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How to make DIY Natural Sunscreen | Simple, Quick & Easy

One ocean solution option against the use of chemical sunscreens is to make your own DIY mineral-based sunscreen. It’s fun. It’s easy and so far as the research and testing goes, a better option for your own and the ocean’s health than chemical-based sunscreen affecting ocean health. Here is an easy and quick DIY natural sunscreen recipe.

(& Here is an extensive blog post about sunscreen and the environment and our health).

How does DIY mineral based sunscreen protect you from the sun?

The sun blocking ingredient in DIY sunscreen is Zinc Oxide (or also used: titanium oxide). These minerals reflect rays and work as a shield as opposed to the chemical sunscreens that our body absorbs. Every percentage of zinc in the mix is around SPF 2.  So if your blend is 10% zinc and 90% other oils you have a sunscreen of SPF 20. Additionally, different oils have a certain SPF as well (though no hardcore data on this exist), and feed the skin.

Is DIY mineral based Sunscreen risky and dangerous?

The reasoning that some articles claim that DIY sunscreen is dangerous is because you can’t verify the SPF with homemade sunscreens. So you’re not that sure on how long it will work and how often you have to re-apply. The mainstream sunscreen may have a more accurate SPF and big budgets to test and improve but they also have hormone disrupters, chemicals, ocean killing ingredients, and commercial interest. Above all, sunscreen is the last resort. Before you use sunscreen, do everything else right in the first place.

I just made my first sunscreen and I would like to share the result and lessons learned with you.

Words of warning: I’m not a trained or professional cosmetic creator. I’m simply curious, creative and looking for simple and natural ways to make a positive impact on the ocean and the people around. I research far and beyond to get to well-researched data to make it easier for you to make better decisions. Use this advice with caution and find out what works best for you, while considering the health of the ocean we’re all dependent on.

How to Make DIY natural Sunscreen?

Step 1. Source the natural sunscreen ingredients

Ingredients for DIY mineral-based sunscreen:

  • Coconut Oil (SPF 4-6)
  • Almond Oil (SPF 5)
  • Jojoba Oil (SPF 4)
  • Rose Hip Oil
  • Zinc Oxide Powder (Every % of the total mix is +/-1 SPF 2)
  • Shea Butter (SPF 4-6)
  • Cacao butter
  • Love <3

Finding the ingredients for this natural sunscreen is the most time-consuming part. I did the leg work for you. At the end of this blog, I recommend some places (in different countries) where you can source the ingredients.

Other cold-pressed oils can be considered too. Have a look what you have in your house or boat already.  The main working ingredient is Zinc Oxide. The different oils also have an SPF (especially seed oils are said to generally have a high protection factor). But I haven’t found hardcore data on the true SPF of the different oils. Also, some oils smell nicer than others. Here are some more oils to consider that I’ve seen being used in sunscreens:

  • Olive Oil  – 2-8
  • Hemp Seed Oil – SPF 6
  • Macadamia Oil – SPF 6
  • Carrot Seed Oil – SPF 38 – 40
  • Avocado Oil – 4 – 10 (can get as high as 15)
  • Sesame Seed Oil – SPF 4
  • Raspberry Seed Oil (SPF 25-50)

I visited tons of blogs on DIY sunscreen recipes. Also, I’ve looked at the ingredient lists of numerous mineral-based sunscreens. Based on what I could source, what is vegan, and what has proven to work well with others I choose to mix the 7 ingredients for mineral based sunscreen as listed above. It turned out pretty good! What I’ve learned is important is to mix with an oil and a thicker butter (I choose cacao butter and shea butter). Often also beeswax is used for a thicker consistency is used but beeswax often comes with other ethical issues.

 

Step 2. Mix the sunscreen ingredients ‘Au Bain Marie’

Put in a glass or bowl:

  • 1 Spoon of Coconut Oil
  • 1 Spoon of Almond Oil
  • 1 Spoon of Jojoba Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Rose Hip Oil
  • 2 Spoons of Shea Butter
  • 1  3cm x 3cm block of Cacao Butter

At last: add 2 Spoons of Zinc Oxide Powder (or more if you’d like a higher protection ratio).

This recipe, I estimate to be +/- SPF 25. To increase SPF add an extra spoon of Zinc Oxide powder.

