DIY sunscreen recipes are being shared all over Pinterest these days, but as a majorly pale Mama with four pale kiddos, I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t taking any chances with our skin or our long term health. Which is really a tough subject, because ALL of the sunscreen options in our local stores use a chemical screening agent. (With the exception of the zinc nose sticks.)
[bctt tweet=”One thing that bothered me about DIY sunscreen recipes was a lack of evidence to show SPF factor.”] SO I did a little digging around and discovered that there are a LOT of DIY sunscreen recipes out there that need myth busting.
So before you slather on a homemade solution, read through these common myths that I uncovered in my research:
DIY Sunscreen Myth 1: Essential Oil SPF
There are several DIY sunscreen recipes out there calling for carrot seed essential oil. They often point out things like, “according to a study published in Pharmacognosy Magazine in 2009, products containing carrot seed oil have a natural SPF of between 38 and 40.”
SO let me start off by just debunking this myth: Carrot Seed Oil *may* have a decent SPF value. I’ve still not been able to find a published study to confirm this, and you’ll see below why the 2009 study doesn’t even come near to making that claim. (If you DO have access to a carrot seed oil study, please link it in the comments!)
However, let’s just clarify that Carrot Seed Oil is not the same thing as Carrot Seed Essential Oil. According to Robert Tisserand, who literally wrote the book on essential oils:
The essential oil is useless as a sunscreen…The fatty oil has some effect, and both fatty oil and essential oil are called “carrot seed oil” – hence the confusion.
The essential oil is steam distilled- it’s a volatile oil, with completely different properties than the thick viscous fatty seed oil. This study done on the SPF of individual natural oils doesn’t specifically test carrot seed oil or essential oil, but it concludes that of the natural oils and essential (volatile) oils that it does test
It can be observed that the SPF values found for nonvolatile oils were in between 2 and 8; and for volatile oils, in between 1 and 7.
I know that many of the essential oil bloggers get VERY excited to share practical uses of their products, but it’s always a great idea to REALLY research and consult with experts when skin damage is on the line…especially my baby’s skin.
DIY Sunscreen Myth 2: Coconut Oil!
I’ve been reading about the miraculous power of coconut oil as a sunscreen a LOT lately. I even polled my awesome Herbal Chick Chat group over on Facebook. Many Mamas have tested out coconut oil as a way of preventing sunburn. Some had great results, others didn’t. Turns out there is no easily to point to factor here: some of the successes used the cheap refined coconut oil and tested in areas of intense sun. Others had used a high quality oil and burned in weaker northern exposure summers.
The thing is with coconut oil, it’s only got an SPF of around 7. That’s just NOT enough protection for this pale gal and my family. And the only real results that the Mamas in my informal survey can pinpoint is whether or not they burned.
While burning *does* indicate skin damage, the non-burning UVB rays that can also cause serious long term damage to skin. So burning vs. tanning isn’t even the most reliable factor in keeping your skin healthy. (If you’re a child of the 80’s, you probably know some nicely tanned folks with skin that clearly has damage and premature aging.)
This video has inspired me to pay more attention to my own skin exposure beyond just preventing burns. So relying on coconut oil is out for my family.
DIY Sunscreen Myth 3: SPF is Cumulative
[bctt tweet=”Turns out that, just like with baking, there’s a lot of chemistry involved with producing sunscreen.”] Sometimes ingredients can enhance SPF protection, and sometimes they can counteract it. This is why, according to Badger Balm, the FDA requires that each finished formulation of sunscreen undergoes SPF testing in order to claim a UV rating. It’s not as simple as adding up all of the SPF of the ingredients to a total SPF factor.
Sadly, unlike my brownie recipe, you can’t just add up all of the SPF values like calories for a grand total, like many of the DIY sunscreen recipes you find online. It just doesn’t work that way.
Here’s a much more scientific way of stating it from another study of SPF values of natural oils:
To develop sunscreens with better safety and high SPF, the formulator must understand the physicochemical principle, not only the UV absorbance of the actives but also vehicle components, such as esters, emollients, emulsifiers and fragrances used in the formulation, since sunscreens can interact with other components of the vehicle, and these interactions can affect the efficacy of sunscreens.
THe big myth with the study that mentions carrot seed oil is that it is being used to erroneously attribute an SPF value to one individual ingredient.
DIY Sunscreen Myth 4: Studies Show…
So the whole phrase, “products containing carrot seed oil have an SPF of 38-40” sounded a little off to me. Maybe because it’s like saying, “recipes containing chocolate chips contain a calorie range of ….” Wouldn’t that depend a great deal on the other ingredients in the product? Turns out, YES. It does.
So I started doing some sleuthing.
Here is the actual study done on the natural sunscreens…one of which contains carrot seed oil. The study took place in India, and focused on a variety of natural sunscreen products that they don’t name. They disclose a few of the herbal/natural ingredients from each formulation. The formula that most of the bloggers are referencing is identified only as HS3 [table 1], and it contains Carrot Seed Oil (aka daucus carota), Symplocos, and Wheat Germ. Remember those three…I’ll reference them again in just a minute.
So here’s my problem: the stated purpose of the study is NOT to prove the spf values of individual herbal ingredients, but to discern if there is an accurate way to gauge SPF and effectiveness on natural products with a mix of ingredients. The conclusion to this study states,
The present study is a building step towards the development of quality control methods for herbal products.
