Sunday, January 19, 2014


Most sunscreens contain toxic ingredients or endocrine disrupting chemicals that in many cases may actually promote skin cancer growth and free radical production in the body. In fact, in the years since sunscreen use began, skin cancer rates have actually risen, and a 2007 document from the FDA stated that: “The FDA is not aware of data demonstrating that sunscreen use alone helps prevent skin cancer” In fact, many reports show that most sunscreens actually raise skin cancer risk.

Even natural, commercially available sunscreens often have toxic ingredients! 

Considering many people these days are actually Vitamin D deficient, I consider lack of sun exposure to be a much bigger problem than too much exposure. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to many types of cancers including the most deadly types of breast cancer. Lack of Vitamin D has also been linked to problems during pregnancy including pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, premature labor, and more.

As a society, we’ve literally cut off our nose to spite our face when it comes to sun exposure. To avoid skin cancer, which is not a particularly deadly cancer, especially if caught early, we’ve shunned the sun and the Vitamin D our bodies produce with sun exposure.

On top of that, sun exposure itself is not conclusively linked to skin cancer, and many other factors, such as Omega-6 Vegetable Oil consumption can have a big impact on skin health!

In most cases, my approach to sun exposure is to get adequate daily exposure, without getting close to the point of burning. Since most of us don’t work outside these days, it actually takes effort to get daily sun, rather than to avoid it.

In the event that I’m going to be out in the sun for much longer than my skin is used to, it is often easy enough to just put on a hat or shirt to shield my skin.

If none of these options are available, for instance, on a day at the beach in early summer before I’ve been in the sun much, I will very occasionally use natural sunscreen. I’m yet to use it this year, and hope not to at all, but I wanted to share my recipe so that if you are in the sun for extended periods of time this summer, you have a natural option.

This would also be a more natural alternative for really young children, those taking medication that increases sun burn risk, or those who burn very easily.

Just to clarify, even though this natural sunscreen smells great and is naturally moisturizing, I don’t recommend using it daily since the Vitamin D you get from the sun will be more beneficial in the long run!

So ditch those store-bought sunscreens and try your hand at making your own natural sunscreen in your very own kitchen!

NOTE: This is an improved recipe since many people were having trouble getting the temperatures exactly right to get the lotion to emulsify (as per the comments below). This recipe will not have any of those issues!

Natural Homemade Sunscreen Ingredients:

1/2 cup almond or olive oil (can infuse with herbs first if desired)
1/4 cup coconut oil (natural SPF 4)
1/4 cup beeswax
2 Tablespoons Zinc Oxide (This is a non-nano version that won’t be absorbed into the skin. Be careful not to inhale the powder). This makes a natural SPF of 20+ or more can be added.)
Optional: 1 teaspoon Vitamin E oil
Optional: 2 tablespoons Shea Butter (natural SPF 4-5)
Optional: Essential Oils, Vanilla Extract or other natural extracts to suit your preference

How to Make Natural Sunscreen:

Combine ingredients except zinc oxide in a pint sized or larger glass jar. I have a mason jar that I keep just for making lotions and lotion bars, or you can even reuse a glass jar from pickles, olives, or other foods. Fill a medium saucepan with a couple inches of water and place over medium heat. Put a lid on the jar loosely and place in the pan with the water.

As the water heats, the ingredients in the jar will start to melt. Shake or stir occasionally to incorporate. When all ingredients are completely melted, add the zinc oxide, stir in well and pour into whatever jar or tin you will use for storage. Small mason jars (pint size) are great for this. It will not pump well in a lotion pump!
Stir a few times as it cools to make sure zinc oxide is incorporated.

Use as you would regular sunscreen. Best if used within six months.

Additional Notes:
This sunscreen is somewhat, but not completely, waterproof and will need to be reapplied after sweating or swimming. Make sure not to inhale the Zinc Oxide- use a mask if necessary!

This recipe has an SPF of about 20, though adding more Zinc Oxide will increase the SPF. Add more beeswax to make thicker sunscreen, less to make smooth sunscreen. I recommend coconut or vanilla extract or lavender essential oils for fragrance. Store in a cool, dry place or in the fridge.

The following is another customizable homemade sunscreen recipe which uses oils (each with their own natural SPF properties), beeswax (for waterproofness), butters (for creaminess), and essential oils (for a scent-u-ous experience). If you want extra protection, add a non-nano zinc oxide powder which lends its SPF of 20+.

3/4 cup oil: Use any blend of the following: raspberry seed oil (natural SPF 30-50), carrot seed oil (natural SPF 30), wheat germ oil (natural SPF 20), or sesame, coconut, hemp, soy, peanut, or avocado oil (all of which have a natural SPF of 4-10)
1/4 cup beeswax
2 tablespoons butter: Use any combination of shea butter (natural SPF 30), mango butter, or cocoa butter
1 teaspoon vitamin E oil: Optional for its antioxidant properties
20-30 drops essential oil: Choose your favourite scent
2 tablespoons non-nano zinc oxide powder: 

This will give you SPF 20; add more if you want higher protection levels. Be careful not to inhale it.

To make your all-natural sunscreen, combine the first three ingredients in a glass jar, and melt together in a double-boiler style in a pot of water on the stove. Over medium heat with a lid on the jar, wait until everything has melted, then give the mixture a shake. Add the zinc oxide (if using), vitamin E oil, and essential oils and stir well. Pour into your chosen storage containers (small mason jars or recycled deodorant dispensers make good options) and let cool, stirring now and then to ensure the zinc oxide doesn't sink to the bottom. Use as you would regular sunscreen. Shelf life: 6 months.

An Even Faster Way To Make Sunscreen:

Get a bottle of your favorite lotion (that doesn't contain citrus oils!)
Add a couple Tablespoons of Zinc Oxide
Mix well
Use as Sunscreen

A word of caution, however. Experts in skin cancer have pointed out that the science behind proportions of ingredients in today’s traditional sunscreens is fairly exacting in order to achieve the desired protection. Making your own natural sunscreen at home that ensures blockage of UV rays to verifiable SPF levels can be nigh unto impossible, which may leave you vulnerable to the sun’s damaging effects. If you want to avoid this hazard as well as the hazards of traditional sunscreen, your best bet is to cover up and stand in the shade!

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