I have a confession: I frigging love the sun. As health-conscious as I try to be, I will happily run around outside all summer long until I turn a deep mahogany. And I know, I know… that’s awful. But, I figure, so were all the chemicals in standard sunscreens.
So I did my homework and found a recipe for a super-simple, all-natural sunscreen that would protect me, outside and in.
Organic Coconut Oil — 5 Tbsp / 74 mL
Zinc Oxide Powder (non-nano) — 1 Tbsp / 10-15 g
Optional: Red Raspberry Seed Oil or Carrot Seed Oil
This recipe will make a little over 3 fluid ounces (100 mL), or roughly a standard travel-size empty bottle. Need to pick up ingredients? Here’s coconut oil, zinc oxide, red raspberry seed oil, and carrot seed oil.
In a food processor, combine your ingredients and blend until creamy.
As a general rule, you want your sunscreen to be anywhere from 5-20% zinc oxide. Any less is ineffective, any more is just overkill. When it comes to SPF, more is not always more. Remember, SPF 100 blocks 99% of UV rays, but SPF 15 blocks 93%. Translation? You’re good.
Coconut oil on its own has a natural SPF of about 10, and is a natural moisturizer that’s great for your skin. It also contains lauric acid, which kills bacteria and fungi — both good news for your skin (breakouts, anyone?) and your sunscreen’s shelf life. Plus, the coconut oil helps to make your sunscreen naturally water-resistant.
If you want to add other oils, red raspberry seed oil is estimated to have an SPF between 25 and 50, and carrot seed oil has an SPF of around 40. I recommend blending your zinc oxide and coconut oil, then topping off any remaining difference with your additional oils.
Zinc oxide is an excellent UVA blocker, so combined with the oils’ UVB blockers, there’s your broad-spectrum protection right there. But the dust can harm your lungs, so be sure to do your scooping outside or with a mask. When buying zinc oxide, make sure it’s non-nano. Nanoparticles are particles so small, they can enter your bloodstream directly through your skin. (Which would definitely put an abrupt end to your summer fun…)
If you want to add essential oils like citronella to keep the bugs away, feel free. 10-20 drops should suffice. This recipe is completely odorless, otherwise. If you do decide to scent your homemade sunscreen with essential oils, however, it’s a good idea to shy away from anything citrus, since they can exacerbate photosensitivity.
What’s so bad about my regular sunscreens, you ask? Most sunscreens today use chemicals instead of minerals to block UV. Be on the lookout for two common active ingredients: oxybenzone or octinoxate. Both are endocrine disruptors that enter the bloodstream through your skin. Oxybenzone only blocks UVB rays, not UVA. And octinoxate works great, up until — ironically — it’s exposed to sunlight. Then it becomes both ineffective and highly hepatoxic. (AKA: liver-toxic.) For tons more info, check out EWG’s Sunscreen Guide.
No sunscreen is a bullet-proof vest — so be smart when you’re outside. But this easy, non-toxic recipe is good on the pocketbook, good on the liver, and good on the skin. I call that a win-win… -win!
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