Remember what we just covered in myth 3…that the individual components can’t always give you an accurate SPF value? It’s clearly NOT establishing SPF values for individual components, since it’s testing multiple ingredient formulas…and only disclosing a few of the ingredients for each formula. More on THAT little oversight below…
Turns out, the product they tested is more than likely this one: Bio Carrot SPF 40 Sunscreen
Here are the ingredients: Parijat (Nyctanthes arbortristis), Lodhra (Symplocos racemosa), Gajar (Daucus carota), Yashad bhasm Zind ash with herbs, Singjerahata (Talc), Cream Base Q.S. This review also pictures the back of the bottle, which lists additional ingredients including Ankurit (triticum vulgare) [wheat germ], sunflower oil, and other ingredients not listed on the website.
Remember the ingredients listed from HS3 above: Daucus Carot (Carrot seed oil), Wheat Germ, and Symplocos. Here’s a product with all 3 of the HS3 ingredients labeled for SPF 40. Pretty strong circumstantial evidence.
Because this is an Ayurvedic preparation, many of the ingredients are hard to pinpoint. But I did a little sleuthing. I wondered if other ingredients were contributing to the SPF rating as well. Turns out: YES!
Yashad bhasm is also a featured ingredient in diaper rash cream…are you suspicious yet?And what is zinc calc, I wondered?
Yashad bhasm is also a featured ingredient in diaper rash cream…it’s a zinc preparation: it’s what we call zinc oxide. B.I.N.G.O.
So there is no way that the study is definitively attributing an SPF to even cold pressed (non essential) carrot seed oil, because the formula contains an already known effective (and yay…natural!) physical sunblock, along with many other ingredients that may or may not factor into the total SPF rating.
I rest my case.
Pin to save or share! And read on to see what I am going to use this summer for my family…
What I Use: Natural Sunscreen
Now lest you think that I’m PRO chemical sunblock, I’m really not. I’m still trying to find my happy place with natural sunscreens. I rely heavily on swim shirts, shade, and my big floppy hat to prevent over exposing our skin to the sun. Although I am all for a little healthy play time before applying sunscreen to encourage vitamin D.
Last year, we used and really liked Babyganics Pure Mineral-Based Sunscreen, SPF 30 (affiliate link). The price is very fair: I paid right around $20 for 3 tubes on Amazon. it’s got a good rating on the Environmental Working Group website, and we found that it works well.
I’m planning to try the Badger line of natural sunscreens (affiliate link) this summer.
I’m currently testing out a DIY sunscreen recipe.
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Thanks Gwen! I have made my own, and have been considering selling it with my other products at the farmers market. But I am not comfortable without knowing the specific SPF. I use non-nano zinc oxide. Is there something I don’t know about this ingredient?
Gwen Brown says
Sarah, non-nano zinc is an awesome barrier sunscreen if applied correctly. 🙂
I made my own sun block using a basic recipe and modifying it. I have vitiligo, over 99% of my body has NO pigmentation hence no natural protection from the sun. I used my sun block for 2 years with absolutely no problems. It worked perfectly. I did sun exposure in moderation, as I always do. So I would say I’m living proof homemade sun block does work.
Star Light says
YES!!!! As the maker you need to know that mixed with water or oil it is nontoxic, but dry it can hurt your lungs…or your kids or cats!! I go outside, keep the kids and animals away, and wash everything with a hose before I met them out there. I keep my containers that are open in three layers of plastic bags to avoid the dry exposue in the house.!!! Be careful!!! Use a mask and wash it down and then put it in laundry.
I’d be carefully about selling it. Unless you have professional way of blending the ingredients (other than a double boiler & a mixer/blender), the zinc oxide will not equally distribute across your lotion. Looking at it under a microscope, you’ll see the holes in the protection (literally holes).
So in a nutshell: DIY sunscreen is never safe but it’s a gamble you take personally.
Selling a DIY sunscreen will get you into hot water if one of your customers gets burned and decides to sue you. Do you believe enough into the safety of your concoction to bet your house on it?
Excellent point on a mistake that occurs over and over – the properties of a whole plant or fatty oil from a plant is almost always different from the essential oil.
Gwen Brown says
Yes, yes, yes! And you’d *think* that those selling essential oils would be the ones who would really take special care in differentiating between an essential oil and a fatty oil. It’s important to realize the difference when you’re talking about sun protection and skin damage. I know that there are many amazing essential oils that are great after the fact to help support healthy skin. But that’s a whole different ballgame than preventing damage.
Jenn Pranger says
Thanks for all your research Gwen!
I live in Canada and I thought “I should be able to get this here”
I just called my HFS and they had already ordered it in before I called! I can pick it up locally. 😀
Gwen Brown says
Dr. Mercola just wrote about sun exposure yesterday! Interesting article.
Gwen Brown says
Yep. He’s saying the same thing I am: some sun exposure is important. 🙂 But living in the south with very fair skinned kids, I have to have some form of sun protection or we will all be burned spending an afternoon at the pool. “Appropriate sun exposure” is what I’m shooting for in my family, and that can look different depending on where you live, your skintone, what time of year or day you’re out, and for how long.
Mercola’s article tacks on “and avoiding sunscreen,” but sunscreen has to be part of the “appropriate sun exposure” equation for my family. That’s why I’m spending time researching healthier alternatives to chemical sunscreens. 🙂
Agreed! We are in the south as well, but only 1 of my 6 is fair-skinned, lol. In that article I referenced, he did have a link to another article which talks about what to avoid in choosing a sunscreen. If I recall, he used to sell one of his own sunscreens, but I could not find it on his site.
