We have just finished our school year, so we are officially on summer break, regardless of whether or not the “season” has started. It’s warm enough here to be classified as summer, and I’m not complaining!
When the sun is out, I want to be out there in it. Even if I’m just out there with nothing to do, I love being in the sun. And the sun is how our bodies naturally make Vitamin D, a super important nutrient required for a healthy immune system, strong bones and teeth, proper hormone function, and so much more. Our bodies really only need about 15 minutes in the sun to make enough Vitamin D for the day, and early morning sun is best.
Too bad I can’t just stay outside for 15 minutes. Since it’s generally for much longer periods of time, especially when we spend time at the beach, there has to be some sort of protection to keep from being scorched. So sunscreen is almost always a must.
There are generally two different types of sunscreen, mineral based or chemical. Mineral sunscreens provide a physical barrier using zinc oxide to protect the skin from harmful UV rays. Chemical sunscreens contain one or more chemicals, including oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and octinoxate, which while they help block UV rays, they also are absorbed into our skin and blood stream. New research has shown that these chemicals are endocrine disruptors, estrogenic and may interfere with thyroid and other hormone processes in the body. The most common sunscreen chemical, oxybenzone, is not only an endocrine disruptor, but can reduce sperm count in men, is thought to contribute to endometriosis in women and is extremely harmful to aquatic life.
Honestly I have used my fair share of chemical sunscreens, but not any longer. I’ve tried a couple mineral based ones, but they can be so hard to rub into your skin and they’re also pretty expensive. So, like so many other things, why not make my own.
I never really thought about it, but there lots things that contain a natural SPF.
- Coconut oil contains antioxidants that help protect the skin from harmful radiation from the sun and has a natural SPF of 4-5 .
- Shea butter, cocoa butter and mango butter are all great for your skin and help aid in repair and rejuvenation, but they also contain an SPF of 6-15.
- Red raspberry seed oil contains a huge amount of antioxidants and has an SPF of 25-50.
- Carrot Seed Oil is has significant antioxidant, antiseptic and antifungal properties, contains high levels of vitamin A, and when mixed with a carrier oil it has an SPF of 35-40.
- Almond oil deeply moisturizes the skin, heals scars, lessens wrinkles and has an SPF of 5-15.
- Zinc oxide provides full spectrum coverage from UVA and UVB long and short waves, has natural anti-inflammatory properties and has an SPF of 2-20 depending on how much is used.
So a combination of a few of these natural products will produce a pretty decent sunscreen. And, since zinc oxide is a physical barrier, nothing toxic will be soaking into your skin.
I had most of these things on hand. I didn’t have the red raspberry seed oil or the carrot seed oil, so I ordered the raspberry oil just for this. Once it came in I got straight to work because it was already time to be hitting the beach.
Here’s what I used:
- 2 ounces beeswax pellets (to make it water-proof)
- 2 ounces cocoa butter
- 2 ounces coconut oil
- 2 ounces liquid oil – total (I used a combination of jojoba and red raspberry seed oil)
- 2 ounces zinc oxide, uncoated and non-nano
- Kitchen scale
- Silicone squeeze tubes
First measure out all of your ingredients using a kitchen scale. I love my electronic one and highly recommend it for exact measurements.
Next, put the beeswax, cocoa butter and coconut oil in a heavy bottomed pan or double boiler and melt them all together on low heat. You don’t want them to get too hot and boil, just hot enough to liquefy.
Once it’s all melted, take it off the heat for a couple minutes to allow it to cool off just a bit and then add in your liquid oils of choice. Whisk everything all together to make sure it’s all blended well.
Next add in the zinc oxide, but only a small amount at a time. The zinc oxide will start to solidify the sunscreen, so it’s a whole lot easier to work it all in by doing a little at a time rather than dumping it all in at once. While you’re whisking, it will seem like the zinc oxide will never fully incorporate, but keep going because I promise that it will. If it starts to get too thick and you’re unable to whisk it all in, place it back on low heat to soften it up until you get it all blended together and smooth.
Now just let it cool. I actually let it cool for about ten minutes and that was almost too long. It was a little more difficult to get it into the tubes as a solid, so next time I’ll probably only let it cool five minutes or so. That way it will be much easier to work with.
I’m super happy with the finished product. Just looking at it, it looks like a nice paste. And it made enough for this small jar and two of my silicone squeeze tubes.
I tried this sunscreen out this past Memorial Weekend and was super happy with it. It needed to be warmed up just a bit to be applied, but it rubbed in clear and worked really well. The temperature here this weekend was 100 degrees plus, so it was definitely a true test.
My husband thought I was crazy for trying this out on such a hot day, and he worried just a bit that it wouldn’t work, but I am happy to report that I was on the beach for several hours and did not burn at all! I didn’t re-apply either, but if we had stayed longer I probably would have.
So I am super happy with this sunscreen. I’ll be using this on myself and the kids this summer for sure. My husband would rather use something faster, but hopefully I can get him on board with this safer and equally effective alternative.
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