I've spent the last eight years in search of the perfect sunscreen. The problem is, that even my favorite, all-natural brands contain ingredients that I don't love, so I've finally given in and decided to make some myself.
This homemade sunscreen is water resistant, made of all healthy ingredients, goes on like a dream, and really works. And best of all, it only took a few minutes to whip together. Easy-peasy goodness.
Why we need sunshine
While I make sure to always wear a big brimmed hat to ward off wrinkles, you may be surprised to learn that I actually think it's important to get sun exposure each and every day. I'm not a fan of slathering my kids in creams and sprays to block out every ray of sun.
Sunshine is the best way for humans to make Vitamin D, a super important nutrient required for a healthy immune system, strong bones and teeth, proper hormone function, and so much more. You can read more about the health benefits of sun-worshipping here, and about how to get Vitamin D when there's no sun in this post.
Despite the reasons why you shouldn't fear sunshine, it's still important to avoid burning your skin.
Being half Filipino and naturally brown, I've never had much of a need for sunscreen unless I'm in the sun for a long time or at high noon. My husband and kids, on the other hand, have strong English genes for white, burn-in-the-sun skin. Add that to our Southern California beach-hike-swimming-pool lifestyle, and as you can imagine, I tend to need sunscreen by the gallon.
Crafting the perfect homemade sunscreen
The problem with many recipes for homemade sunscreen I've found is that they don't really stay put while swimming in a pool or frolicking in the ocean. Not very helpful for my California babes.
So, I checked in with my friend Heather over at Mommypotamus.com, the unofficial queen of DIY. Starting with her non-toxic homemade sunscreen, I began to play with proportions of beeswax, solid fat, liquid oils, and zinc.
Like Heather, I chose uncoated, non-nano zinc which has a big enough particle size so that it is not absorbed into the skin where it can have toxic effects. Get uncoated, non-nano zinc here.
Beeswax gives this sunscreen its water resistance. Cocoa butter and coconut oil are made of stable fats so they don't go rancid quickly, and they both protect against the sun damage. Cocoa butter also imparts its delicious chocolatey scent.
To make the sunscreen spreadable even on a cooler morning, I added a small amount of liquid oil. I chose a combination of jojoba, carrot seed, and argan oils. Jojoba has a fairly long shelf-life for a liquid seed oil. Carrot seed and argan oil are both super rich in antioxidants, and carrot seed oil is said to have a natural SPF of 38-40. You could use these, or simply use extra virgin olive oil or another cold-pressed oil.
Because this lotion spreads easily, you can opt for a thin or thicker layer depending on how long you plan to be in the sun and water. We prefer a slightly thinner layer and then reapply every couple of hours as needed.
Finally, I found the awesome refillable silicone squeeze tubes, pictured above and below, which make a neat and tidy way to tote my new sunscreen to the beach or pool. They're even the perfect size for airport security so your homemade goodness can travel with you on distant, sunny adventures.
Homemade sunscreen ingredients & supplies
(makes 1 cup homemade sunscreen)
- 2 ounces beeswax – get it here
- 2 ounces cocoa butter – get it here
- 2 ounces coconut oil – I buy this one by the gallon
- 2 ounces liquid oil – total (I used a combination of these jojoba, carrot seed, argan oil)
- 2 ounces zinc – get uncoated, non-nano here
- Kitchen scale
- Double boiler (I use a metal bowl over a small pot of simmering water)
- Squeeze tubes, optional – I love these refillable, silicone tubes
Homemade sunscreen method
- Finely grate the beeswax and weigh the grated bits to 2 ounces.
- In a double boiler, melt the beeswax, cocoa butter, and coconut oil until liquid. Remove from heat.
- Slowing whisk in the zinc, stirring until all lumps are gone. When this mixture is slightly cooled, stir in the liquid oil until well combined.
- Use a butter knife to scoop the sunscreen into the squeeze bottles. Or store in a glass jar with a lid.
My homemade sunscreen experiment
My homemade sunscreen smells like chocolate cream, and while it's quite thick and white, it goes on fairly sheer.
After two hours of non-stop swimming between 1-3pm in May, my little white girl showed no signs of burn. My son, who would not hold still for the camera didn't pink up either.
Two days later, my hubby (and self-declared family guardian of white skin) tested it on all three of them while marching in a hot and sunny memorial day parade. It got the seal of approval as our family's official sunscreen for the summer. Woo hoo!
Planning a fun and sunny summer? Go grab these ingredients and get mixing!
Not ready to make your own? Get the next best thing here.