DIY Sunscreen Recipe

DIY sunscreen with ingredients you may already have on hand!

On the heels of the DIY Sunscreen myths comes this recipe: one I’m willing to test out with my family. I didn’t want to leave you guys hanging and not offer a solution to using natural sunscreens. After doing lots and lots of reading on natural sunscreen options, I’ve come to the point where I’m open to testing out barrier sunscreens: namely zinc oxide.

Turns out, you want non-nano particle, non-coated zinc oxide, and I didn’t have that. But I did have this:
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And I found this really cool DIY Sunscreen recipe posted over on MakeupAlley by a girl from Hawaii. This is supposedly a homemade concoction that the surfers use, and that she’s a big fan of the recipe. Since I have all of the ingredients on hand, I thought I’d give it a go.

You’ll need:

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Diaper rash cream, coconut oil, cocoa butter, aloe vera gel, almond oil, beeswax. I wanted a higher percentage of zinc oxide, so I opted for the 40% zinc oxide cream. (I’ve since learned that I want to avoid cod liver oil or vitamin A in future batches since it’s being linked to skin damage. Plus it smells fishy.)

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I happened to have beeswax pellets and cocoa butter on hand from some other DIY projects.
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Her recipe calls for a bowl with boiling water. I’ll tell you right now that doesn’t work. But I tried it.

Just to be sure. :)
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The recipe is SUPER simple: just add your ingredients into a small bowl or heatproof jar. I opted to use a popsicle stick to stir it up, because zinc is not very easy to clean off of things. I know this because one of my babies put it in their hair. I can’t recommend it as a pommade. <shudder>

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I added the beeswax pellets and cocoa butter last, and stirred it all together.

Smells…diapery.

So I added some lavender oil. My second favorite scent behind tangerine. But you really want to steer clear of citrus oils here, as they can sensitize the skin to the sun and give you burns.
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I love how affordable the NOW oils are, and they’re fully tested to be 100% pure.

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So, there I was, waiting and stirring and adding more hot water…and waiting. See those bubbles? They’re not bubbles. They’re wax pellets. Turns out the whole mixture needs to get pretty darn hot to melt the wax thoroughly.

So next, I tried this: my trusty bottle warmer that I bought just for crafty DIY herb type stuff. But after a couple of hours, I just put the jar in the warm oven. The wax was stubborn. Next time, I’ll use a double boiler on my stove to bring it all to temp quicker. DIY sunscreen with ingredients you may already have on hand!

Once it was all melted, I poured it into little bottles. The recipe makes about a cup of sunscreen. And here’s a good warning: let it cool off a lot before pouring it into your little cheapie squirt bottles.

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Because:

DIY Sunscreen: Myth Busted! What you need to know before trusting a homemade sunscreen recipe.

(Duh Gwen!)

 

And that’s it! DIY Sunscreen is super easy to make!

DIY Sunscreen Tests

I tested it out and the finished product goes on thick, which is what it’s supposed to do for optimal sun protection. It did leave a white cast, but that’s to be expected with barrier sunscreens.

DIY Sunscreen Recipe applying

You can also see how much I’m applying here for one arm, and how it gives a pale glow on the skin after being rubbed in. (Like I need help with a pale glow.)

The rest of the batch went into this bottle, (affiliate link) and it’s by far my favorite container. It’s a silicone, soft body bottle so it’s easier to squeeze out every last drop of your awesome DIY Sunscreen. I found mine in the Target travel section.

I tested it on a sunny day in the afternoon here in the south, between 4 and 5 PM on my own arms, and I could definitely see and feel a difference afterward. One arm was without sunscreen and the other had this. I got a little pink on my un-coated arm, but got no sun on my coated arm.  Can you tell which is which?

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I didn’t want to stay out long enough to burn, but I could tell a difference. IMG_5142

Further tests are needed, but so far, so good!

 

DIY Sunscreen SPF

As far as SPF, this chart suggests that products with 25% zinc oxide offer protection of >20 SPF. We started with a preparation that contained 40% zinc oxide, and roughly doubled the volume, so I’m guessing we’re somewhere around 20% zinc oxide. I’m not making any claims as to final SPF, but this is a range I’m comfortable testing out on myself. Zinc oxide is known to be a broad range (UVA & UVB) sunscreen, so I’m hopeful that this will be a great option for my family on long pool afternoons.

The final lotion is thick, and stays on the skin well, which is what you want from a barrier sunscreen for maximum protection. (Which by the way is why you don’t find spray on natural sunscreens- which is a huge bummer.) It still smells a little bit diaperish. But if it works, I’m willing to deal with the smell.

Grab the printable DIY Sunscreen Recipe below!

To pin or share!

DIY sunscreen with ingredients you may already have on hand!

