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Homemade All-Natural Sunscreen

My kids love to be outside all day long in the summertime, so sunscreen is a daily ritual in our house.  I prefer for  them to be outside without sunscreen for the first 20-30 minutes so that they can soak up the sun and make lots of Vitamin D!  But after that, I want to protect their sensitive skin.  If I am going to be putting something on their skin daily, I want it to provide protection but also to be safe and nourishing.  And so begins my experimentation 🙂 There are some nice natural sunscreens out there these days, but they are expensive!  I have been concocting my own sunscreen for the past two summers and I am finally ready to share my results.  This recipe is by far my favorite blend.

Zinc oxide is a natural mineral that forms a protective physical barrier over the skin and stops harmful UV rays.  Zinc oxide is particularly valuable because of its ability to filter UVA as well as UVB light, giving broad protection.  It is also quite water repellent.  I find that it provides longer lasting protection than using just straight oils.  When purchasing, be sure to get non-nano Zinc oxide.  You want the particles to be larger, so that it actually stays on the skin.  The one caution with Zinc oxide which, true of any powder really, is that you do not want to inhale it.  I don’t find that it billows at all when working with it, just take extra care.

The chart below shows the SPF of various oils, feel free to sub other oils into the recipe depending on what you have on hand.  You can also add essential oils if you want to add a scent to your sunscreen.  Be sure to avoid citrus oils as they can increase your sensitivity to the sun.  My recipe is made with 25% Zinc oxide.  Using the chart below, you can adjust the amount of zinc in the recipe to suit your needs.

 

Zinc Oxide

Concentration of Zinc Oxide in Formula SPF Protection
5% Low (2-5 SPF)
10% Moderate (6-11 SPF)
15% High (12-19 SPF)
25% Ultra High (>20 SPF)

Carrier Oils

Red Raspberry Seed Oil 30+ SPF
Carrot Seed Oil 30+ SPF
Coconut Oil 6-10 SPF
Shea Butter 6-10 SPF
Avocado Oil 4-10 SPF
Macadamia Nut Oil 6 SPF
Jojoba Oil 4 SPF
Sesame Oil 4 SPF
Grape Seed Oil 4 SPF

Ingredients:

1 fl. oz Carrot Seed Oil*
1 fl. oz Raspberry Seed Oil
1 fl oz. Calendula Infused Olive Oil
1 oz net wt. Coconut Oil
4 oz net wt. Shea Butter
1 oz net wt. chopped Beeswax (or beeswax pearls)
3 oz net wt. Zinc Oxide
1 Tsp Vitamin E

*Make sure you are purchasing the carrot seed carrier oil rather than the essential oil

 

Directions:

Weigh the Shea butter and add it to a large mixing bowl.  Break it up a bit with a spoon.

I like to blend the Shea butter into the cream rather than melting it with the other oils because Shea butter will get a gritty texture if heated for too long.  It is an extra step but very worth it in terms of the consistency of your final product!

sunscreen 5

Weigh the Zinc Oxide powder and add it into the bowl with the Shea butter

sunscreen 3

Chop the beeswax, if necessary

Measure/weigh the oils

Add the chopped beeswax and oils (raspberry seed, carrot seed, calendula infused olive and coconut) to a mason jar or heat safe measuring cup.  Place in a double boiler and warm gently until the beeswax is completely melted.

sunscreen 2

Pour the oil/beeswax mixture into the mixing bowl with the Shea butter and Zinc oxide powder.  Blend with a stick blender or hand blender until smooth and creamy.

Sunscreen 1

Pour into clean jars.  Allow the mixture to cool completely before placing the lid on the jar.

 

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19 Comments

  • Reply
    Amy
    May 25, 2014 at 11:30 pm

    Do you have an idea of how much all the ingredients cost to get & how long each batch lasts?

    • Reply
      the little herbal
      May 26, 2014 at 8:54 pm

      Great question. It will definitely vary depending on where you purchase your ingredients and the quality (like organic vs. conventional). I spend about about $25 per batch. The recipe yields just under a pint of sunscreen and lasts for up to a year.

