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How To Make Non-Toxic Homemade Sunscreen

Affiliate Disclosure | in Natural Remedies | by | with 167 Comments

How To Make Non-Toxic Sunscreeen

Chemical Sunscreens Can Be Really Scary . . .

Most of the active chemical ingredients contain potent endocrine disruptors, and experts believe exposure to them is changing us for the worse. And as we talked about yesterday, many “healthy” mineral sunscreens contain nanoparticles which have been linked to accelerated skin aging, cancer and environmental toxicity. Not to mention that many of them use omega-6 rich oils such as soy and sunflower/safflower, which may disturb the healthy balance of fats most likely to resist oxidation.

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.

Based on all the scary stuff I just mentioned you may be asking if there are ANY sunscreens I’d recommend. Thanks to this sunscreen review by Katie over at Kitchen Stewardship, the answer is yes. Most days I skip the sunscreen and let antioxidants do the work, but for long days at the beach Green Screen is something I would be comfortable using on my family. It’s not perfect – it contains a small amount of soy – but it’s very good overall.

(Where to buy my top sunscreen pick)

Loving Naturals also has a pretty good one. They actually list the micron size of their zinc oxide – it’s within range of normal particles so I’m guessing it’s not micronized. The only thing I’d change is switch out the omega-6 rich sunflower oil for something else. Not a huge deal to me, though. And yay! They have a baby version, too!

Where to buy my #2 sunscreen pick

What’s The Difference Between Nano-sized and Micronized?

Good question! Micronization is a grinding process, not a size. It can be used to make nanomaterials (100 nanometers or smaller, usually around 10-50), or something smaller than nanosize but larger than the non-micronized “bulk” form that has been shown to be non-toxic (200-500 nanometers).

From what I understand, micronization appears to create at least some nanoparticles through it’s process even when the targeted size is larger . . . kind of like leftover sawdust. So even if it is “non-nano” micronized there is still a possibility it contains nanomaterial. Bulk forms that have not been subjected to micronization do not carry that risk. This may not be a factor at all (reports are conflicting), but for now I’m staying away from them.

Now, Before We Get Started . . .

There are a couple more things I should mention. First, the reason micronized and nanosized particles are so popular is that they rub in clear. The recipe I’m sharing might make you look a bit pasty, but if you want you can tint it with mineral powder (details with the recipe).

Also, titanium dioxide photodegrades pretty quickly and there’s evidence that it may become toxic in the process, so I prefer to use zinc oxide. Unfortunately, both zinc and titanium can leave white marks on dark clothes, so be careful when applying.

Last thing:  This formula works immediately, so there’s no need to wait to go outside. However, it is not waterproof, so reapply after swimming. Now, are you ready to make some homemade sunscreen?

Simple Homemade Sunscreen Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2-7 tablespoons uncoated, non-nano zinc. Amount will vary based on the level of coverage you want (Find it here)
  • Iron oxides or cocoa powder for tint (optional) – find pre-blended iron oxide here, find cocoa powder here

Special Equipment:

  • mask (Nanoparticles should not be breathed because of lung damage but I couldn’t find a definitive answer on zinc. I just covered my face with my t-shirt. Okay, I didn’t really, but maybe you should :))

Method:

  1. If you’re using my homemade recipe (which is 9 0z. weighed), add the zinc oxide right after you make the lotion. See below for details on how much to add.
  2. If you’re using a pre-made lotion, warm it in a water bath and then add/blend in the zinc oxide in a food processor.
  3. Add essential oils and tint as desired.
  4. How you store depends on the composition of the lotion you used. If it’s premade it probably contains preservatives, so room temp is fine. If it’s coconut oil it will last at room temp for quite awhile, but longer if stored in the fridge. Olive oil tends to go bad quicker than coconut oil, so I’d probably store that in the fridge from day 1. I’m not sure about avocado oil, but I’m thinking fridge. I’ll bet it hardens when it gets cold like coconut oil, though, so you’d want to let it warm up before use).

Deciding How Much Zinc Oxide To Add

Anywhere from 5-20% of the total solution is generally considered to be effective, with 20% having  a higher level of protection. You may find the information below helpful in determining your measurements. I have not tested these ratios in a lab for SPF value.

If you’re looking for moderate protection, measure the lotion you are going to use and then add 10% of it’s weight in zinc oxide.

For example, 8oz. (weighed) of lotion + .8oz of zinc oxide (weighed) = 10% zinc ratio

Or 8 oz (weighed) of lotion + 1.2 oz zinc oxide (weighed) = 15 % zinc ratio

Note: 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%.

