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You want to protect yourself and your family from sunburn, but you are troubled with the toxic ingredients contained in most drugstore sunscreen products. So what are you to do? Completely avoid using sunscreen at all? Stay indoors?
Luckily we can take our health into our own hands by using one of the many natural sunscreens that are popping up on the market, or we can make our own!
Honestly, I think we overuse sunscreen. We are so afraid of the sun, and yet we want to bake in it. We slather on SPF and sit in the sun for hours upon hours when in reality, we should really be practicing safe sun exposure.
Sunscreens give us a false sense of security and allow us to spend far too much time in direct sun. Many sunscreens only protect us from UVB rays - the ones that cause burns, they don't offer protection from UVA rays - which cause damage we can't see or feel.
We need broad-spectrum protection from both UVA and UVB rays.
There are times when we want to go to the beach, or we know we are going to be spending more time in direct sun. For those times, we want a natural sunscreen to protect our skin from sunburn. We also want some UVA protection and some antioxidants on our skin to repair the damage done.
In this article you will learn:
- Why it is essential to get some sun exposure
- How to enjoy the sun safely.
- Why make your own sunscreen?
- Natural ingredients with SPF.
- What you need to know about DIY sunscreen.
- Two DIY sunscreen recipes for you to make at home, as well as how to use them.
Why you Need Some Unprotected Sun Exposure
At this point, there are many concerns that we are not getting enough Vitamin D from the sun. Most of us do not work outside, and those of us who live in northern climates have limited sun opportunities.
The body makes Vitamin D when your skin is exposed to sunlight. Vitamin D deficiency is linked to many health conditions including, depression, cardiovascular disease, bone and muscle weakness, and cancer.
We have been covering up with heavy sunscreens that completely block the absorption of Vitamin D. What we should be doing instead is allowing for some sun exposure and building up a natural tan while protecting the skin from burning.
How To Enjoy The Sun Safely without Sunscreen
- Use the shade: Find yourself some shade to stay cool and out of direct sunlight if you are going to be out for a while. Big sun umbrellas are wonderful and mobile.
- Wear a sun hat: A sun hat is very useful for keeping your head, face, and shoulders guarded against the sun. You can be in direct sun exposure while still protecting the skin.
- Use clothing: Wear a loose fitted, white, long sleeve shirt to keep you cool and also guard you against the sun's direct rays.
- Build a gradual tan: Spend 15 minutes a day in the sun and build up a tan slowly.
Why Make Your Own Sunscreen?
Making your own cosmetics is a rewarding experience. You get to customize your formula based on effects and skin type, you can make it smell however you want, and you can avoid synthetic ingredients and chemical sunscreens.
[Read More: Chemical vs. Physical Sunscreens]
Natural Ingredients that Have SPF
I am not going to claim, as many bloggers do, that there is a list of natural ingredients with proven SPF. It just isn't the truth, as most of the SPF values being spouted off for natural ingredients have not been proven.
Instead, I am going to show you a handful of ingredients that I feel do have enough proof to qualify as natural sun protectors.
Other ingredients included in our recipe are there due to their antioxidant content. These ingredients will help reverse the damage that is being done by exposure to UV light.
Red Raspberry Seed Oil SPF
Red raspberry seed oil is comparable to titanium dioxide and has been shown to have an SPF of 28 - 50 for UVB rays and an SPF of 6.75 - 7.5 for UVA rays.
Non-Volatile and Volatile Oils with SPF
Nonvolatile oils were looked at for their SPF values in this study. They found these levels:
- Coconut and olive oil - SPF 8
- Castor oil - SPF 6
- Almond oil - SPF 5
- Mustard oil and chaulmoogra oil - SPF 3
- Sesame oil - SPF 2
Volatile Oils (essential oils) were found to have the following levels:
- Peppermint and Tulsi essential oils - SPF 7
- Lavender essential oil - SPF 6
- Orange essential oil - SPF 4
- Eucalyptus essential oil - SPF 3
- Tea tree essential oil - SPF 2
- Rose essential oil - SPF 1
Carrot Seed, Wheat Germ, and Jojoba Oil SPF
Another study looked at the SPF levels of carrot seed oil and wheat germ oil. They found:
- Carrot seed oil - SPF 19
- Wheat germ oil - SPF 22
- Jojoba oil - SPF 6
Zinc oxide offers broad-spectrum protection from both UVA and UVB rays (as well as some UVC rays).