  • Reply
    Berry Beautiful
    June 6, 2014 at 2:37 pm

    That sounds like such a wonderful sunscreen for the skin and great for the kids!
    If you’re ever in need of cold pressed Red Raspberry seed oil from the Pacific North West, send us a message or check us out.

    Stay Beautiful!

    -Erin

  • Reply
    Lelia
    July 19, 2014 at 10:06 am

    Faith! This recipe is brilliant! Does Rebecca’s carry the carrot and raspberry seed oil? I’m having a hard time finding the carrot seed online. Any thoughts?
    Thanks Lady! 🙂

    • Reply
      the little herbal
      July 19, 2014 at 8:21 pm

      Hi Lelia! Yes, Rebecca’s carries both the raspberry seed and the carrot seed oil. You can also purchase them at Liberty Naturals. Enjoy!

  • Reply
    Mary
    October 21, 2014 at 1:19 pm

    Hi,
    This recipe sounds great. Any suggestions for tweaking the recipe. I want a really thick paste that stays on to put on my face. I have a lot of discolorations from surfing and really want to protect my skin. I was thinking of adding a small amount of iron oxide as a tint so I could put it on thick on my face and have it stay on while I surf. Maybe just lower the amount of oil volume and increase the zinc?
    Any suggestions would be great since you played with the recipe a lot. Thanks and let me know.

    • Reply
      the little herbal
      October 21, 2014 at 8:54 pm

      You are on the right track! More zinc, more beeswax and less oil will make it firmer. You could also try increasing the shea butter as that has a nice thick consistency. Just a heads up, the more zinc you add, the whiter it will be on the skin. Have fun with it!

  • Reply
    Courtney
    June 23, 2015 at 1:36 pm

    Hi faith, I made this last nightand had an issue with the zinc clumping. I’d there something I can do to help this or is it normal?

    • Reply
      the little herbal
      June 23, 2015 at 3:12 pm

      Hi Courtney,
      Yes, this can happen if the sunscreen is not blended for long enough. At the end, you really have to keep blending and blending until the zinc is fully incorporated and the entire mixture is smooth and creamy. You should be able to remedy it! I would go ahead and gently warm your sunscreen in a double boiler for 5 minutes max (any more than that and you will end up with gritty shea butter) to loosen things up, then put your mixture back into a large mixing bowl and mix it again with a hand blender until the zinc is fully incorporated. Have fun!

  • Reply
    Boholistic Mom
    June 28, 2015 at 9:19 pm

    Why do you suggest using a carrot seed carrier oil rather than the essential oil? A carrier oil is something like coconut that companies mix into essential oils to dilute them.

    • Reply
      the little herbal
      June 29, 2015 at 3:01 pm

      Hi there,
      Thanks for the question. There is so much confusion online about the carrot seed oil SPF controversy. The study from 2009 that is often cited online tested the SPF results of sunscreen products containing herbs in them. The one containing carrot seed oil showed high SPF results. But it contained many other ingredients, so it is hard to say that it was specifically the carrot that gave it the SPF results. The prevailing belief is that the “fatty oil” of carrot was used and may have beneficial sun protection qualities. But further research is definitely necessary. The pressed fatty oils or carrier oils of plants often contain more of a broad spectrum of the plant’s constituents. They are definitely not just for diluting essential oils. Rather they are medicine in and of themselves, full of therapeutic herbal benefits. Essential oils, on the other hand, are concentrated extracts of volatile oils naturally occurring in plants. They have their own therapeutic benefits. According to Robert Tisserand, who is the leading expert on Aromatherapy in this country, essential oils DO NOT have sunscreen properties. Essential oils can have positive effects on skin that has been damaged by the sun, but in no way do they “protect” the skin from sunburns. I would research Robert Tisserand for more information. Hope this helps! Thanks for reading.

      • Reply
        Boholistic Mom
        June 29, 2015 at 9:51 pm

        The Little Herbal,

        I’ve looked into Robert Tisserand and I don’t really trust him. He is not a PHD and he is not a licensed ANYTHING. He analyzes research that he is unqualified to analyze. It very much frustrates me that he has practically no education and yet is considered an expert in aromatherapy.

