Homemade Sunscreen: A Failure Then a Success

I knew that most store brands of sunscreen contained harsh chemicals that are bad for the skin, but I didn’t know why so I decided it was time to put my detective hat on and investigate. Below are a list of chemicals to avoid when looking for sunscreen:

  • Octyl methoxycinnamate
  • Octocrylene
  • Benzophenone-3, which is also known as oxybenzon

What are these, besides difficult to pronounce? They can all boost the number of free radicals which can, over time, be broken down and absorbed in your skin.

Why should you care? Free radicals are not free. They cause damage to healthy cells in the body. They can be released when we get too much sun, causing a painful sunburn. However, they can also be absorbed through the skin by using sunscreen laced with the chemicals above, potentially leading to all sorts of nasty problems. Rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some types of cancer to name a few. Yikes.

For more info see the link below.
Sunscreen Health Risks

So, when deciding which sunscreen to use, you have to weigh the risk of getting exposed to free radicals from the sun versus the risk of getting exposed to free radicals from your sunscreen. It’s too bad there is not an alternative to this conundrum.

Ah, but there is! Make your own!

I found all sorts of recipes on Pinterest so I combined the best from each and made my own recipe.


  • 1/4 cup virgin coconut oil – Moisturizer and has a natural SPF (about 4).
  • 1/2 cup Shea butter – Natural sun protection and moisturizer.
  • 1/4 cup Cocoa butter – An antioxidant and protection from free radicals.
  • 2 TBsp zinc powder – This is a sunblock that protects the skin from harmful UVA/UVB rays. (Has to be the pure stuff and not the stuff you find with the sunscreens at drug stores. More on that in a minute.)
  • 3 TBsp aloe vera (You can substitute olive oil or grapeseed oil.)
  • ½ cup filtered water
  • 2-4 capsules of Vitamin E Oil – This acts as a preservative and protects skin from UV rays.
  • 1/2 oz. Beeswax granules (I found this in the bulk bins at Natural Grocery Store, but they are on Amazon for MUCH cheaper.)
  • Essential oil for scent (Optional, I used lavender as it is good for your skin and smells great.)

So it’s a long list and in the end it is really not cheaper than store bought but in this case, I would rather have healthy skin than save a few pennies. Plus, you don’t have to use as much.

If you are skeptical as to whether or not this “natural stuff” works, see the links below based on a year of experience with her homemade sunscreen.
Mineral Based Sunblock: Does it Work?
Update on Natural Sunscreen

The first time I made this, I made it with the zinc oxide cream I found at Wal-Mart with all the other sunscreens. I used it on myself on a trip to the zoo and did not get burnt so I thought, “Yes! It works!” So…my husband and I used it on a bike trip up to Michigan.

I only rode on the bike for a couple of hours…he rode the entire way, slathering the homemade stuff on his skin at each stop and getting more and more burnt. By the time we got to Michigan, he looked like a lobster. I felt really bad because I thought that it worked since I did not get burnt at the zoo…I didn’t take into account all the shade we were in at the zoo.

That is why it has to be the pure zinc and not the little jar containing only 9.1% zinc oxide. The rest of the ingredients are octocrylene and oxybenzone – the bad stuff detailed above.


Combine oils, butters and beeswax in glass bowl. You can use a double boiler to heat, but I used a pot with a washcloth at the bottom so the glass did not break. Heat and stir until the oils are melted and combined.

Remove from heat and stir in the rest of the ingredients. Mix with a hand mixer until fully combined, then pour in a glass jar.

I added the zinc powder after the fact and am happy to report after a few trials…it works. It REALLY works!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s