Amy Ewald says
Thank you for this article!!! I was thinking about making my own sun screen. However all the recipes I saw had essential oil in them and or carrot oil. I kept thinking it didn’t seem right, and I figured I would continue to buy that product. I use Honest Companies for my daughter. I also use it on my face, neck (when my hair is up and I remember!) and shoulders. Otherwise I try to let a little sun get into my skin for Vitamin D, since I live in Michigan and we don’t see the sun for at least 4-5 months a year!
I haven’t searched your site yet, but I’m wondering what you do for bug spray? I’ve been making one and using Honest Company’s. I was actually impressed with the one I made with Essential Oils, not one member of my family got a bite when we were at a State Park ALL day, and it was very buggy. When I use regular bug spray I usually get at least one or two mosquito bites. (I’ll search your site now to see if you have an article about that)
Gwen Brown says
Hi Amy! I’ve not blogged about natural bug repellents yet, but I do use a homemade mix with good results. 🙂
I use Badger anti bug balm for my family. We lived in FL with its multitude of insects and I found it to work very well. It’s a pain to apply though.
Miriam Bolton says
I use: (Lavender, Helichrysum, Carrot Seed, Myrrh). 1 C 100% pure Shea Butter 1/2 C Coconut Oil 4 ounces Beeswax,1/2 C Olive Oil 2 t or more Liquid Vitamin E 3 T Zinc Oxide Powder. The SPF on this recipe is about 30.
What do think of the formula?
Gwen Brown says
I’m truly not an expert on SPF, so I’m not sure how you’d be able to make that claim unless you’re basing it on the percentage of zinc oxide? And even then, I’m really unsure as to how comfortable I would be on stating an SPF on a formula that’s not been tested. I can tell you that the essential oils are not adding any SPF value to speak of, based on what I’ve read.
Miriam Bolton says
The Essential Oil are used to assist in healing of sunburn, the Zinc Oxide is used for Preventing. Did you find any evidence that Shea Butter should not be used?
Gwen Brown says
I believe shea butter is a good ingredient to use! You’ll want to look up zinc oxide percentages to make sure you’re using enough to really get the SPF where you want it. I love the idea of using essential oils to support skin health, but I think it would be more effective in a product that’s designed to soak in and maybe go into an aftersun spritz? The mineral based sunscreens aren’t designed to soak into the skin, but to sit on top of it. I doubt it hurts to use eo’s in your mix, but I think you’d get more use from them in an aloe spritz aftersun product. 🙂
Regardless of research, since you’ve clearly illustrated that it can be inconclusive, I have had great success with my homemade sunblock. Yes, I’ve gotten burned when I’ve been out all day, but it’s a very different kind of burn. It may not be acceptable to you and your kids but it’s great for me. I like having some color. Taking precautions in the sun is important no matter what you are wearing for sunblock i.e.: shirts, hats, homemade block…it’s also important to understand that your homemade block is not waterproof so you have to reapply it very often, but reapplying is the best part bc it smells so good! I use avocado oil, lavender, and aloe Vera. I guess it to be about an SPF 8-15. Not very much, I know, But with a reasonable mix of sun and shade, it makes me feel good about the products I’m using on my skin and the vitamins I soak up from the sun. And yes, I know the research about aloe Vera and it’s spf and working spf, but it does some other stuff in the mix. Lastly, I think the most important thing to consider is how these things are blocking the sun and what they are blocking. I don’t know specifically as I am not an expert either, but I do know that the effects on my skin when using homemade vs some store stuff, it’s very different. I don’t believe that the “SPF” is the only factor of sun protection. That means that any tests based on SPF is not the whole picture. Again, this is only my theory from my experience which surely has bias. I think my 8-15 block works better and safer than any 30 out there! (This doesn’t mean it keeps me translucent-I hate being translucent, I prefer pale and then white over translucent!)
You are Right. Miriam
LOVE this post. Was specifically looking for a rebuttal to the “carrot seed oil has an spf of 30+” claims. Regarding the interactions of different ingredients, and zinc oxide as a “natural” solution to DIY formulas, I recommend reading this blog post, where DIY zinc recipes were tested. https://realizebeauty.wordpress.com/2012/12/30/the-trouble-with-making-your-own-sunscreen/
Gwen Brown says
Awesome blog post! Thanks for sharing. 🙂
The actual SPF of pure carrot seed oil seems to be about 1.3 (http://www.japsonline.com/admin/php/uploads/1065_pdf.pdf).
Gwen Brown says
Not very impressive, huh? 🙂
It seems like the study JTT found is about extract, not oil.
I found also this 2009 different study about carrot seed oil showing SPF19.
Thank you for your awesome reseach,Gwen. I like this post and your view point. Very helpful.
Sue Sullivan says
I recently used Jafra Almond Oil for a sunscreen after reading about it. I run in the almond oil. I didn’t use very much. I put it everywhere except my face and chest. My face and chest were beet red after being in the sun, whereas, the cover areas got no sunburn what so ever.
Gwen Brown says
Hi Sue, some oils can block the rays that burn, but I also like to consider the rays that cause deeper sun damage too. 🙂
Thanks Gwen! My girlfriend asked me about coconut oil as sunscreen and my searching led me here! You inspired me to look further into natural oils as sunscreens.
I put together a list of all the SPF values (and included more information and links to the original studies). Pressed raspberry oil looks promising, but I think it would be difficult to apply it thickly enough to protect as well as commercial sunscreen.
If you have any feedback or find any other natural sunscreens, I’m all ears! Thanks again!