        Here in his post on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/RobertTisserandEssentialTraining/posts/969961426368392, he makes assumptions about tests that were done, but has no facts about what oils were use in the test. He does not know, yet he supposes.

        Here is a post that shows that Essential Oils do have SPF properties. The ones tested were low SPF, but who knows what Carrot Seed Oil really has in regards to SPF.

        “Similarly SPF values for volatile oils were found to be in between 1 and 7. Out of these essential oils taken, the SPF value of peppermint oil and tulsi oil was found to be around 7; lavender oil, around 6; orange oil, around 4; eucalyptus oil, around 3; tea tree oil, around 2; and rose oil, around 1. Hence it can be concluded that peppermint oil and tulsi oil have the best SPF values, a finding that will be helpful in the selection of perfumes during the formulation of sunscreens.”

        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3140123/

  • Reply
    corinn
    September 13, 2015 at 9:38 pm

    I am having a difficult time finding at what proportions to utilize red raspberry seed oil to receive a specific SPF content. Do you happen to know what 1oz of raspberry seed oil in this formulation will provide for SPF? Or, is it simply once included, the SPF is there? I know in using things such as Shea and Coconut, often a decent amount is used and therefore the additional SPF of 4 is present, but can not find much on the topic of red raspberry seed oil.
    Thanks for listening.

    • Reply
      Berry Beautiful
      September 14, 2015 at 4:50 pm

      Hello Corinn,

      We produce red raspberry seed oil from seed to oil and have been working with it for a number of years.
      There is no way to find the exact SPF of a product without doing an analysis of the formulation or ingredient. Sunscreens are regulated by the FDA and require an “Active Ingredient” such as zinc oxide, non-nano zinc oxide or titanium dioxide/other ingredients and must be analyzed for SPF on every batch made. These ingredients paint your skin with reflective mineral particles that only assist in reflecting radiation and do little to nothing in helping the skin heal from the damage cause by the radiation that makes it through. In reality, anything that covers your skin (mud is a great sun protection) will provide some sort of sun protection. This formulation calls for 7%-8% Red Raspberry Seed Oil along with 23% Zinc Oxide. The Zinc Oxide is providing most of the SPF while the other ingredients compliment one and other.

      When using Red Raspberry Seed Oil in a formulation the sun protecting properties will be diluted by any other ingredient used that doesn’t compliment it. Since oils absorb quickly into our skins beeswax and/or other suspending ingredients are used to keep the product from absorbing rapidly. Red Raspberry Seed Oil is so wonderful because it actively scavenges for free radicals caused by direct sun exposure/burns (UVB) as well as protecting the skin from everyday UVA radiation. We hope that as the use of Red Raspberry Seed Oil becoming more and more mainstream that more studies come forth along with it.

  • Reply
    Courtney
    October 5, 2015 at 8:26 am

    Ahh! I forgot to add the olive oil and not have a finished product. Can I re warm it in a double boiler and add the oil and mix again?

    • Reply
      the little herbal
      October 5, 2015 at 8:57 pm

      Bummer! Unfortunately if you warm it again, the shea butter will turn gritty. But the product should still be great without the infused olive oil, it will just be a bit firmer.

  • Reply
    Cathie Devore
    March 30, 2016 at 9:41 am

    Hi Faith! Thanks so much for this recipe! I have a question…is the SPF associated with the zinc oxide used in your recipe independent of the choice of carrier oils added? In other words, is the SPF of 20 or greater calculated on just the zinc oxide portion of 3 ounces, net weight? And not the oils? Thanks again!

    • Reply
      the little herbal
      April 1, 2016 at 9:20 pm

      Hi Cathie! I would calculate the SPF based on the percentage of zinc oxide in your formula. There has been lots of research done on the SPF of zinc so you can really count on that. The carrier oils that have a high SPF are pretty new to the scene and there needs to be more research into their effectiveness. I like to add them in addition to the zinc oxide to boost the effectiveness of my sunscreen and nourish the skin. But I like knowing that the zinc is in there too!

      • Reply
        Cathie Devore
        April 11, 2016 at 9:21 am

        Thanks so much, Faith! I truly appreciate you getting back to me! Many blessings to you!

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