As you know, we’re always touting about prevention first when it comes to great skin. Whether you’re jumping into skincare for the first time or you’re a dermatology aficionado, sunscreen needs to be a part of your daily routine. But then comes the big question – should we use commercial sunscreens, or are there other options like homemade sunscreens?
If you have sensitive skin, homemade sunscreen might just be what you need.
Just like skin types have many variations, so do sunscreens. They come in different forms, have different chemical makeup and can cause different reactions on an individual’s skin.
Whatever your reasons, it can be overwhelming trying to find a sunblock that works for you. And some dedicated people have turned to making their own homemade sunscreen.
So, how do you know if you should buy commercial brands or make your own homemade sunscreen? We’re breaking down sunscreens so you have what you need to decide.
Types Of Sunscreens
In general, sunscreens come in 2 forms: chemical sunscreens and mineral sunscreens. Chemical sunscreens are exactly that – they are made of chemicals like oxybenzone or homosalate that sink into your skin and help to protect from the sun.
Mineral sunscreens use chemicals (like zinc oxide) to act as a physical barrier against the sun.
There’s a lot of debate out there on whether you should stick with the commercial-grade sunblock or make your own. No solution is perfect, but we’ve done the research for you, so check out the pros and cons of both commercial and homemade sunscreens.
Homemade and Commercial Sunscreens: Pros and Cons
Pro: Commercial sunscreens are more waterproof. The additives that you may be avoiding may also make your sunscreen work better overall. In many cases, additional ingredients are added to keep your sunblock on in water or in sweaty situations. In many cases, homemade sunblock recipes aren’t waterproof or are moderately water-resistant. This might just mean you have to reapply a few more times if you opt for a DIY sunscreen.
Con: Commercial sunscreens can hurt your health. A study from Consumer Reports warned that most chemical sunscreens can interfere with your thyroid, or mess with your natural hormone processes. In fact, only 2 of the 16 active ingredients in sunblock (zinc oxide and titanium dioxide) have been approved by the FDA to be generally safe if absorbed into your bloodstream. For the other 14 ingredients, it hasn’t been determined if absorption can cause negative symptoms.
Pro: Commercial sunscreens generally work better than mineral ones. Consumer Reports showed that chemical sunscreens are more effective – thanks to their active ingredients – than mineral ones that just contain physical sun barriers. But if you want to avoid any chemical, make it oxybenzone, which appears to be the most troublesome in terms of negative side-effects.
Con: Commercial sunscreens can irritate your skin. While they may be providing SPF50 protection, harsh chemicals and perfumes could end up irritating your skin. When your skin is itchy, red, and sensitive, adding sun exposure makes for real discomfort. If you have seriously sensitive skin, it can be hard to find a commercial sunscreen that doesn’t make you want to stay indoors 24/7.
Pro: Commercial sunscreens are stable over time. A lot of ingredients in sunscreens (both homemade and commercial) can be unstable or degrade with time and sun exposure. This means that your DIY sunscreen could have gone bad without you ever knowing. Thanks to extensive testing, you can be reassured that your store-bought sunscreen will remain effective until it’s expiration date.
Pro: You could save lots of money. Sunscreen can be expensive, especially if you’re buying for a whole family and applying daily. Depending on the recipe you buy and the companies you buy from, making your own sunblock could save you lots of dollars. (That you could spend on other skincare products, let’s be honest.)
Con: It’s hard to know how much protection you’re getting. When you make your sunblock at home, you know it hasn’t been lab-tested and proven to work. Commercial sunscreens have to go through rigorous testing by the FDA to be placed on shelves. So, it’s possible your DIY sunblock isn’t giving you as much protection as you thought.
Pro: You know exactly what you’re putting on (and eventually in) your body. When you make your own sunscreen, you can be sure that you are comfortable with every ingredient in your formula. What you put on your skin ultimately gets absorbed, and traces can end up in your bloodstream – you might as well like what you’re putting on!
Con: Mixing homemade sunscreens can be tricky. The active sun-blocking ingredients, like zinc oxide, are often hard to un-clump in your formula. They naturally stick together, and if you don’t disperse them evenly throughout your sunscreen, it can lead to really patchy coverage. It seems like the best tools to mix your sunscreens are high-speed homogenizers, or other mixers found in labs. This means that, in general, it can be hard to know if your homemade sunblock is protecting you how you’d like it to.
