We’ve taught you how to make DIY remedies like herbal salve and herbal extracts and tinctures, so why not make a DIY suscreen? The ultimate homemade sunscreen list below will help you get started and choose the best ingredients to fit your sun exposure, skin, and budget needs.
What is a natural sunscreen?
Natural sunscreens are free from harmful chemical ingredients such as avobenzone, ecamsule, homosalate, octocrylene, titanium dioxide, and oxybenzone, octinoxate.
These ingredients have been found to harm aquatic life, as well as cause harm to humans.
⇒ They cause endocrine disruption, are toxic to organ systems, and are allergenic.
⇒ These harmful chemicals also cause photosensitivity, hormone disruption, and harm to reproductive organs.
⇒ They increase the absorption of pesticides, and yes, may cause cancer.
Are there alternative ingredients for a safe or DIY sunscreen?
Zinc oxide is the most commonly-used ingredient in natural sunscreens. While it is generally recognized as safe, there have not been enough studies to demonstrate whether it is absorbed by the body and could cause harm in large amounts. For this reason, look for non-nano zinc oxide when adding it to your homemade sunscreen.
A number of other natural substances naturally block UVA and UVB rays as well. Continue reading for our best suggestions for your DIY sunscreen.
Does sunscreen prevent skin cancer?
There is not a lot of evidence that sunscreen actually prevents skin cancer. There are studies on both sides of the spectrum, but the industry cites the typical excuse of “it would be wrong to do studies on persons without sunscreen,” as to why there is not more research.
In addition, you will see after every study or article exposing the dangers of chemical sunscreen, is information about how we should “still use sunscreen,” which begs the question: how do we avoid toxins while preventing skin cancer?
So what causes skin cancer?
There is a lot of debate as to what actually causes skin cancer. It is more likely that skin cancer is caused by toxins within our own body, and the best way to prevent it is to eliminate toxin exposure via diet and our environment.
We know that we need vitamin D from the sun to prevent cancer and for overall health, so never seeing the sun and covering ourselves with sunscreen may not be the answer.
We need to be out in the sun, but also need to not scorch ourselves.
Can you make your own sunscreen?
Does homemade sunscreen really work? Yes, it can really work. It may not be as protective as its chemically-laden counterparts, though.
How can I test my sunscreen at home? You may try to test your sunscreen on a part of your body that already has a base tan and does not burn easily.
In addition, you can also tape off your skin (masking or washi may be easiest to pull off) and label the area that has the sunscreen versus the area which does not. Expose to the sun for 1-2 hours, peel off, and check.
The ultimate homemade sunscreen list
The good news is that homemade sunscreen is easy, inexpensive, and effective. There are many ingredients that block the sun.
How is SPF rated? The Sun Protection Factor (SPF) tells you how long you can be in the sun without burning from UVB light. The rating number, let’s say 10, is multiplied by the number of minutes you may burn in the sun. A light skinned individual may start getting red at 20 minutes, so the SPF 10 product will protect them for 200 minutes (20 x 10).
UVB light is believed to be the spectrum that causes cancer, while UVA may cause wrinkles and is deeper penetrating. Most natural products block UVB, and not UVA rays.
The below natural ingredients have differing levels of SPF:
- Olive oil has an SPF of 2-8.
- Sesame seed oil has an SPF of 4.
- Coconut oil has an SPF of 4-6.
- Shea butter has an SPF of 4-6. We like this one.
- Almond oil has an SPF of 5. This is a good one.
- Hemp seed oil has an SPF of 6.
- Zinc oxide has an SPF of of 2-20. Try this non-nano one.
- Aloe vera reportedly has an SPF of 20. Try this one.
- Wheat germ oil has an SPF of 20.
- Red raspberry leaf oil has an SPF of 25-50.
- Carrot seed oil has an SPF of 35-40. We like this one.
Making your own DIY sunscreen is easy. Start with a basic formula, like the one below, and add 2-3 SPF ingredients from above.
Basic homemade sunscreen formula
- 1/4 cup of coconut oil
- 1/4 cup of shea butter
- 2/3 cup of almond oil
- 2 tablespoons of beeswax to harden (if desired)
- 2-3 SPF ingredients, 1 teaspoon of each (2 teaspoons of zinc oxide)
What if you have oily skin? In that case, you want to avoid the higher comedogenic oils, such as coconut and olive. Almond oil and shea butter may not clog the pores as much.
- Place coconut oil, shea butter, almond oil, and beeswax in a small pot over med-low heat.
- Stir until beeswax is dissolved and remove from heat.
- Add zinc oxide and carrot seed oil and mix until smooth.
- Pour into a jar with a tight-fitting lid and allow to cool.
- Apply before sun exposure. Remember to re-apply every hour or two.
DIY Sunscreen Precautions
- Be careful not to inhale zinc oxide.
- Mix in your SPF oils after removing your lotion from heat.
- Keep in mind your SPF factor.
- Use natural and pure ingredients.
- Avoid using citrus essential oils in the sun.
How can I protect my skin from sun without sunscreen? Other sunscreen-free ideas.
While it’s smart to use sunscreen when outdoors for long periods of time, protecting your skin in other ways can be helpful too.
Slowly acclimate your skin to the sun. Do not go outside on day one of spring for four hours and expect to not get burnt! Expose your skin to the sun in fifteen minute increments until it can handle longer periods without burning.
Cover your skin when outdoors. Look for light-colored pants and long-sleeved shirts. The recent popularity of kid’s swim shirts is wonderful. Be sure to stock up on those, and if you are really outdoors tons, look into sun protective clothing like this or this.
Avoid going into the sun during the heat of the day, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Plan for shade. Bring an umbrella, sun tent, sun hat, or park yourself in a spot on the beach that has both sun and shade. We think this shark tent is adorable.