Gwen Brown says
So, this is AWESOME, Jay! Thank you SO much!
Thanks for the info on Carrot Oil. I am a carrot top desperately seeking sunscreen. Many of my all natural friends do not understand that yes, there may be chemicals in the sun screen that I use but I WILL get sun poisoning, skin damage, and skin cancer if I don’t use sunscreen. It is very frustrating for me when someone who is not nearly so susceptible to sun damage as I am is critical of my choices for me and the palefaces I love. I too rely heavily on hats, clothing and shade but I play tennis and garden and sunscreen will always be a part of my bag of cancer avoiding tricks. I will try the formulations you mentioned.
FYI the lighter your eyes the more sun damage is done to them, wear sunglasses to avoid cataracts.
Gwen Brown says
I’m also VERY fair complected with light eyes…I hear you. 🙂 And that’s why I really want to find a sunscreen that’s got cleaner components in it. 🙂
Julie Corps says
Thanks for all your research Gwen. Certainly gave me lots to consider and I truly appreciate that.
I am leaving on vacation this week and was looking up a recipe for DIY sunscreen (to see how much carrot seed oil to use as I couldn’t remember) when I stumbled across your findings. I thought the claim of 38-40 SPF was high. However that being said, my unscientific brain can’t tell you why but for the first time last year I didn’t burn and all I used was my home made sunscreen. We were in Cuba and weather was consistantly mid 80’s the entire week. I used 40 drops of carrot seed oil (therapeutic grade is essential – buyer beware as they are not all the same quality and labels are misleading) in an 80ml glass jar of my home made base cream which consists of grapeseed oil, coconut oil, aloe vera juice, beeswax, distilled water, vitamin E and Tea tree oil. Out of caution I personally would not trust this on my grandson’s delicate skin. Everyone is different but this worked my me. I have dark hair, fair skin and lots of freckles. My skin is not super sensitive but I do burn if I’m not careful. I took a good quality store bought 40 SPF just in case but didn’t use it.
I will mention, carrot seed oil smells disgusting. I added 10 drops of lavender to try to mask the smell a bit. Again, no science behind this but I feel the super moisturizing properties of the base cream may have contributed to my skin not being dehydrated and more prone to burning. I went through 2 jars over the course of a week and reapplied every two hours as I read somewhere the SPF protection with DIY sunscreen doesn’t last longer than that.
I wholeheartedly agree – do your own research but I thought I’d share my experience as it worked for me.
Aaron Holmgren says
Lavender oil cures burns. If you add lavender oil to your skin soon after being burned, the burn will disappear.
Gwen Brown says
I’ve tried a great quality pure lavender essential oil on a burn, and it doesn’t remove it. It may speed healing, but I had better results with aloe.
Star Light says
Oh yes…and what I have found is that coconut oil is bad for all of our skin exept about 8 percent of the population. It thins out skin unless we are in that small fractoon of the populous who it is good for. I have seen mothers burn their children in stubborn solidarity with it. Also, fermented coconut oil is the traditional coconut oil way.
I appreciate this article and comments as I have been testing for several years more chemical-free sunscreens. I was hoping carrot seed EO would be the be-all, I realized the points made here. I finally have found a few (clear) zinc-based products that go on smoothly and don’t make you look like chalk AND that I can kid on my kid. They are pricey, but for her and for my aging face, it’s worth it.
Question to Star Light: I’m curious to know more about how/why coconut oil is “bad for all of our skin” except a small percentage. What does thinning out the skin mean? And are you talking about all uses or just as sunscreens or just for faces? I’m still new to the natural skin game and have become a fan of coconut oil for cooking and skin (except for my face). Thanks for any input!
…oops, excuse type-o’s. Pressed reply too quickly.
Hi Gwen! I think this is the scientific study you may be looking for. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3140123/
And here is one more. Sorry for posting twice!
April 16, 2016
I’m a generation or two older than most of you. We used oils to deliberately tan when i was young. I do NOT think that oils have much of an SPF factor! Don’t take the chance of developing skin cancer on random web recipes.
Is not the oil that will give you cancer, but all those products out there. Have you researched all the ingredients they put into the sunscreen. Do yourself a favor and research all the ingredients. The secret is to stay away from the sun from 10 am until 4 pm. Other than that we need the sun to prevent cancer.
Bahahahashe didn’t say oils would give you cancer. How about we love indoors all our lives! I’ve been burnt at 4-5 in the afternoon BTW thank you for the post Gwen I wonder how accurate these homemade sunscreens where. I’m white with dark Auburn hair and blue eyes, I burn! The last 6 years I’ve been trying to avoid sun burns but still end up with one every year. Usually early spring when I’m not thinking about getting burnt because it’s not hot out.
Exactly my thoughts. People don’t want to get cancer from the sun but their okay with getting it from sunscreen. Here’s your sign. I never put sunscreen on my kids and only one has burned and only on his cheeks while skiing, Shirtless in the pool and no burn though.
Badger is greasy. I didn’t like it
GREAT post! But so sad that all those natural and good quality sunscreen (Bagder ++) is poreglogging (comedogenic). At least for one that is prone to acne.
And also sad that most oil increases hair growth. I have not heard of one that does´t increae hair growth on the head, and also facial hair on men. So I Really don´t want any more facial hair than natural for a women 😉
Excellent post! Thanks a lot for the myth-busting mission and extensive research.