Pro: You could help the environment. Yeah, you read that right. One of the popular ingredients in commercial sunscreens is oxybenzone, which can have serious impacts on coral reef health. Considering that sunscreen is usually slathered on before hitting the ocean, minimizing oxybenzone use could be really helpful to ocean wildlife.
How To Make A DIY Sunscreen: Before Tips
So, you’ve decided that DIY sunscreen is the solution for you. You’re on your way to natural sun protection, but there are a few important things to note.
Firstly, the sunscreen recipe you use should contain either zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. Both of these are powerful minerals that make a physical barrier against UVA and UVB rays. Mineral sunscreens can be tricky, as it can be hard to determine the SPF based on the ingredients alone. In general, the percent of zinc oxide in the formula amounts to the SPF that sunscreen provides. (i.e. 20 percent zinc oxide is 20 SPF).
One really important note: how you mix up your sunscreen is vital to its effectiveness. If the mineral ingredient isn’t suspended evenly throughout the product, you’ll have patchy coverage that could result in some funky tan lines.
If you take your time to find the right formula for your skin, then you should be good to go! Below are 3 basic recipes for homemade sunscreen that shouldn’t be too tough to follow.
3 DIY Sunscreen Recipes
You should always start with your skin type when experimenting with new products. Homemade sunscreens are no different. Whether you have sensitive skin, damaged skin or normal skin, here are three DIY sunscreen recipes that will get you started.
1. Rose Sunscreen For Sensitive Skin
This sunscreen is made with sensitive skin in mind – if you want to make it even simpler, leave out the rose oil. You should end up with a gentle homemade sunscreen with ingredients you can trust.
- 90 grams coconut oil
- 65 grams jojoba oil
- 27.5 grams organic shea butter
- 28.5 grams beeswax pastilles
- 30 grams non-nano zinc oxide
- ½ teaspoon vitamin E
- 50 drops rose oil
Step 1: Mix oils, butter and wax in a double boiler, warming on low heat until it’s all melted.
Step 2: Remove from heat and add zinc, vitamin E and essential oil. Whisk well until smooth.
Step 3: Allow mixture to cool and re-stir if zinc has settled to the bottom.
Step 4: Pour into desired container and use!
2. Aloe Vera Sunscreen For Damaged Skin
Everyone knows aloe vera is great for after-sun care, but it’s also a major part of this sunscreen recipe. Soothe your skin and protect from burns with this easy recipe.
- ¼ cup coconut oil
- 2 (or more) tablespoons of zinc oxide
- ¼ cup pure aloe vera gel
- 25 drops walnut extract oil
- 1 cup of shea butter
Step 1: Combine all ingredients but zinc oxide and aloe vera in a saucepan, melting on medium heat.
Step 2: Let cool and stir in aloe vera gel.
Step 3: When completely cool, add zinc oxide and mix thoroughly.
Step 4: Store in a glass jar and keep in a cool, dry location.
3. Simple 3-Ingredient Recipe for Normal Skin
Don’t have a lot of time on your hands, but want to take care of your skin? This recipe uses your favourite lotion as a shortcut to make the base of the sunscreen. You should choose a lotion that doesn’t soak in too fast, so you can apply it evenly.
And if you want to avoid the white streaks zinc oxide can leave, add in a touch of cocoa powder to give your sunscreen a tint.
- 4 ounces of your favorite non-toxic lotion (Aveeno works great!)
- 0.8 ounces of zinc oxide (results in around 20 SPF)
- 12 drops of carrot seed oil
Step 1: Mix ingredients thoroughly in a bowl.
Step 2: Put lotion into a jar or squeeze bottle and enjoy!
Final Thoughts On DIY Sunscreen
Caring for your skin properly can be tricky, but making your own sunscreen might be right for you if you have super-sensitive skin or just want to get rid of heavy chemicals in your routine. It might take a little experimentation, but homemade sunscreen is a natural alternative that might be just what you’re looking for. And when or if you’re ready, DIY your entire routine with this list.
How did your sunscreen turn out? @kiseu