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Homemade Sunscreen Lotion Bars

on May 21 | in DIY Beauty | by | with 96 Comments

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Seven Hours And Thirteen Minutes

Give or take a few, that’s the distance from my front porch to sugar white sand beaches. Daddypotamus and I are hoping to take the potami to our favorite getaway spot sometime this summer, but we’ll probably have to work it in with just a teeny bit of notice. Though I’ve been making homemade sunscreen for years, I don’t usually make it in advance because the shelf life of the base –  my homemade lotion – is shorter than those preserved with chemicals. Most days we skip sunscreen altogether and use antioxidants instead, but on days we are going to be out much longer than usual we do use sunscreen.

Inspired by a conversation with a friend, I decided to re-work the lotion bar from DIY Organic Beauty Recipes into something we could use as sunscreen. This recipe should last about one year, so we’re ready to go anytime. Crossing my fingers – it’s been way too long!

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Why These Ingredients?

These sunscreen lotion bars use ingredients that are considered uniquely beneficial for nourishing and protecting sun-exposed skin.

Coconut Oil – According to this study, coconut oil has an SPF of around 8. Though it is unclear from the summary whether refined or extra virgin coconut oil was used, other studies I’ve read suggest that it was probably the antioxidant-rich extra virgin variety.

Shea Butter – This decadent moisturizer contains cinnamic acid, which absorbs UVB rays. It is generally thought to have an SPF of around 6, but that can vary depending on how refined it is and whether or not it has been sitting on the shelf a long time.

Beeswax – Though it’s main purpose in this bar is to hold everything together, it is considered by some skin care companies to have antioxidant and moisturizing properties

Zinc Oxide – Many of the new generation of sunscreens – and this includes almost all “healthy” mineral sunscreens listed by the Environmental Working Group – contain titanium and/or zinc nano particles. Unlike chemical sunscreens which absorb rays, zinc oxide provides a physical barrier between us and the sun. These minerals are considered non-toxic in their natural forms, and it was assumed the mini-sized versions would be equally safe. Unfortunately, new research links them to accelerated skin aging, cancer and environmental toxicity.

What Does SPF Really Mean?

Huge differences in SPF numbers are actually pretty insignificant when it comes to differences in protection. SPF 100 blocks 99 percent of UVB rays, while SPF 50 blocks 98 percent. SPF 30 blocks 96.7 percent, SPF 15 blocks 93%.

When deciding how much zinc oxide to add, anywhere from 5-20% of the total solution is often used. Though it will vary a little from batch to batch, the bars I made with this recipe are about 12% zinc oxide by weight. I have not tested it in a lab for SPF value.

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Sunscreen Lotion Bar Recipe

Makes approximately two 2.75 oz bars

Ingredients (By Weight)

Special Equipment

silicone mold, muffin tin or other mold

Instructions

  1. Gently melt coconut oil, beeswax, and shea butter in a double boiler.
  2. Stir ingredients until smooth and melted.
  3. Remove from heat. Add zinc oxide. If you’re adding optional essential oils/Vitamin E, add them, too.
  4. Stir until blended, then pour into molds. Silicon muffin tins work well.
  5. Allow to cool before removing from tin. If you’d like to speed things along, pop the in the freezer for 10-20 minutes.

Cleanup Tip

Clean your pot, stirring utensils, etc. before the mixture cools. Start by wiping everything with paper towels and then scrub in hot, soapy water.

To Apply

Rub on skin and massage in. I apply generously and frequently on days that we are going to be out for a long time.

Important Note

These bars will melt in the hot sun. Store indoors and apply before going out.

Looking For More Recipes?

diy-beauty-ebook-cover

My ebook, DIY Organic Beauty Recipes, is a 198 page guide that will show you how ridiculously easy it is to make your own beauty products, like:

  • Quick yet luxurious gifts for friends and baby showers
  • Fabulous shampoos and conditioners
  • Tooth whitener
  • Lotion
  • Body sprays
  • Deodorants and more.