5.0 from 3 reviews
DIY Sunscreen Recipe
 
This DIY Sunscreen is made with some pretty common household ingredients, and is so simple to put together. I've been impressed with early testing on my own pale self!
Author:
Recipe type: Remedies & Supplements
Ingredients
  • ½ cup Diaper Rash Cream
  • 2 Tablespoons Coconut Oil (refined or organic extra virgin-either one works)
  • 1 Tablespoon Cocoa Butter
  • 1 Tablespoon Aloe Vera Gel
  • 1 Tablespoon Almond Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Beeswax
Instructions
  1. Add all ingredients to a heat proof jar or bowl.
  2. Stir together using a wooden popsicle stick to avoid staining kitchen utensils.
  3. Heat over boiling water in a double boiler or place in an oven on low until wax melts.
  4. You may add natural mineral makeup to the finished mixture and stir in to darken the color if you'd like.
  5. Allow to cool and pour into small containers or squeeze jars. Plastic, silicone, or tin are preferable for pools and beaches, as many have no glass rules.
    To use
    I like to get a little sun and then apply a thick layer of sunscreen on all exposed skin. We use hats and swim shirts to cut down on overexposure to the sun.
    Reapply regularly.
    Since this sunscreen has an oil base, it may stain clothing. Try using WD-40 and then wetting area well with pretreat if staining occurs.
Notes

DIY Sunscreen Resources

(These are affiliate links through my Amazon store)

  • beeswax pellets– a pound is enough for SEVERAL recipes. Possibly several years worth of recipes.
  • 40% Zinc Oxide Cream – This is the Wal-Mart brand, and it does contain cod liver oil, petrolatum, and talc.
  • 40% Zinc Oxide VaniCream– Super clean ingredients, but on the pricey side.
  • Cocoa Butter– I could bathe in this stuff. It’s intoxicating.
  • Lavender Oil– This is the good stuff…you can see how they test it here.

Have you tried a DIY Sunscreen recipe with zinc oxide? How has it worked for your family?

Comments

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  1. Jenn Pranger says

    You Rock!!! I love the pink and white arm. 😀
    I can’t wait to try this. I loved your willingness to share about waiting for the mix to cool before putting it in the little bottles as I’m sure I would do that too. :)

    • says

      Where to buy it, or where it comes from on the plant? I can tell you both: there is a link to the kind I use in the resources at the bottom of the page. Cocoa butter is sourced from the beans: it’s the natural fat that they remove when making cocoa powder. It smells incredible…like white chocolate! Hope that helps. :)

  2. Leslie says

    Love this post! I make my own sunscreen and live on the sunny SC coast. Plus, I have red hair and freckles. Like you, I didn’t really trust using just oils, so I make mine using the non-nano zinc oxide — it’s basically a balm with zinc in it. I used it all last summer and am still going strong. If I stay on the beach very long, I reapply, but usually one application lasts about 1 1/2 to 2 hours, unless I swim a lot. I don’t burn anywhere except those tiny places I miss with the sunscreen. I still use my umbrella and go out in the early morning or late evening, but now I can walk, swim and have fun without covering myself with chemicals. Now if I could just find a way to reach my back!

  3. Dryrock says

    Hi Gwen

    Thanks for the DIY. I tried a sunscreen recipe. I used 2tbsp coconut oil, few drops of lavender oil and 1/2 tbsp zinc oxide non-nano. I am trying this for the first time. I am not sure of the proportions. I did some research and found that zinc oxide should be around 20-25% of the recipe so I used 1/2 tbsp for 2 tbsp of coconut oil.

    What would you suggest for the quantity of zinc oxide in a recipe? an do you have any suggestions for a face powder with spa (zinc oxide) to apply over makeup? thanks

    • says

      Zinc oxide proportion depends on how high of an SPF you’re wanting and the SPF of the other components. It’s a really complex thing to formulate and mix products, and I’m out of my depth outside of just very basic recipes like this. :)

  4. Alyssa says

    I don’t think I saw anything on Red Raspberry seed oil. Have you looked into that? I don’t typically have almond oil on hand so I was thinking to substitute with wheat germ or jojoba. I read that wheat germ oil is great for spy protection and skin.

  5. Jo says

    Has anyone tried buying the non nano zinc oxide from eBay and mix it in with a lotion? No diaper smell then,? And it’s cheap

  6. Tracy says

    I am looking forward to trying this recipe. It seems very well researched. I have a local company (40 minutes away) at sells Zinc Oxiode (they also do internet sales if interested check out Canwax website). I’m going to see if I can modify the recipe to use Zinc with your other ingredient and maybe we can avoid the diaper smell :)

    Thanks for the information!!

  7. says

    FYI, the orange family essential oils are NOT phototoxic (sweet orange, mandarin, tangerine). Lemon, lime (unless you get steam distilled), grapefruit, and bergamot (unless you get FCF- Bergapten-free) are, though they can be used in skin care products if properly diluted.

    Raspberry seed oil has an SPF of ~27 so it could be a good addition to you recipe. I like that you are starting with the zinc diaper cream – no worries about inhaling zinc dust.

      • Becky says

        Hi there! Thanks for this fantastic post!
        Have you or anyone you know used this recipe and substituted the diaper cream with non-nano zinc oxide? I’m curious and would love to make this recipe, just want to use this zinc oxide instead. Help? Thanks in advance!

  8. Katie Cesaro says

    have you used anything like this?

    looked like a good alternative to diaper rash cream but i wasn’t sure!

    • says

      I haven’t, because I’m unclear on whether or not I could get it blended in correctly to offer adequate sun protection. According to some of my reading, it’s not just a matter of stirring it in? So I haven’t tried it.

  9. Shelia says

    Just curious… It’s been two summers… How are you liking this recipe? Are you still using it? Have you changed anything or would you change anything? Love the post and I like that you are putting a bit of science behind it!

  10. Aleasha says

    Could you do this without the diaper cream and just use all the same ingredients and just add zinc to it? Wondering if theres a way to avoid the diaper cream. Thanks.

  11. VE says

    I’m allergic to coconut. Do you think there’s a way to do this without the coconut oil? Or a way to substitute?

  12. Nicole Tozier says

    How do you think it would do to replace the cocoa butter with shea? That’s what I have on hand!