This ingredient is going to give you the best sun protection and the most consistent. It is the only ingredient you should consider counting when deciding what SPF level you want your finished sunscreen to be.
Zinc oxide particles sit on the surface of the skin where they scatter, absorb, and reflect UV radiation.
When making your own sunscreen, the general guideline on SPF value is as follows:
- SPF 2-5: Use 5% zinc oxide
- SPF 6-11: Use 10% zinc oxide
- SPF 12-19: Use 15% zinc oxide
- SPF 20+: Use 20% zinc oxide
What you Need to Know About DIY Sunscreen
I recently read a great article about a woman who made her own sunscreen and had it lab tested for SPF. The level of SPF in her finished product was significantly less than what she calculated the SPF to be. This is because zinc oxide does not readily spread evenly, it has a tendency to clump together in a formula.
There is some controversy about DIY sunscreen and whether it is a safe product to make yourself. I agree that a DIY sunscreen won't have lab verification of it's SPF level, but I also know that it won't be full of nasty toxins and preservatives.
Should you ditch making your own? No, I don't think so. I do believe that if you make your own for the purpose of selling, you should have it tested. If you are making a sunscreen for yourself, be safe about it. Practice safe sun exposure and have a backup store-bought one in case you find your DIY sunscreen isn't strong enough.
Note: Zinc Oxide powder should be handled with a mask and gloves. It is not something you want to breathe in.
DIY Natural Sunscreen Recipes
The following recipes has not been tested by a regulatory organization for exact SPF. For this reason, I don’t make any claims or even guesses as to the combined SPF.
BASIC SUNSCREEN LOTION RECIPE
- 1 cup or 8 oz or 250 ml water
- 2 tablespoons or 1 oz or 30 grams grated beeswax
- 1 tablespoon or ½ oz or 15 grams shea butter
- ¾ cup or 6 oz or 180 ml vegetable oils with SPF
- 10 ml essential oils with SPF
- 4 tablespoons or 2 oz or 60 grams USP grade zinc oxide powder
You must be careful when handling zinc oxide powder, it is not good for your lungs. Wear a mask and gloves for protection.
- Wear a face mask and gloves.
- Heat vegetable oils, shea butter, and beeswax in a double boiler or water bath until melted.
- Remove from heat and let cool completely.
- Put the water in a blender. wIth the blender on high speed, slowly add the cooled oil and wax mixture. Blend until it emulsifies and forms a thick, creamy lotion.
- If you don't have a blender, you can use a wire whisk or beat the mixture with a wooden spoon.
- Add your essential oils drop by drop until you attain your required scent.
- Add the zinc oxide and stir until it dissolves.
- Pour everything into a jar and use as required.
- Store in the fridge to keep it for longer.
- Shake your sunscreen periodically to prevent it from separating.
A SECOND DIY SUNSCREEN RECIPE
- Step 1: Add all your ingredients to a large Mason jar *Except zinc oxide (added last)
- Step 2: Place your mason jar into a pot of heating water (about a quarter of water) to melt your combined ingredients. Stir together.
- Step 3: Once ingredients are fully melted together, slowly stir in your zinc oxide. * Do not inhale zinc oxide. I recommend wearing a mask.
- Step 4: Keep stirring until zinc oxide is fully mixed. Pour your mixture into your choice of glass jars. Let cool and store in a cool place.
Using your Natural Sunscreen
Mineral sunscreens like this do not penetrate your skin. They sit on top of your skin and reflect the sun’s rays. This means that you HAVE to reapply (generously) often.
There is no doubt that we choose a natural sunscreen over any conventional one. We are aware that there is no guarantee to the actual SPF rating when we make our own natural sunscreen, but combined with proper sun care, we feel confident you can protect yourself and enjoy the sunshine.
This recipe is safe for the whole family and can be reapplied multiple times throughout the day.
What do you think about homemade sunscreens? Have you had success with them? Is it something we should be making ourselves?
Let us know what you think in the comments below!