There has been a lot of debate lately about whether the ingredients in sunscreen may be causing more harm than they are preventing. With so much information available about the topic, it’s hard to determine what facts are accurate and what is just hype. We are all well aware of the importance of protecting our skin from the sun’s rays year round to prevent burns, damaged skin cells that can lead to skin cancer, and premature aging. The importance of protecting our skin isn’t a question. The question that remains is what type of sunscreen protection we should be using. Commercial sunscreens have been shown to contain endocrine disrupting chemicals that may affect not only your hormones, but those of your children as well. With their high absorption rates, these chemicals show up in breast milk, are linked to increase in endometriosis cases in women, and can actually increase free radical damage. I go further into the specific chemicals and their effects on the body here.
I don’t know about you guys, but I prefer to know what is going on my skin and just how safe it is for me. This is why I make my own sunscreen. Now, there is also a lot of debate about how effective homemade sunscreens are at protecting our skin since they haven’t been as thoroughly tested as their commercial counterparts. However, the individual ingredients I use in my sunscreen have known amounts of SPF and are said to be effective at blocking both UVA and UVB rays, which is why I feel protected enough to wear them.
Homemade, Non-Toxic, and Water-Resistant Sunscreen! Estimated SPF ~ 30 – 40
1/4 cup (2 oz) Coconut oil
1/4 cup (2 oz) Shea Butter
1/8 cup (1 oz) Jojoba Oil
1/8 cup (1 oz) Olive Oil or Avocado Oil
2 Tbl (1 oz) Beeswax granules, non-bleached (this gives it the water-resistant property)
2 Tbl (1 oz) Zinc Oxide
1 tsp (0.17 oz) Carrot Seed Oil
1 tsp (0.17 oz) Raspberry Seed Oil (I left this out, but it has a high SPF so it would make a great addition)
1/2 tsp (0.08 oz) Peppermint Oil, optional (or any essential oil of your choice that’s not citrus oil)
Makes roughly 8 oz of sunscreen (give-or-take depending on how much of each ingredient you decide to use)
In a double boiler, melt coconut oil, shea butter, jojoba, olive or almond oil, and beeswax until thoroughly combined and all beeswax granules are melted. Remove from heat. Preferably use wooden utensils to stir rather than metal.
Allow to cool briefly then stir in zinc oxide. Make sure it’s well incorporated without any clumps. It should start to thicken up, like a creamy lotion.
***Make sure to be very careful when handling the zinc oxide. It can cause health problems if inhaled! Wear gloves and a mask if that makes you feel safer.
Add in Carrot Seed oil and any other oils you choose.
Pour into storage container and let sit to firm up. Should be firm but still soft enough where it slightly melts onto your fingers when you go to apply it.
Store in the refrigerator. This isn’t absolutely necessary, but it will prolong the life of it.
Apply before sun exposure and reapply every couple of hours, when it wears off, or after swimming or excessive sweating.
*** Avoid adding citrus oils to homemade sunscreens because they can exacerbate the damage from the sun’s rays, possibly causing a worse reaction than if you used no sunscreen at all.
So I know you’re wondering, what makes this sunscreen.. a sunscreen? Here is the known SPF of the ingredients:
Coconut oil – SPF 2-8
Shea butter – SPF 4-6
Jojoba oil – SPF 4
Avocado oil – SPF 4-15
Olive oil – SPF 2-8
Carrot Seed oil – SPF 38-40
Raspberry Seed oil – SPF 28-50
Zinc oxide – SPF 2-20
***The percentage of zinc oxide increases with the percentage used in the sunscreen. The higher the percent, the higher the SPF and the more white the sunscreen will look when on your skin. Since I used 1 oz in my 8 oz of sunscreen, I estimate that the zinc oxide provides an SPF of roughly 11-12.
Here’s a nice guide for how much zinc oxide to use for the SPF you would like. If you are making 8 oz of sunscreen:
Desired SPF: SPF 2-5 SPF 6-11 SPF 12-19 SPF >20
Zinc Oxide to use: 3% = 0.24 oz 8% = 0.64 oz 12% = 0.96 oz 20% = 1.6 oz
I based my estimate of SPF for the sunscreen from this list, erring on the side of caution. It’s not known if these SPF values simply add onto each other in overall sun protection value or overlap. So I act as if the final SPF is lower just to keep myself protected so I don’t feel like I have more protection than I may actually have. If that makes sense! Also, just because the beeswax makes it water resistant, doesn’t mean it is waterproof! You must always reapply sunscreen after swimming or sweating.
So that’s it! When it comes to skin products, it’s nice to have safe, or at least safer alternatives to choose from. The choice is all yours as to what type of sunscreen or sun protection you want to use, but I just like to offer you options! 🙂