Check it out here

 

 

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96 Responses to Homemade Sunscreen Lotion Bars

  1. Sarah Bayless via FB says:

    Allison Dolliver

  2. Meredith Armbrust via FB says:

    Thank you! Ordering the ingredients to make this right now.

  3. Never used a bar sunscreen before. How is it applied? I hate doing sunscreen and one of my daughters is allergic to most brands would like to make some

  4. Vanessa Everman via FB says:

    I have 2 very white skinned babies and they still get sun through store bought sunscreen. How do you think this would hold up against the sun on their skin? Same as store bought?

    • Cheryl says:

      Should work great. We have the same issue, but this is similar to the very expansive mexitan which works pretty well for us. But I do know if we burn I rub the pure shea butter on it and it helps with the burn pain, but also the burn goes within 48 hours usually and no peeling!

  5. Jaci VW says:

    These sound amazing and I am eager to try this. Do you know if there is much of a white residue left on the skin from the zinc oxide?

  6. Jennifer Mitchell via FB says:

    Ohhh how you read my mind. Was about to come to your site vas look up!

  7. The Guggie Daily thought you might be interested

  8. Danita says:

    Question for you – how often would these bars need to be re-applied under bright sun exposure? Would it be considered water-resistant at all given the coconut oil?

    We’re trying to up antioxidant intake, but it’s a slow process as we’re still learning, so I will feel a lot better about our super fair-skinned family with a good, clean sunscreen this summer. :) Thank you for this recipe!

  9. Vanessa MacLean via FB says:

    Vamos fazer, Juliana Reigal?

  10. Emily Paskaruk via FB says:

    Ooh, Ramona!

  11. Ahhhh ce ta brincaaaandoooooo!

  12. Monica says:

    Is there supposed to be weights for the coconut oil, Shea butter, and zinc?

    • Heather says:

      I listed everything in kitchen measurements because I figured that is easier to follow for most people, but I remember correctly the weights are:

      2 oz each for the coconut oil and shea butter
      1 oz beeswax
      .6 oz zinc oxide

      • Monica says:

        Thank you. I only asked because it says, “ingredients (by weight).” I love using my scale for making things like this; it’s so much easier than greasy measuring cups.

      • Mrs G says:

        In the post you write:
        1/3 cup melted coconut oil
        1/3 cup shea butter
        1/2 cup grated, tightly packed beeswax – about 2 oz weighed
        2 rounded tablespoons plus 1.5 teaspoons uncoated, non-nanoparticle zinc oxide

        while in the comment you specify only 1 oz beeswax.
        Which one is correct? I suppose 2 oz, but I’d like to double check.
        Thanks

  13. Pra já, Vanessa MacLean!!!

  14. Amanda Watkins Conger via FB says:

    Sherry Sehorn Dolejsi I think I might make some of this!!

  15. Allison Morris Wrenn – You rub it on in the same way that you would a bar of soap, only in this case you rub it in like lotion rather than rinse it off.

  16. Is this water resistant? Just curious if it would work for a kid who likes to swim a lot.

    • Gudrun B says:

      i would assume some water resistance given the mixture of oils and bees wax, but i have not tried it yet!

  17. Azziza Jane via FB says:

    I’m hoping to make this soon…only I’m going to put it in 2oz twist up tubes to make application super easy.

  18. Veronica says:

    Wow this is great! I am so making these! Do you have to wet the bar first to use it or do you just rub away?

  19. Teri Petri via FB says:

    Misty Bentz

  20. Veronica Stanley Hooper via FB says:

    Mommypotamus–>do you wet the skin first (or the bar?)

  21. Sherry Sehorn Dolejsi via FB says:

    Yes, I would love to try this Amanda Watkins Conger! Let me know and I’ll help you!

  22. Amber Rose via FB says:

    Mommypotamus, have you used this through a summer? The ingredients seem like the bar would melt in the hot sun.

  23. Stacey Cafagna – I wouldn’t classify it as water resistant, unfortunately.

  24. Margaret Keohane Smith via FB says:

    Awesome natural recipe Trina!

  25. Nicole Abboud via FB says:

    So what would the SPF of theses bars be. And will they melt all over while we’re in the sun?

