28 Aug Homemade Natural Sun Cream
A mid-winter escape to summer in Canada via Hawaii has caused me to pull out my natural suncream recipe.
I have a love and hate relationship with the sun! I love the sun, and I love summer and I love being outdoors… But a few too many hours outside and I hate that glowing ball in the sky. Getting burnt is the worst feeling in the world.
When you focus on living a natural life, one without chemicals and toxins, you start to question the ingredients in all the things you rub on your skin.
The other side of it is,I don’t want all the plastic packaging. I have been aiming to live with less single use plastics (disposables that we use for a short time, but that survive a lifetime in landfill). So in making my own, I can avoid the ongoing plastic tubes and store mine in reusable glass jars. Plus buying the supplies in bulk means a lot less packaging overall.
The research on suncreams out there is plentiful and and after lots of research, I felt a bit like I wanted to pull my hair out.
There is some scary information on sun creams and I have a brief recap what I researched below, and then there is my DIY sun cream recipe.
There are two types of suncreams:
Chemical Blocking suncreams absorb the suns UVA and UVB rays so that they don’t absorb into your skin.
The chemicals in your average suncream are pretty intense, a couple they can include are:
Endocrine disruptors, that mimic estrogen and then mess with your body’s natural hormones. ( Sarah Wilson has a great blog covering all about the toxicity of suncream here).
Vitamin A ( aka – retinyl palmitate) is another common chemical that when in the sun can speed the development of skin lesions and tumors (night creams I guess are a different story).
Everything I have read about your standard suncream that uses chemical blockers all sounds pretty harsh.
What we think may be protecting us from skin cancer, may be doing another form of damage to our bodies.
Physical blocking suncreams actually stop rays from reaching your skin by blocking them out (without absorbing them). Zinc Oxide and Titanium Oxide are the widely used ones. * Note* Zinc Oxide seems to be the better of the two as it blocks both UVA and UVB rays.
These physical blockers are not without some controversy. As you may know heavy zinc doesn’t spread on easily (think thick sludge). Heavy Zinc is fine for a white stripe on your face but not for your whole body. Commercial brands have now started using micronized and nano-particle zinc in suncreams to make them more spreadable. The concern is that the small particles are small enough to be absorbed into your skin, and one article stated that when in sunlight and absorbed into the skin Zinc Oxide can form free radicals…not good.
Okay so how do we win here? Well a floppy hat and a long sleeved shirt seems to be the first way to go. Good old shade!
But there are times where you’re going to be in the sun and can’t avoid it.
Many natural suncreams still have fragrances, and other preservatives and chemicals that even though are claimed to be natural are no good to be rubbing on your largest organ…your skin!
If you want to learn more about various brands check out this American site, not all Aussie brands will be on it, but it’s worth checking, lots of good information too – EWG Suncreen Guide.
I have come across many online recipes for homemade sunscreen, so I started using one last summer and have tweaked it to get what I am really happy with. I have also just spent the last couple weeks in sunny Hawaii – surfing and being on the beach for 6-7 hours a day. The sunscreen has been great and protected my skin perfectly… no burns 🙂
I use Zinc Oxide ( but a standard powder – nothing nano) and shea butter which has it’s own SPF and Coconut oil which also has a low SPF as well.
This is the recipe:
1/2 cup coconut oil
1 Tablespoon shea butter
1/4 cup almond oil
coconut essential oil ( for that banana boat tropics smell)
2 tablespoons of Zinc Oxide Powder
1 tsp Vitamin E oil
Melt the coconut and shea butter in a double boiler add your other oils and mix in the zinc ( be careful not to inhale the zinc powder). I experimented with the Zinc amount, and for this amount of cream, 2 tablespoons worked well. It will be quite liquid in the heat, but I keep mine in the fridge and apply when it’s cooler and more solid. Otherwise you can experiment by adding some melted beeswax to help it solidify. When using it rub it in really well and apply again after swimming ( I did surf for 3 hours one day with one application!)
Another point… remember getting some sun actually has mega benefits for your health in the form of Vitamin D. Here is a recommendation I found: Get sun every day, but only for 20-40 minutes at a time and, if you’re in Australia, before 10am and after 5pm.
At least being informed about suncreams toxicity means you can make better choices for your skin, and overall health and sourcing the ingredients in bulk, locally and in non-plastic packaging are all wins for our planet.
Please note: This is what has worked for me, I have olive skin but have been burnt before in the Australian Sun. I recommend a small trial of the sunscream to see how it works for your skin type first.
Let me know what you think or if you have a different recipe!