I’m also not at all pro-chemical filters, quite the opposite. But I must admit that I do find these UV claims (made mostly, as you point out, by people who do not even differentiate bw the essential/volatile seed oil and the fatty/macerated oil…) floating around just irresponsible.
Certain oils clearly do have UV protective qualities (in Europe products based on Karanja oil are sold with a SPF 6-8), but as you said, it really is more complicated.
So if I may add to the myth-busting: Raspberry seed oil having a SPF of 28-50 is another unsubstantiated claim. I came across the study which seems to be the source of this rumor (http://www.lotioncrafter.com/reference/oomah.pdf). The explicitely stated aim of the study (2000) was to find out whether RSO could be marketable as a DIETARY supplement. The authors come to the conclusion that yes, it could, not least due to it’s high content (up to 80%) of polyunsaturated fatty acids (linoleic, linolenic) and the ensuing health benefits. PUFAs have wonderful skin care properties and penetrate easily into the skin, but are, due to their “unstable” chemical makeup, also extremly liable to oxidation – that’s why we don’t use them for frying. Putting polyunsaturated fatty acids in/on one’s skin under sun exposure is a bit like putting them in the frying pan, and could possibly accelerate the thing one’s trying to avoid – oxidative damage. The authors attest RSO a “relatively good shelf life” for it’s high PUFA content – but they are talking about “storage studies”: in a bottle and in the dark (and even there peroxide values doubled in the course of 10 days at 37°).
Overall, the study is concerned with the dietary properties of RSO, and the authors themselves only say that RSO “may provide protection” against UVA and UVB – the whole UV protection idea is an aside (at best).
I’m sure there is still a lot to discover reg. alternatives to conventional sunscreen. Substances like Ectoin that do not block UV rays but somehow seem to heighten the skin’s tolerance for oxidative stress sound extremely interesting. Green tea, internally and topical, seems to do something sismilar. I just think that one should keep in mind that most of these options are still untested waters.
(And I really liked your idea with the zinc paste: inspired!)
Gwen Brown says
Thank you for sharing, Sanne! Excellent insights. 🙂
GREAT article. Pisses me off when people make recommendations for EO use and haven’t idea what they’re talking about. It’s dangerous for those who don’t do their own research. Thank you for writing this.
I’ve used the Badger SPF family, and really love the Damascus Rose tinted facial sunscreen. It’s unlike any of their other sunscreen products. Not greasy, runny consistency, spreads easy and dries matte. I super recommend it!
I’ve used their regular 30 SPF cream for my body and found it way too greasy and hard to spread. I would never use it on my face. The film never left and for anything other than pool or beach, I found it unusable. I don’t want to be sticky while outdoor shopping, have lunch, etc.
I returned to Clinique Sun cream.
Jessica Theriaque says
Thank you! Really appreciated.
Thank you for this article. I do sell essential oils, and I am fair, and live in a tropical climate, and I was going to sacrifice a potential sunburn on one shoulder to test out essential oils as a sunscreen. I adore my oils, but they can’t do everything, and I’m very grateful to you for saving me the trouble. I have been using the Davita brand, but they are very expensive, so I will try yours. Thanks so much!
I’m suprised you didn’t just patch test a few oils on your arm, for example. Of course this won’t give you a number, but at least you’d have direct experience of it worked. If you used your normal sunscreen everywhere apart from a patch on your forearm, where you used carrot/ wheatgerm/ avocado oil, well, thats the first port of call i would go to, to accompany my reading with my own imperical data =)
Gwen Brown says
I’m SO fair that I hesitate to test too much if I’m in the sun all day. 🙂 I wanted to research first to see if there was any validity to essential oils having SPF. So now I can spare the expense of using my oils on something that they’re really not designed to do. (Plus, can you imagine the expense and exposure levels of using that much eo on your body through the summer?)
If you wish to get cancer – by all means go ahead buy and use the commercially made ‘sun screens’ who make mega millions on our expense. Most of the products in these are not even tested. Funny , we do not like testing on animals but rather be the subjects ourselves!
We are mislead to believe that the sun, something so natural is the enemy. The sun is good for us! By using the sunscreen you are just protecting yourself from a long and healthy life. Stop lining the pockets of the manufacturers of lies!
Wake up people!
Gwen Brown says
Um….okkkaaayyyyy. Thanks for stopping by, Amy. We can see your passion for enjoying the sun and staying all natural. 🙂
Amy is right. Those industries brain wash us ! We need the sun… From 8 am to 10 am or from 4 pm on…. Unfortunately, people are already brain washed by pharmaceutical and the food industry. No wonder why there are so many people with cancer, and other diseases… Wake up people
All of those sunscreen from badger and pure minerals have toxics which goes direct into your kids’ blood stream. Plus you need to be in the sun for 20 minutes without any sunscreen in order for your body to absorve vitamin D. Sorry , but all those industries just want to make money out of you.Read the ingredients and research them.
I agree with Bia. I have used coconut oil, raspberry seed oil, sesame oil and non nano oxide of zinc and it worked perfectly. The secret is to stay in the sun from 8 am to 10 am, or from 4 pm on. Also do stay in the sun for 20 minutes without any sunscreen. We need the sun, is ridiculous how all of those industries scared us away from the sun. Again, stay in the sun with moderation. The sun can even prevent cancer. What gives you cancer are all of those sun lotions . If you google all the ingredients that those industries put into the Sunlotion, you would never buy any of those products again. Just saying…..