Put this glass or bowl in a pan with warm water so the cold oils will melt and you can mix the ingredients. I wouldn’t let it boil. It may damage the good properties and there is no need. I found a glass useful since it will stand on the bottom of the pan (and not float and risk water ingress).

You also have specialized au bain marie melting pots if you’re looking to go advanced.

Step 3. Put the mixture in a practical package

See if you have something that you can re-use. I used a little metal container originally used for loose tea. Works great!

Some suggestions for sunscreen packaging:

  • An old pill jar
  • An old sunscreen or shampoo bottle
  • An empty soap pump
  • A glass jar (if you’re not travelling)
  • A metal container

Step 4. Let your sunscreen cool down

This will make the sunscreen more solid.

Step 5. Try it out! And go play in the outdoors

I’m surprisingly pleased with the result. The sunscreen feels like a little spa on my face. It applies well and I have not got sunburned in the hot Spanish sun so far. You do need to spread it out well to not be as white as ghost. But this mixture makes me way less white than other mineral sunscreens I’m testing. The cacao butter smell is a bit dominating. I don’t mind this. To me, it tastes like the tropics. My skin feels soft and nurtured. If you’ll be surfing or sailing the full day I recommend to increase the % of Zinc Oxide powder to have a higher grade of protection and/or re-apply throughout the day.

Let me know how you like it! And how this works for you.

Recommended Mineral-Based sunscreen on the market

DIY mineral based sunscreen not for you? Here are some recommendations for mineral-based sunscreens out on the market. I’m putting them all to the test. Soon I’ll have the results online!

Where to find the DIY Mineral based Sunscreen Ingredients?

Find the ingredients as local as you can. Here’s why. Check out the herbal shop, pharmacy or eco shop near you. Alternatively, we have: the internet ;).

Zinc Oxide Powder (Buy in: USAUKNetherlandsFranceSpainElsewhere in Europe)

Extra Virgin Coconut Oil (Buy in: USAUKNetherlands – Spain)

Almond Oil (Buy in: USAUKNetherlandsSpain)

Jojoba Oil (Buy in: USAUKNetherlandsSpain)

Rose Hip Oil (Buy in: USAUKNetherlandsSpain)

Shea Butter (Buy in: USAUKNetherlands – Spain)

Cacao butter (Buy in: USAUKNetherlandsSpain)

Raspberry Seed Oil (Buy in: USAUKNetherlands )

Zero Waste Sunscreen Packaging

In the USA/ Canada

 

In Europe

 

FAQ

What is the shelve life of natural based sunscreen?

Individually the ingredients of this recipe all have a considerable shelf life. This recipe doesn’t have any conserving ingredients. As far as my research and testing has gone so far this mixture won’t go bad quickly.  Zinc Oxide does not deteriorate over time and has an indefinite shelf life, “which means that they are extremely stable and can tolerate high heat, UV light and moisture without disintegration (1)”

The sunscreen diminishes quicker when exposed to heat, which is likely because we take this stuff to the beach and sun. Try to store it in a dark and cool place. No need to have it in the fridge. When the sunscreen starts to look grainy or doesn’t apply well to the skin it may be time to shake things up to see if it returns to it’s creamy form. Un unpleasant sell could be another clue of expiration.

How to increase the SPF?

This recipe, I estimate to be +/- SPF 25. To increase SPF add an extra spoon of Zinc Oxide powder.

References

In vitro sun protection factor determination of herbal oils used in cosmetics

In-Depth Blog on DIY Sunscreen from Wellnessmama

What happens when sunscreen expires?

How long does sunscreen last before it expires?

Learn more about sunscreen and the ocean

Biodegradable sunscreen for a healthy ocean and healthy you. What to know? What to choose?

The 7 dangerous ingredients of Sunscreen

Why oxybenzone and octinoxate are bad for reefs

A Single Drop of Sunscreen Can Kill Coral

 

As always, opinions are my own. No organisation or brand is paying me to write this or mention them. Sometimes links to ocean-friendly items contain affiliate links. If you’re looking to purchase something, huge thanks if you purchase it via this website (but try to find it locally first). At no extra cost to you, orders and bookings through this website give me a tiny piece of the pie that help me keep investigating, exploring and creating content about ocean action and solutions! Here are more ways to support ocean awareness and action. Splashthanks!


 

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