  26. Amanda Paquette via FB says:

    Kristyn Freese

  27. Natasha Borukhova-Botier via FB says:

    Izabella Levi

  28. Always wear a mask when working with zinc oxide.

  29. Kelly Pless via FB says:

    Misty Bruce Bennett Evan Lindsay Tardy Melanie ‘Harman’ KenadyI’m thinking we need to try this

  30. Amber Rose via FB says:

    The ingredients in this recipe should be water resistant but I am still curious if Mommypotamus has used this bar while for a summertime outting at the pool or the beach. Please let us know if it melts in the sun!

  31. Kathleen Van Tiem via FB says:

    Vijay Pendakur

  32. Peggy Wright Crockett via FB says:

    Use caution.

  33. Elizabeth Gosselin Walsh via FB says:

    They definitely do melt in the sun and the SPF is not very high. You need to reapply probably every 20 minutes or so, especially while in the water. I’ll still use this over the crap in the stores full of cancer-causing ingredients!

  34. Rebekah DeGraaf via FB says:

    According to the study, both olive oil and coconut oil are SPF of 8. Why dilute the SPF in the bar of lotion just to make it solid? I think I’ll revise this to make an olive oil/coconut oil body cream — not a bar.

  35. Rebecca Nguyen via FB says:

    Jessica Klonaris

  36. June Cotter via FB says:

    Do you have an alternative to zinc oxide? I am allergic…

  37. Holly says:

    I LOVE your swim top! Where did you get it? I have a long torso (I assume you do, too) and it is hard for me to find swim wear that fits well and is modest.

  38. Jennifer Holdridge Black via FB says:

    Tracie Bartlett

  39. Jenn Higgins Bogedin via FB says:

    Jenn Higgins Bogedin

  40. Amanda says:

    Do you know if the Shea butter can effectively be replaced with cocoa butter?

    • Pam Keller says:

      Cocoa butter would make the bar much harder and it may not rub on very well. To replace the Shea butter, you’d have to use something of comparable texture. You could try eliminating the Shea Butter completely, but you’d have to adjust the other ingredients to get a good firmness to the bar. Adding cocoa butter will firm up the bar, so add more of the soft oils to compensate until you get a useable firmness. Shea Butter has a natural spf, cocoa butter does not.

      • Aly says:

        I wonder how tallow would work? I wonder also about the spf of tallow. Anyone know? I get intense acne from straight up coconut oil on my face but no reaction on the rest of my body. Not sure why that is. The skin on my face seems to be fine with tallow though.

  41. Iris Vineyard via FB says:

    If you add a few drops of carrot seed oil it ups the SPF by 35

  42. Karen Bellows via FB says:

    Pauline ten Velde

  43. How much would 1oz zinc oxide be in tsp?

  44. Amy Landry via FB says:

    I make this too, only I also use olive oil and make it into more of a cream

  45. Theresa says:

    Be aware that when dealing with a physical sunblock like this one you must apply enough to create an effective barrier between you and the sun. To buy a non-nano and completely non-toxic sunscreen visit LiveToxFree.com.

  46. Amber Rose – Yes, it would melt. In the notes I recommend storing it indoors and applying before you go outside.

  47. Nicole Abboud – Yes, the bars will melt if left outside. I recommend storing them indoors and applying before you go outside.

    Regarding SPF: When deciding how much zinc oxide to add, anywhere from 5-20% of the total solution is often used. Though it will vary a little from batch to batch, the bars I made with this recipe are about 12% zinc oxide by weight. I have not tested it in a lab for SPF value.

    • Aly says:

      You could store the sun screen bar in a watertight container in the cooler if you are far from home and using. I would probably do the same with the sun screen lotion to keep it from spoiling.

      • Tammy says:

        That’s what my fiance and I were just saying … my first thought was, make it in a tin and don’t remove it from the tin. Then he said, just store it in our drink cooler.

        I have carrot seed oil … will adding a few drops of it really up the SPF? Because I can totally do that!