I have used coconut oil, oxide of zinc, raspberry seed oil and it worked just fine. I recommend avoiding the sun from 10:30 until 4 pm. You will be just fine with the natural sunscreen. All of the products you buy has toxic ingredients for your skin anyway. if you want to get cancer keep buying those products.
Amy George says
Thank you so much for providing a clear summary that actually cites research!
Gwen Brown says
You’re so welcome! It takes me a long time to research, so I like to share what I learned…hoping it saves other people the hassle. 🙂
My son and I are both very pale and burn easily. I make a mixture of coconut oil, myrrh essential oil, carrot seed essential oil and lavender essential oil. It’s the best sunscreen I’ve ever used! I used to get the worst sunburns as a kid and did NOT want my son to experience that. I’m not sure what kind of essential oils you used or if you didn’t use enough drops in your batch or what, but we love our DIY Sunscreen. 🙂 I hope y’all find one that you like and works well. Gotta protect our sweet little ones!
Gwen Brown says
Hi Kelly! I’m glad you have something that you like, but essential oils do not provide sufficient spf to be used protectively for us…I provide links to my sources in the blog post. 🙂
I have to agree here. I am skeptical about health claims of essential oils, but I have had FANTASTIC success with carrot seed essential oil. My husband and I are both lily white super burners. He slinks around in the shade like a vampire who will shrivel and die if exposed to sunlight, and I burn in mere minutes. We have been using coconut oil with carrot seed oil for 2 years now on ourselves and our kids, and NO burns at all! I don’t know about UVB rays, though…hadn’t considered that. I totally break out from zinc oxide, and want to avoid all the other chemicals too…harumpf. Nothing is perfect.
You keep saying “mama’s” which is possessive and not plural. Mamas is plural. Jesus.
Gwen Brown says
But all the store bought “natural” sunscreens are not really 100% natural. What they do is make the sunscreen part of the cream natural, but the rest is full of chemicals. It’s all in the marketing. So when you ask if it’s natural sunscreen, technically it is…but the rest is not.
Thelma Sansome says
Does coconut oil really thin the skin on your face when use has a cleanser?
Gwen Brown says
No. Coconut oil is fine for cleansing…it’s not a great moisturizer.
Great article! I’ve been playing around with recipes for home made sunscreen for a while now.. but I don’t trust the claims of carrot seed oil being spf 28 without any references. I have found it to work pretty well for me, but I tend to tan and not burn too easily unless I’m out all day. I like to read actual research before I believe all the hype. It’s unfortunate that I can’t seem to find any research specifically on high grade carrot seed essential oils.. I wish they would do some tests so we could clear it up! lol! 😀 This raspberry seed oil study is interesting though, https://www.researchgate.net/publication/215523935_Characteristics_of_raspberry_Rubus_idaeus_L_seed_oil
It does seem to support that raspberry seed oil could have an spf rating around 28, which is encouraging. Hopefully in the future people can test it’s capabilities more. I still think zinc is the safest bet for now though. I love trying to find healthier alternatives, and I love my EO’s but sometimes you have to dig a little deeper to find out if it’s all its cracked up to be. If they solved everything like some people say I’m sure they would be illegal lol! Thanks for posting about this! 😀
Great article Gwen!
You can’t put citrus oils on your skin and go out in the sun yet the badger Balm products that you mention at the end have more then one citrus Oil in it. You busted no myths.
Gwen Brown says
Hi Joe, While citrus oils in general do contain warnings with phototoxicity (and that’s a GREAT thing for people considering them for recipes for their skin). But specific citrus oils are not photo-toxic. You’d want to look at the individual oil and its properties. But that’s not really my focus here. The myth I’m focusing on is the one that says that essential oils have SPF. They do not.
Timothy Gallardo says
SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor and refers to the theoretical amount of time you can stay in the sun without getting sunburned. For example, an SPF of 15 would allow you to stay in the sun 15 times longer than you could without protection. So, if your skin starts to redden in 20 minutes without sun block, applying a product with SPF 15 increases that time by a factor of 15, meaning you could stay in the sun for 300 minutes. In addition, a higher SPF blocks out more rays — a product with an SPF of 15 will filter out approximately 93 percent of UVB rays; SPF 30 filters out about 97 percent.
Karen Seay says
hi….we tried the Badger sunscreen this past week at the beach……HORRIBLE sunburn! Have you tried and liked a DIY sunscreen or what one do you recommend trying?
Sue Ingram says
Entertaining reading plus fabulous sleuthing. One thing not mentioned, which is my great passion in sunscreens, is how much protection you’re getting from UVA and not just UVB rays? All very well to talk SPF, but the more important UV rays to be protected from is UVA. Although zinc oxide is the best known broad spectrum sunscreen ingredient from that perspective, getting the balance right is also really important. There’s so much more complexity in making sunscreens than one thinks!
Now gajar is daucus carota too? How can three things have the exact scientific name and be different objects altogether? I just looked up daucus carota after reading your entire article, and carrot seed essential oils came up with only that as it’s ingredient. In fact, I own a bottle of carrot seed essential oil which also has daucus carota as its only ingredient. So, how can you say that carrot seed oil is different from carrot seed essential oil, when they are formed of – and only of – the exact same thing?
I agree that zinc oxide makes great sunscreen, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t other natural spf products that can be added to it.
Gwen Brown says
Daucus carota refers to the species…so you’re seeing that these products were produced from the same species of plant. That doesn’t mean that they’re the exact same product. A carrot from the ground is also 100% daucus carota and is very different than your bottle of essential oil. Just knowing the species that a product is extracted from doesn’t tell you how the product was made, and whether the seeds were steam distilled into essential oil or cold pressed. I do think carrot seed essential oil has some wonderful properties for the skin. But SPF is not one of them.