Resources:

AOL News: Study Says Many Sunscreens May Be Accelerating Cancer

Photo credit: thenextadventure and earthly delights

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167 Responses to How To Make Non-Toxic Homemade Sunscreen

  1. 16 Homemade Sunscreen Recipes says:

    […] How To Make Non-Toxic Sunscreen – It’s really simple to make your own non-toxic sunscreen at home and with this fantastic tutorial, you’ll see just how easy it is! […]

  2. Innnnn Suuuuuuuuummmmer! | Meatball and Noodle Presents: Small Fry Stuff says:

    […] you desire.  Here is her blog.  Everything I would tell you, she discusses, so pay attention.  HOMEMADE NON TOXIC SUNSCREEN. For purchase of non-micronized, non-nano zinc Oxide, I bought from Organic Creations.  Remember […]

  3. Aurora says:

    HELP! Can someone please tell me in teaspoons or tablespoons how much zinc to use?? I’m totally confused by the percents! I want an SPF of 20 and I used the lotion base that you had in the video linked to this. You said it made about 9oz. Thanks in advance!

  4. Lynn says:

    Is there a way to make this without a kitchen scale? Do you know how much zinc oxide you would use (1/4 cup, etc??)
    Thanks for the recipe!!

  5. Kim Baker via FB says:

    I don’t know the whole story, but my first generation Greek friends said they use EVOO . That’s it, just EVOO

  6. Crystal Chandler Joplin via FB says:

    That looks complicated, I have to admit! I use mexitan SPF 30 when we are going to be out for long periods in the heat of the day. Its worth the price because it’s not chemical sunscreen and it lasts because we don’t use much!

  7. Marie Parker via FB says:

    Coconut and carrot oil combo really does work too! Went to Mexico with husband last year and I used that mixture and just got a little sun, while he used a strong regular sunscreen and burnt.

  8. Homemade Sunscreen Lotion Bars | The MommypotamusThe Mommypotamus | says:

    […] getaway spot sometime this summer, but we may not have much 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 – […]

  9. Georgia Bryan Neefe via FB says:

    Jennifer- Thank you for sharing that. I have to extra cautious since I have three pale skinned, strawberry blonde babies.

  10. Homemade Sunscreen - Water Resistant & Super Easy to Make - Holistic SquidHolistic Squid says:

    […] in with my friend Heather over at Mommypotatmus.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 […]

  11. Erik says:

    Great article,
    For people who may not want to buy all the ingredients and make the effort, we make a sunscreen that has just 6 ingredients and is made with non-nano zinc oxide, which is indeed the safest, most effective and only sunscreen active ingredient approved for use on children and babies. It also is fortified with vitamin D3 to supplement the reduction in vitamin D that occurs with sunscreen use.
    http://kabanaskincare.com/products/green-screen-d-organic-sunscreen-spf-35/

  12. May 2014 — Recap | Kelly's Revival says:

    […] thinking about making my own sunscreen for summer!  My inspiration is from the Mommypotamus and Holistic Squid recipes and I’ll add some Myrrh essential oil to boost sunburn […]

  13. How to Make Non-Toxic Homemade Sunscreen | All Natural Home and Beauty says:

    […] I don’t have to worry about sunburns or toxins. So if you really are like me then try out this awesome non-toxic homemade sunscreen. You’ll love […]

  14. Frances says:

    Hello :) What do you think of the Honest Company’s sunscreen products? Are they (or their ingredients) really safe and non-toxic?

    https://www.honest.com/bath-and-body/sunscreen-spf-30
    https://www.honest.com/bath-and-body/sunscreen-spray

  15. Irina says:

    Hi, I noticed you first posted this in 2012, I was wondering if you continued using your homemade sunscreen over the years and how did it work out for you? I kinda jumped the gun on this one and just ordered all the ingredients, and only now doing the research… I’ve read too many people saying it’s not safe and SPF needs to be tested in a lab. Any idea what lab would test homemade sunscreen?? Also read about zinc oxide containing lead, now kinda freaking out about about that even though I ordered non nano, can it still have traces of lead? Lol sorry to bombard you with questions, I just don’t want to put my loved ones in danger because of my DIY project. Thanks in advance!

    • Heather says:

      Hi Irina, we have used it on the rare occasion we are out in the sun for an extended period of time. We haven’t experienced burns on those occasions. Since I am just a mom sharing recipes that I use in my house I can’t really theorize more on that subject.

      Regarding lead, I recently read and article from Chris Kresser that fears about mercury in fish were usually unfounded, because although fish does sometimes contain mercury it almost always contains selenium as well. Selenium binds with mercury and flushes it out of the body according to Kresser. On a hunch, I did some looking and found that selenium also binds with lead, so that might be something worth looking into as you research. Here’s Kresser’s article if you want to take a look: http://chriskresser.com/is-eating-fish-safe-a-lot-safer-than-not-eating-fish

  16. Debbie says:

    I am unsure about where to purchase the non-nano zinc oxide. In the meantime, I read that you can use just shea butter, coconut oil and red raspberry seed oil for moderate exposure. Does anyone know how I can make this w/o the zinc oxide? Thanks!

