeno)2 - .8 oz zinc oxide for about 20 SPF (about 1 Tbsp + 2 tsp)3 - 12 drops carrot seed oil (scant ¼ tsp)