I used homemade sunscreen as a fair human from Michigan now living Florida. I got my recipe from class where I am attending to be a Doctor of Chiropractic. I use coconut oil that is specifically made to be a carrier, lavender, and carrot seed oil. There is no refrigeration that happens or anything like that. Just mix and go. I completely agree on many of your points and that here are some pretty crappy “recipes” out there for it that aren’t doing anyone any good but there are good ones to, based on my research, post learning this in class, and then using it for myself. I’ve never gotten a burn and my skin has been way healthier.
There are a few things that made a big difference for me when choosing to go this route for such an important use. The first being my five-finger rule should apply not only to my diet but also to my skin. So anything that goes in or on me must pass the simple test of if there are five things in the ingredients that I cannot pronounce, don’t know what it is, or know what is it and that it is harmful then I don’t use it.
Secondly, what most people don’t know is that there are two main types of UV rays. One that damages us and is the cause of free radicals and cancer and one that is your vitamin d source. Most sunscreens made in a factory, even those that claim to be all natural, are blocking out GOOD UV rays in addition to having crappy chemicals in them that are also harmful to the body. People forget that whatever goes on your skin doesn’t just stay there. It goes around your whole body.
I am most definitely not saying that there is not a single company that makes a honest, quality sunscreen, I’m just saying most don’t and they don’t want you to think they don’t. I’ve never heard of the brand you mention, but just food for thought. I’m so glad there are people that truly care about what goes on their bodies and are concerned about such an important matter when so many brush it aside.
You are the best. What a champ.
Neville Bryant says
I am from New Zealand and am wanting to formulate a natural sunscreen. Do you know where I can go to get the SPF scientifically tested. The ingredient that I am looking at is Raspberry Oil.
Gwen Brown says
I don’t Neville. Best of luck with your product!
Annette Jordan says
Would love to chat with you about my new product line and look into the future products you would like to see..
Very useful article, thank you.
Have you heard of Red Raspberry Seed oil as the one of the highest spf protecting among all natural herbal ones?
I am planning to try to make my own sunblock with it, adding Zinc oxide to it anyway!
Try think sport I believe it the safest as far as ingredients and super effective. I had melanoma so now my family and i are Uber protected in the sun.
I’m into using essential oils for a variety of things but not when it comes to securing UVA and uvb protection. Thanks for the article it confirmed what I was already thinking.
Anurag Verma says
Formulation and evaluation of carrot seed oilbased cosmetic emulsions. Journal of Cosmetic and Laser Therapy, DOI: 10.1080/14764172.2018.1469769
The present study deals with the evaluation of antiaging potential of carrot seed oil-based cosmetic
emulsions. Briefly, cosmetic emulsions composed of carrot seed oil in varying proportions (2, 4, and 6%
w/v) were prepared using the hydrophile–lipophile balance (HLB) technique. Coconut oil, nonionic
surfactants (Tween 80 and Span 80), and xanthan gum were used as the oil phase, emulgent, and
emulsion stabilizer, respectively. The formed emulsions were evaluated for various physical, chemical,
and biochemical parameters such as the zeta potential, globule size measurement, antioxidant activity,
sun protection factor (SPF), skin irritation, and biochemical studies. The zeta potential values ranged
from −43.2 to −48.3, indicating good stability. The polydispersity index (PDI) of various emulsion
formulations ranged from 0.353 to 0.816. 1,1-Diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl- (DPPH) and nitric oxide-free
radical scavenging activity showed the antioxidant potential of the prepared carrot seed oil emulsions.
The highest SPF value (6.92) was shown by F3 having 6%w/v carrot seed oil. Histopathological data and
biochemical analysis (ascorbic acid (ASC) and total protein content) suggest that these cosmetic
emulsions have sufficient potential to be used as potential skin rejuvenating preparations.
Gwen Brown says
Thank you for sharing!
“While burning *does* indicate skin damage, the non-burning UVB rays that can also cause serious long term damage to skin. ”
I think you meant UVA?
thank you for this report, I first came across your site when I was a new THM-er and your bread recipe is fantastic. BTW I enjoyed your report here on carrot seed oil, raising awareness to research and be careful, I am trying myself to formulate a sunscreen and I was happy to come across this, as I was seeing Carrot Seed by bloggers as a high SFP, and sought out to research if there were facts on the subject, we have to be soooo careful what we write !!! thankyou for your honesty and level headed article.
Gwen Brown says
You’re so welcome, Cindy! I like to dig a little and be sure of what I read. 😉 That’s why I try to add links to supporting evidence whenever possible.
Jeff Docherty says
from what i can tell, the bees wax creates the waterpoofing, hence good for surfers!
You can add raspberry seed oil / pomegranite seed oil / carrot seed oil /myrrh oil in the correct amounts as natural SPF and useful additions for skin nourishment and regeneration.
You can put these natural products into your current Suncream to enhance them too.
You can add your own Zinc Oxide, as a powder, but with great care; wear gloves/mask, it must not be inhaled.
The Aloa vera, i would save for an After Sun lotion combined with lavender oil, shea butter, coconut oil.
And…kick back and relax.
Lisa B says
Hi Gwen, do you have an update? Did you find a good sunscreen yet? Thanks!
Gwen Brown says
I shared the recipe for my DIY Sunscreen Recipe. I also am really enjoying the convenient spray mineral sunscreen from Babo at the moment.
