Learn how to make homemade sunscreen that is soothing, safe for babies and coral reefs, and will last you all summer long. This homemade sunscreen recipe has been tried and true in our family for a few years now and is the only sunscreen we ever use! Make your own natural sunscreen with only a few ingredients that will last all summer long.
Don’t be intimidated at the idea of making your own natural sunscreen. This homemade sunscreen is safe for kids, babies, during pregnancy, and for the environment too. Using clean ingredients you probably have on hand, you can whip up a batch of this DIY sunscreen and use it all summer long.
PIN IT FOR LATER!
Life’s Sweet Moments
I am writing this post on a Saturday afternoon, which means one thing: Hawaiian music.
Yes, we listen to Hawaiian music every Saturday at our house. It’s something my parents used to do and I adopted. It signifies relaxation and “chill vibes” that you get when you go to Hawaii. Like being on island time. Nothing is a problem, and everyone is good.
So all of that to say, we love Hawaii very much. My husband actually lived on Oahu as a child, whereas I was (and still am) a frequent visitor to Maui for vacation.
Last time we were on Maui, which was a year ago, we saw more signs than ever warning people against wearing sunscreen in the water.
They warned against any chemical sunscreen, saying absolutely no spray sunscreens in the water, and that the sunscreen must be zinc oxide based or else you cannot go in.
After all the years I’ve been to Maui, I’ve never seen such a dramatic effort to prevent toxic sunscreen in the water before.
This is because sunscreens can be incredibly toxic to fish, coral reefs, and anything living in the water. And that really scares me personally.
Luckily on our last trip I had already made a batch of this homemade sunscreen with zinc oxide, but if I hadn’t, we’d be scrambling to find an appropriate sunscreen to wear.
What type of sunscreen is best?
At the store you will find two options for sunscreen: a mineral sunscreen, or a chemical sunscreen.
Mineral sunscreens typically contain a physical block, which creates a barrier on your skin so the UV rays can’t penetrate it. This is an effective and generally less toxic way to protect your skin from UV rays. Sometimes these sunscreens can look more “white” than their chemical alternatives.
The mineral sunscreens are generally better but do usually cost more. They also aren’t all completely clean like they may say on the label.
Chemical sunscreens, on other hand, act like a sponge and absorb UV rays into your skin, and convert the UV light into heat, which then dissipates. These sunscreens contain chemicals like oxybenzone, which is the ingredient that is considered unsafe for coral reefs. Oxybenzone is also known to disrupt hormones and cause skin allergies. Read more about this here.
Chemical sunscreens are undoubtably the worst for your skin. These are the common brand names like Coppertone, Banana Boat, etc. They are usually the cheapest, too.
It is generally best to avoid chemical sunscreens all together, especially spray sunscreens, and stick with a physical block like zinc oxide.
Benefits of making your own sunscreen
There are many things I like to make homemade, and sunscreen is one of them.
Regardless of the type of sunscreen, if you are buying store bought sun block it likely has ingredients that are not essential to preventing sun from penetrating the skin. For example, it may contain fragrances, preservatives, or other additives to create a smooth lather, roll-on, or even spray.
All of these could be toxic for your skin and body, which is why I like to avoid them if possible.
Making your own sunscreen at home allows you to only include healthy ingredients that are actually good for you, and also adding one natural ingredient (zinc oxide) that is physically blocking the UV rays from your skin.
Homemade sunscreen will also save you money, because it’s “healthy” alternatives can run up quite the price tag. Personally, I like to keep these ingredients on hand for more reason than just sunscreen.
I use these ingredients in my all purpose homemade lotion recipe and whipped body butter, as well as homemade diaper cream and varicose vein relief cream (which has been a life saver during this pregnancy!).
What Ingredients are Best for Homemade Sunblock?
A physical block, zinc oxide sits on your skin like a shield to block UV rays. This non toxic sun block ingredient is safe for you and your children, as well as coral reefs when swimming in the ocean.
Because zinc oxide creates a barrier on the skin, it also helps in treating rashes or wounds. It’s great for a homemade diaper rash cream, fore example. Zinc oxide also helps control oily skin and promotes hydrated, moisturized skin.
Make sure to get a pure, non-nano zinc oxide.
Avocado oil is excellent in homemade sunscreen. It is said to have a high SPF of about 15, but used on its own for long periods of time would not be as effective as a physical block such as zinc oxide. (Source)
Avocado oil also contains high amounts of vitamin E, potassium, and antioxidants, that can help reduce skin irritations such as eczema or psoriasis. It can also accelerate wound healing and help heal sunburns.
It would probably not surprise you to learn that aloe vera works great in homemade sunscreen. Personally I love the texture it adds to the sun block.
Aloe vera is also known for protecting about 20% of the sun’s UV rays, but again, for a long period of time would probably not be effective on its own. Aloe vera is a powerful moisturizer that is often used to treat sun burns and restore the skin’s moisture after a day in the sun.
Combined with the zinc oxide in this recipe, it makes a powerful homemade sunscreen. Aloe vera is also an anti-inflammatory which can help with burns, abrasions, dry skin, frost bite, and many other skin ailments. (Source)
Shea butter is wildly known for its skin benefits, as it contains vitamin A and vitamin E, provides light sun protection, relieves dry skin, and eases irritations such as eczema. It also has anti-aging benefits.