    • Chris says:

      Zinc Oxide is available online from many retailers. Unless it is specifically listed as “nano” then it is not nano. Furthermore, Titanium Dioxide is just as safe to use as Zinc. Zinc can photo-catalyze oxidation of hydrocarbons just like Titanium. Both are perfectly safe as the conditions for this to happen on a scale which would actually cause harm do not exist at the beach. Zinc Oxide is probably more readily available.

      • Heather says:

        Hi Chris, in my experience some zinc oxide is nano even if it is not labeled that way. I prefer to look for non-nano, uncoated zinc. I do not think zinc and titanium degrade in the same way based on what I’ve read, but I encourage everyone to look into it and decide what they think.

  17. Are you Ready for Summer? | Everything Beautiful | For Today's Modern Woman says:

    […] http://www.mommypotamus.com/how-to-make-non-toxic-homemade-sunscreen/ […]

  18. Kristen B. says:

    Hi Heather,
    This is a great recipe! We’re excited to try to make our own sunscreen for the holiday weekend, but instead of the lotion recipe, I was wondering if you knew if I could add the zinc oxide to the Tallow Balm (from your DIY book) intend of the lotion recipe? Thanks!

  19. 14 Homemade Sunscreen Recipes | ecoliberty says:

    […] How To Make Non-Toxic Sunscreen – Another fantastic natural sunscreen recipe that delivers the good stuff to your skin and shuns the harsh rays to keep you safe. […]

  20. What to Look For In Non-Toxic Sunscreen | Modern Alternative MamaModern Alternative Mama says:

    […] How to Make Non-Toxic Homemade Sunscreen by Mommypotamus […]

  21. Hot Summer in July: DIY, Why Not Wednesday – Non-Toxic Homemade Sunscreen | Jordan K Winn & Co says:

    […] out poolside, and patio fun! The recipe for Non-toxic, homemade sunscreen comes directly from The Mommypatomus Blog.  In the full article, Heather discusses the active ingredients in most sunscreens, her picks for […]

  22. Why we're skipping the sunscreen this summer, and what we're doing instead... says:

    […] for Homemade Sunscreen Lotion Bars from Heather at Mommypotamus ~ Another great and relatively easy Homemade Sunscreen recipe from […]

  23. Sonia says:

    I recently made a batch of this and scented it with peppermint and lavender. It has since turned from an off white to a fairly bright yellow. I am assuming this is because the essential oils have reacted with the sunlight. Is this correct? Will the sunscreen still be effective?

  24. Valerie says:

    Thank you so much for providing this recipe!! I have been buying the most natural kinds of sunscreen that I can find, and they do indeed leave that white film from the zinc oxide. I hadn’t even thought to try making my own and tinting it. I was also wondering about the nanoparticle/micronization issue, so you definitely cleared that up for me. Great work! I look forward to learning more from you.

  25. Erin says:

    Are you able to get all the beeswax residue out of your food processor? I have the same one but hesitant to use it because even in using my glass measuring cups I have a residue left from lotion making and sunscreen making that I can’t use them for cooking too.

    I have made a similar sunscreen with all the same products and I’m still getting burned. Any tips.

  26. Margie says:

    You mentioned using avocado oil, yes it would need to be refrigerated from day one. I use it to cook with, and the bottle clearly says to refrigerate after opening. It does not harden like coconut oil does however.

  27. sandy says:

    Will this sunscreen work as tanning lotion I am wheatish colour and do not want to become darker. Please help

  28. Rachel says:

    Hi Heather!

    Thank you for this post. I really appreciate all the important information about sunscreen safety and avoiding endocrine disrupting chemicals and nanoparticles. Also, what an awesome recipe for homemade non-toxic sunscreen! I had never heard of Loving Naturals sunscreen, and I’m always grateful to find companies that care and make truly safe products! I personally use Ava Anderson Non-Toxic sunscreen. Have you ever heard of them? The sunscreen is the safest I’ve ever found (& at the lowest price – $15.95 for 2.9 oz) Active ingredients: zinc oxide (23%, non-nanoparticle). Inactive: beeswax (organic), theobroma cacao seed butter (organic cocoa butter), butyrospermum parkii (organic shea butter), olea europaea oil (organic olive oil), simmondsia chinensis (organic jojoba oil).

  29. Tami O'Brien says:

    Approximately, how much cocoa powder?

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