DIY projects – Make your own sunscreens

First choose your SPF

Different amounts of zinc oxide are needed depending on what SPF you would like your lotion to be. Once you have chosen the SPF a little math is involved. The zinc oxide must be a certain percentage of the weight of your ingredients (before adding the zinc oxide). For this reason, it’s easiest to use a kitchen scale when making your sunscreen. For example, if you have 2 ounces of lotion and you’d like to make SPF 10 sunscreen, according to the values below you will need to add .2 ounces of zinc oxide to the lotion. Use the zinc oxide recommendations below. Make sure to put on a mask when handling zinc oxide to avoid breathing in the fine particles of zinc oxide powder.

For SPF 2-5: Use 5% zinc oxide
For SPF 6-11: Use 10% zinc oxide
For SPF 12-19: Use 15% zinc oxide
For SPF >20: Use 20% zinc oxide

Zinc oxide (non-nano) – a non-toxic, usually non-irritating, effective broad spectrum sunblock. The particles sit on the outermost layer of your skin, scattering and absorbing UVA and UVB rays, protecting the skin below. Be sure to use non-nano zinc oxide to produce a natural homemade sunscreen.

Important: Nano or micronized zinc oxide has been treated to reduce the size of its particles, creating an ultrafine powder. When added to sunscreens it does not leave a white film on the skin, thus making it a popular choice in many commercial sunscreens. The problem with this is that the particles are so small they can enter the body through the skin, causing potential health problems. When shopping for zinc oxide be sure to purchase a non-nano zinc oxide that has particle sizes as large as possible. (Anything with a particle size smaller than 100nm is considered a nano.)

Recipe #1

2 tbs organic coconut oil
1 tbs organic shea butter
1 tbs organic avocado oil
1/2 tsp organic sesame oil
1/2 tsp organic aloe vera gel
30 drops organic carrot seed oil

Melt the coconut oil and shea butter in a double boiler by putting the oils in a bowl that is placed in a pan of hot water.
Add the remaining ingredients and mix well.
Pour the oil into a clean glass jar and let the mixture cool down.


Recipe #2

1 oz. coconut oil
0.8 oz. shea butter
0.1 oz. jojoba, sesame, or sunflower oil
0.1 oz. Vitamin E oil
30 drops essential oils, optional – I use 15 lavender, 10 eucalyptus, 5 peppermint
zinc oxide powder (determine amount for 2 oz. of lotion)

Add coconut oil, shea butter, and jojoba/sesame/sunflower oil in a double boiler by putting the oils in a bowl that is placed in a pan of hot water. Remove from double boiler and allow to cool a little. Put on a mask that covers your nose and mouth (to avoid breathing in the fine particles of zinc oxide powder), and measure out your zinc oxide. Add zinc oxide, Vitamin E oil, and optional essential oils to the other ingredients. Stir well to combine. Store in a dark jar in the refrigerator.


Recipe #3

½ cup almond or olive oil (can infuse with herbs first if desired)
¼ cup coconut oil (natural SPF 4)
¼ cup beeswax
2 Tablespoons Zinc Oxide (This is a non-nano version that won’t be absorbed into the skin. Be careful not to inhale the powder).
Optional: up to 1 teaspoon Red Raspberry Seed Oil
Optional: up to 1 teaspoon Carrot Seed Oil
Optional: up to 1 teaspoon Vitamin E oil
Optional: 2 tablespoons Shea Butter (natural SPF 4-5)
Optional: Essential Oils, Vanilla Extract or other natural extracts to suit your preference

Combine ingredients except zinc oxide oil in a double boiler by putting them in a bowl that is placed in a pan of hot water. As the water heats, the ingredients in the bowl will start to melt. Stir occasionally to incorporate. When all ingredients are completely melted, add the zinc oxide, stir in well and pour into whatever jar or tin you will use for storage. Small mason jars (pint size) are great for this. It will not pump well in a lotion pump!
Stir a few times as it cools to make sure zinc oxide is incorporated.
Use as you would regular sunscreen. Best if used within six months.

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