The SPF of shea butter is about 3-4 according to this article. So, not enough to provide full sun coverage on its own, but combined with these ingredients creates a very powerful and effective sunscreen.
It also keeps the skin hydrated and moisturized, which is especially appreciated in a homemade sunscreen recipe.
Similar to shea butter, cocoa butter has an SPF of around 6 on its own. You can use 100% shea butter or 100% cocoa butter in this recipe, but I personally love combining the two.
Coconut oil is good for hydrating and nourishing the skin, especially when it’s exposed to a lot of sun.
The SPF in coconut oil is between 1-7, depending on which research you read.
Essential Oils for Homemade Sunscreen
Lastly but certainly not least, essential oils contribute to healthy skin in this homemade sunscreen recipe.
All three of these oils help aid in reducing inflammation, calming the skin, and reducing pain from bruises and wounds. In my personal experience, lavender and frankincense provide a moderate relief, while helichrysum provides a stronger relief for damaged skin.
Helichrysum is perhaps my favorite in this recipe because it contains special properties that make it an antioxidant, an antibacterial, an antifungal and an anti-inflammatory. As such, it can be used in dozens of different ways to boost health and ward off disease. Some of its most popular uses are for treating wounds, infections, digestive problems, supporting the nervous system and heart health, and healing respiratory conditions. Read more about helichrysum here.
Helichrysum essential oil can be expensive, but you can buy a diluted version here.
Essential oils are not necessary for homemade sunscreen, but they add a natural fragrance, and also benefits for the skin and overall health. Just be sure to avoid photo-sensitive essential oils, which are citrus, lemon, lime, grapefruit, etc. These oils can attract sun to the skin, creating more risk for sun damage.
You can get all 3 oils at a wholesale discount here.
This post contains affiliate links, which means I may make a small commission off items you buy at no extra cost to you. As an Amazon associate, I earn on qualifying purchases. See my full disclosure here.
Homemade Sunscreen Ingredients:
Makes 16-18 ounces of sunscreen
1/2 cup shea butter
1/2 cup cocoa butter
2 tbsp aloe vera
1/4 cup avocado oil (we get ours from Costco)
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup zinc oxide
20 total drops essential oils – I use a combination of Lavender, Frankincense, Helichrysum (get these essential oils with the wholesale discount here)
Large mixing bowl
Stovetop pot or double broiler
Spoon for stirring
Hand beaters (optional, but creates a nice whipped texture)
Small mason jars for storage (I like these ones)
How to Make Homemade Sunscreen
In a double broiler, or a large bowl placed on top of a stovetop pot, heat the shea butter, cocoa butter, aloe vera, avocado oil, and coconut oil. Stir until just melted.
Once melted, remove the mixture from the stove and let cool several minutes.
Then add the zinc oxide and essential oils. I like to add essential oils for the added health benefits and natural fragrance, but they are optional in this recipe. Stir to combine.
Next cover the mixture with plastic over the top of the bowl and place it in the fridge for 2-4 hours, until the mixture has just started to harden but isn’t rock solid yet.
Remove from fridge and, with hand mixers, mixers the sunscreen until desired texture is formed, usually about 1-2 minutes. This will give it a nice whipped, spreadable texture.
Scoop into a sealed glass storage container and enjoy all summer long!
What can I use instead of sunscreen at home?
Prepare your own homemade sunscreen with a few simple ingredients. All you really need is the zinc oxide – everything else is meant to help spread it onto your skin.
The zinc oxide is a physical barrier to the sun, so you can combine it with just about any butter or lotion to create your own sunscreen. Or, try my favorite recipe I have posted below!
What oil is best for DIY suns
What oil is best for DIY sunscreen?
Avocado oil, coconut oil, jojoba oil, and olive oil all contain small amounts of SPF and can be used in your DIY sunscreen recipe. These oils are not recommended on their own to provide full sun protection, but combined with an ingredient like zinc oxide, they make a powerful sunscreen.
Does homemade sunscreen work?
This homemade sunscreen has worked well for our family for a few years. When I first started making it, I learn how much zinc to put in and how to make it a nice texture for spreading. Other than that we’ve never had an issue with sun burns while using this sunscreen. So yes, assuming you use the correct ingredients, homemade sunscreen works great for adults, kids, and even babies.
How do you make homemade sunscreen for babies?
Homemade sunscreen for babies is similar to for adults, assuming you are using all nontoxic and safe ingredients. This recipe uses natural ingredients such as shea butter, cocoa butter, coconut oil, aloe vera, and zinc oxide as a physical block from the sun which safe for babies.
- In a double broiler, or a large bowl placed on top of a stovetop pot, heat the shea butter, cocoa butter, aloe vera, avocado oil, and coconut oil. Stir until just melted.
- Once melted, remove the mixture from the stove and let cool several minutes.
- Then add the zinc oxide and essential oils. I like to add essential oils for the added health benefits and natural fragrance, but they are optional in this recipe. Stir to combine.
- Next cover the mixture with plastic over the top of the bowl and place it in the fridge for 2-4 hours, until the mixture has just started to harden but isn’t rock solid yet.
- Remove from fridge and, with hand mixers, mixers the sunscreen until desired texture is formed, usually about 1-2 minutes. This will give it a nice whipped, spreadable texture.
- Scoop into a glass mason jar and enjoy all summer long!