As we move into the dog days of summer, many of us are slathering on the sunscreen while outdoors (check out Katherine's recent post on 10 safe sunscreens for the whole family to find a non-toxic one that's on the shelves). While these are a good alternative to the conventional, endocrine-disrupting sunscreen formulas out there, for the budget-conscious or diehard do-it-yourselfers, healthy and effective sunblocks can also be made at home, at a fraction of the cost of store-bought products.
Homemade vs. commercial sunscreensOf course, there are some advantages and disadvantages to be considered when deciding between homemade sunblocks or those bought in a store, and between liquid or bar-form. Leisha of Homemade Toast notes that commercial brands are often easier and quicker to apply, and typically has a higher SPF and is waterproof, but can have hormone-altering and possibly carcinogenic chemicals. On the other hand, liquid homemade sunblock is also easy to apply, but typically has a lower SPF, whitens skin and isn't very waterproof. Solid sunblock in the form of bars is waterproof, but once again, does whiten skin slightly, takes a while to apply, and also has a lower SPF compared to commercial brands. However, most DIY recipes we've come across come out with around 15 to 20 SPF -- more than enough protection for the average person.
The sun protection factor (SPF) will depend on how much sun-blocking component like zinc oxide is added into the mix, so if more protection is needed, more zinc oxide can be added. Zinc oxide can be purchased online in a pharmaceutical grade, "non-nano" powder form that won't be absorbed by the skin. (See here why the nanoparticle form of zinc oxide should not be used.) Make sure to use a mask while mixing in the zinc oxide, so as to avoid breathing it in.
Here are a few recipes to start you off in making some inexpensive sun protection at home. Frugal Green Girl gives a great video tutorial with commentary, perfect for beginners.
Here are two basic recipes for DIY sunblock in solid and lotion form, adapted via Homemade Toast.
Homemade Sunblock – Waterproof Bars(approximately 20 SPF)
1.5 oz beeswax
1.5 oz shea butter
1.5 oz coconut oil
1 oz zinc oxide
optional: 10 drops of essential oils like lavender, eucalyptus and peppermint
1. Melt the beeswax, shea butter and coconut oil together. (use a bain-marie / double boiler until ingredients are softened)
2. Remove from heat and stir in zinc oxide (wear a mask). Pour into molds.
3. Let cool completely. Remove from molds – refrigerate until use.
Homemade Sunblock – Lotion(approximately 20 SPF)
2 oz shea butter
2 oz coconut oil
1 oz zinc oxide
optional: 8 drops of essential oils like lavender, eucalyptus and peppermint
1. Melt the shea butter and coconut oil together. (use a bain-marie / double boiler until ingredients are softened)
2. Remove from heat and stir in zinc oxide (wear a mask). Pour into container.
3. Let cool completely before use. Store at room temperature.
Got other DIY sunscreen recipes, stories or tips? Let us know in the comments below!