Fred Tiller says
So you are saying a reliable natural sunscreen can be made with zinc oxide? Why dont you lead your article with that fact? You are doing a great disservice by taking the lawyer approach and discouraging people from taking control of their health and implicitly encouraging the use of commercial sunscreens which have often been proven to increase cancer!!! You are encouraging people to literally be afraid of their own shadow!!!!!
Let me pass on some information, best to have everyone check out this way to take care of ourselves!!!!
Zinc oxide: use this as 20% of the total volume of the sunscreen. 5% zinc oxide: SPF 2-5; 10% ZO: 6-11 SPF; 15% ZO:12-19 SPF; 20% ZO: SPF greater than 20.
Please research this and write an article on it, if you verify it, write an article greatly promoting it (mix with coconut oil/shea oil or other lotion type carrier. Mix with a couple tbsp melted beeswax to make more waterproof when swimming.
Gwen Brown says
I’m addressing a specific claim made about carrot seed oil that I came across multiple times in my attempts at finding a reputable sunscreen alternative. I actually did find a mix that I trust using, and I blogged about it here. DIY Sunscreen Recipe
This article was not about discouraging people from taking care of themselves…quite the opposite actually. It’s important to me to have trustworthy information, and I am just sharing the research that I did to confirm which natural ingredients are actually providing spf coverage, and which are being promoted without supporting evidence. I found it useful, and wanted to share 🙂
It sounds like you have really clear ideas of how things should be written and presented; I’d encourage you to pick up blogging! Always great to hear from people with good ideas and good research. 😉
I am going to disagree speaking from experience.
I am fair skinned and burn easily. Oh, and I blister.
Went to visit my daughter in TX. It was sunny and 108*. We were going to the neighborhood pool. She told me about the carrot and coconut oil combo. Oh was I a skeptic but had nothing to lose.
After hours in the sun and pool I did NOT burn! Made me a believer.
Visited my sister in GA. She has a pool. I brought my carrot and coconut oil mixture. Spent three weeks in the GA sun and pool. NO sunburn! Everyone was using it after they saw me not burn in the first few days.
So, you can cite all the studies etc, but I can attest it, in fact DOES work!
I’ve not ever responded to any blog before, so this is my first time, because I feel so strongly that you got it wrong on this one.
Gwen Brown says
Oh, this is so exciting! Could you share what products you used?
Thank you for your research.
Davo Jaeger says
The problem with so-called ‘experts’, as seen in any court of law and beyond, is that each side has their own ‘expert’ and they very rarely agree; they only agree to be paid. I’m definitely looking for zero spf and going out for a limited time. You don’t need to be totally afraid of the sun when man-made pollution, radiation, electro-smog, along with the chems in food and water, are definitely full of cancer-causing chems. Absolute truth and fact. Be observant and be informed then do your best; however, much info–even from the gov and corps–is misleading.
Sweetgrass and sunshine…
You are sooo wrong. Yes, we can make our own sunscreen at home. What you can’t do is to toast on the sun all day long. All of those sunscreens that you buy out there contains toxic ingredients that eventually will give you cancer, so industries spend billions of money brain washing people like you, so you can run to the store to buy their product. They don’t care about your health, but about making profit out of you. Wake up my friend!
Lorraine Baldelli says
If you look for a a study on everything before you try it you will never know truth.. Carrot seed oil does in fact work with an SPF around 40. You just want to send people to make purchases you can benefit from… Shame on you!!!!
Jeroen Van Wijk says
First of all thanks for all the good info we can find here. I wanted to ad something that you will probably find very interesting. there is an oil, KARANJA OIL (PONGAMIA GLABRA SEED OIL) which has a spf20. And it looks like that this is one of the best alternatives you can find for the moment, also withoud zinc or titanium dioxide.
A link to the study : http://jprsolutions.info/newfiles/journal-file-55ed96a36b1758.97478164.pdf
A link to an example of the product : http://www.biosolis.info/nl_be/onze-gamma/details/22/Sublimating-Zonne-Olie-Spray-SPF20–100ml
the company also states that they do tests in an independent lab to check the SPF.
What do you think?
Exactly! And you can’t use undiluted essential oils this way; they evaporate too quickly and won’t do the job. They have to be mixed with a carrier oil such as coconut oil. So this explains the result of one commenter’s complaint. Besides, the facts don’t add up.
Gwen Brown says
I’m not sure which facts are not adding up for you. Essential oils don’t provide SPF. They may be wonderful for your skin, but they don’t provide sunscreen protection.
Jeroen, from what I understand is that Karanja oil doesn’t supply a SPF of 20. In fact, according to the article, this oil gives a high protection against UVA (as SPF refers to the protection against UVB). Other ingredients are still needed for UVB protection. As such, in the article it is stated that Karunja oil may be helpful in broadening the UV protection. Also, research was done in-vitro, so in practical application things can be totally different.
The last link you provide….here the Biosolis product claims to get his protection from Karunja oil. This contradicts with the research in the article. The SPF of 20 cannot be provided by this oil. I don’t know if and how the testing was done. Things don’t add up in my opinion.
Some (essential) oils may or may not provide (some) SPF, which refers to the protection against UVB. The question is: how is the protection of theses oils against UVA. UVB is responsible for sunburn, but the UVA penetrates the skin deeper and is responsible for skin aging on long-term.
Although not ideal, but personally I think zinc oxide is the safest way to go if you can’t avoid the sun between 10 am and 4 pm.