I LOVE the sun. I grew up in Hawaii and now live in sunny San Diego, so being in the sun and spending a lot of time outdoors is just part of my daily life. And my kids love playing outside too.
The struggle though has been to find sunscreen that can protect my kids but doesn’t have all the toxic chemicals in it.
See the problem with traditional sunscreens – especially those marketed for children – are some of the worst out there in terms of chemicals and additives. For instance, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Consumer Reports warns not to use aerosol spray sunscreens on babies and children because the particles from the spray that can be inhaled or swallowed can be harmful to kids.1
Uh, I don’t know about you but that’s pretty alarming to me. And every time I go to the beach or the pool, I see parents spraying their kids with aerosol sunscreens like there’s no tomorrow – most likely because they aren’t aware of the dangers of traditional sunscreens.
But that’s not all, traditional sunscreens have other ingredients that can be harmful to children, including oxybenzone (can cause allergic skin reactions), retinyl palmitate (may speed the development of skin tumors), and nano or micronized zinc oxide (can penetrate the skin and cause health issues). Check out the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) list of worst scoring sunscreens for kids – which includes a list of very popular sunscreens marketed for children and families.
Which is why I’ve choose to make my own DIY sunscreen. I actually came up with this recipe on accident. I was making another batch of my Homemade Body Butter and thought – hmmm, what if I just added some zinc oxide as a sun block and beeswax to firm up the consistency. And BAM! That’s how this recipe was born. DIY is so much fun!
How to Make Homemade Sunscreen
About the Ingredients
Coconut oil is the carrier oil in this recipe and has a natural 4-6 SPF.
Shea butter also serves as a carrier oil and helps to moisturize the skin.
Beeswax helps to keep the sunscreen in a more solid consistency – perfect for a sunscreen stick or those hot, summer days – and locks the sunscreen and moisture to the skin.
Lavender essential oil is soothing to the skin and has a calming aroma – making it a perfect addition to any beauty or body care product.
Zinc oxide (non nano) powder is a non-toxic sunblock that is the main ingredient in most sunscreens. It’s the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) first choice for sun protection. It’s stable in sunlight AND provides protection for both UVA and UVB rays (the two types of ultraviolet radiation from the sun). Choose non-nano zinc oxide powder as the particles are larger and won’t penetrate into the skin – that’s what makes zinc oxide give that white, chalky color that lifeguards used to wear. Conversely, nano or micronized zinc oxide have tiny particles and can enter the body through the skin – which may lead to health issues, thus it should be avoided.
Zinc Oxide Guidelines
So how much non-nano zinc oxide should you use? Use 10% zinc oxide to get about a SPF 10. Use 20% zinc oxide to get about a SPF 20.
So you can add a bit more to get a higher SPF, but really more than about SPF 25-30 isn’t really necessary as it’ll give you a false sense of sun protection. Rather than use a super high SPF, re-apply more often. I usually re-apply every hour, especially on my fair-skinned son.
The zinc does help this Homemade DIY Sunscreen to be waterproof too – but like anything – e.g. friction, sweat, etc. can all play a role. Don’t let the fact that zinc oxide is naturally waterproof give you a false sense of security that your kids can be out all day in the water without re-applying.
I suggest re-applying this Homemade Sunscreen at least hourly, and if you’re playing sports or in the water a lot, keep checking to make sure you have enough coverage. Yes, I know commercial sunscreens may stay on the skin for hours at a time, but WHY. What is in those sunscreens that it actually stays on the skin for hours on end. I’d rather choose to re-apply often and use my Homemade Sunscreen than expose my family to toxic chemicals.
See this kid? Yep, I don’t want to put anything toxic on him. So he’s got on my Homemade DIY Sunscreen.
Homemade DIY Sunscreen Tutorial
- 1 cup organic coconut oil (you could also do 1/2 cup coconut oil and 1/2 cup other carrier oil – like red raspberry oil, which is also has a natural SPF)
- 1/2 cup shea butter
- 1/4 cup beeswax pastilles
- 1/3 cup zinc oxide (non nano)
- 10 drops Lavender essential oil (where to buy)
- In a double boiler, add coconut oil, shea butter, beeswax and zinc oxide.
- Stir until beeswax is melted in mixture.
- Remove from heat, and add Lavender essential oil
- Fill these 2 oz. roll-up containers or these 2 oz. jars to make about 6 sunscreen containers to take on the go. You can use bigger containers too – it’s totally your preference. You’ll have about 12 oz of sunscreen with this recipe.
- Let the sunscreen cool for at least two hours before use, and store in a cool, dry place. Keep it out of direct sunlight. It has the beeswax to keep it from completely melting but direct sunlight and a hot environment may make it lose its solid-like consistency.
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