        In other products I have made, I find that coconut oil and beeswax do not completely sink in to my skin – especially not my face. Plus, zinc oxide has been used for decades as a sunscreen – think of the lifeguards with white noses and white lines on their upper cheeks. So, conjecturally, I would think that this sunscreen bar has at least some water-resistance.

        • Aly says:

          not sure, I was considering sea buckthorn oil since it does report a natural spf, Maybe adding some rose hip oil and tallow. I find the tallow is like the beezwax in staying on my skin for a longer period of time and water beads up, but have not found out if it has a natural SPF? I wonder if the smell would attract wasps in the later summer? I have had some interesting experiences with bees and wasps attracted to beeswax when it was stored in a cabinet in my studio and I had all the doors and windows open to catch the breeze (I don’t live in buggy parts of the US- Seattle is pretty mellow on everything but bees are encouraged in our garden flowers and wasps are becoming more tolerated since they are pollinators and needed as well. I just have not tried tallow for outdoor use and sure as heck don’t want to waste it if I am going to become wasp bait ;*)

  48. Nikki Pellman – Regarding SPF: When deciding how much zinc oxide to add, anywhere from 5-20% of the total solution is often used. Though it will vary a little from batch to batch, the bars I made with this recipe are about 12% zinc oxide by weight. I have not tested it in a lab for SPF value.

  49. June Cotter – I’m sorry to hear that! Some people use titanium dioxide, but one expert (a cancer researcher named Elizabeth Plourde) says that it photodegrades rapidly and is not a good idea.

  50. Carrie Price Kunkel – Ingredients that are measured by weight can vary in terms of how they come out in teaspoons, so I can’t say for sure.

  51. Anya says:

    I’ve been looking for a good recipe! I usually use just coconut oil but this sounds like a great natural recipe!

  52. Gail Greene via FB says:

    Kathleen Tims

  53. Penny says:

    Would like to know where you got your mold from. Like it ;) Always love your stuff. Thanks Penny

    • Alyssa says:

      I second that, Penny. I too would love a link to get this mold. It would work awesome for mini soaps too. Thanks, Heather. LOVE you for all this great stuff. And I hope all goes as planned with your vacation planning. :)

  54. bre says:

    Do you know anything about using carrot seed oil as sunscreen? It’s supposed to have a SPF of 30 I believe? Thanks

  55. Erin Alexander via FB says:
  56. Aly says:

    I am def going to make this and your sun screen lotion. As I read through both recipes, I was struck by the comment that some essential oils cause photosensitivity. So I did a google to learn more and found a list at this blogger’s site (along with her recipe to compare and consider- ;*) Though I’m a total Potomai fan!
    From the listed essential oils that can cause an issue, the citrus ones and bregamot since some people really like that one, or don’t. It seems to have the intense love-hate spectrum.
    Along with this list for photosensitivity I was wondering if you could also list essential oils that pregnant and nursing moms should avoid?
    Here’s the link in case anyone wants to explore this
    https://yellowstaressentials.wordpress.com/tag/list-of-photosensitive-essential-oils/

  57. I made sunscreen lotion bars similar to this last year (same main ingredients with bug repelling essential oils added, plus a little vitamin E to help preserve the bars), and while they were fantastic at the pool, at the beach sand stuck to our skin like glue! It was IMPOSSIBLE to scrub the stuck-on sand off our skin! I mean, it was awful. Any ideas? Did I do something wrong? Did you have the same experience?

  58. Faye says:

    I have a kid that is unfortunately allergic to coconut. What would you sub for the coconut oil?

    • Amanda @ Mommypotamus Support says:

      Faye, Heather hasn’t tested it, but it might work with sustainably harvested palm oil. She’s not sure how a substitution would compare in terms of natural SPF, though.

  59. Denise says:

    Some of the reviews on the shea butter you linked are not good. In fact they are very bad. Have you used this type?

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  61. Erin says:

    I tried making a batch of these but the zinc oxide just stayed in clumps in the bottom of the bowl and never fully incorporated into the melted oils. Any suggestions or tricks to incorporating it better?

    • Heather says:

      You might try mashing the clumps out before adding it to the mixture (if there are any) and then stirring until the liquid thickens slightly.

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