Homemade Sunscreen

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Introduction: Homemade Sunscreen

Make your own sunscreen with this easy recipe.

Sunscreen is intended to shield your skin from harmful UVA and UVB rays. These can cause premature aging, and more tragically, skin cancer. But commercial suncreens often involve more nasty chemicals than necessary.

By making your own sunscreen, you control exactly what goes in!

In response to a lot feedback I've been getting on this Instructabe, I decided to offerr an all natural TD/ZO alternative.  Check it out here!



Step 1: Materials

Essential Ingredients
NOTE: avoid using citrus oils, such as bergamont, orange, lemon or lime. They may cause unpleasant skin reactions when exposed to the sun. They also reduce a sunscreen's effectiveness.


UPDATE:
I recently discovered this great combination of zinc + micronized titanium dioxide.  I consider it to be a safer alternative, as it contains no nanoparticles, and can be used on its own as a powder sunblock!  I don't however have a chart for how the SPF is effected when combining with lotions or other carriers.  

Tools:
In order to prepare your personal sunscreen it is important first to be aware that zinc oxide or titanium dioxide are products that should not be inhaled. Always wear gloves and a mask.



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Step 2: An Easier Recipe

If you want your sunscreen NOW, and you don't want to mess around with making your own lotion, just buy your favorite lotion from the store, and add your zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to that!

This means you can make sunscreen that's sensitive enough to use on delicate skin, or is already your favorite scent or creaminess.

the reason I suggest using a new container rather than the original lotion container, is that unless you can remove every single drop of lotion from the original container, the sunscreen will mix with the non-sunscreened lotion in an unreliable way. It's up to you, but you run the risk of exposing yourself to UVA/UVB with un-sunscreened lotion.

Step 3: Mix Oils and Wax

Measure one ounce of wax into a microwave safe container.
Melt on high heat (approx 1 minute for me).
Add 8oz. oil, and blend well.
Add a few drops of essential oils for scent.


The mixture may need to back in the microwave for a bit if it starts to harden up again.

Step 4: SPF Table

If using the zinc oxide or titanium dioxide separately, use the following table to determine your measurements.
I don't have a chart for using the blended powder, but it starts off with SPF35 on its own.  

For example, 8oz. (weighed) of lotion + .8oz of titanium micronized dioxide (weighed) = SPF20+
The Micronized TD is 10% of the original amount of lotion used (not the finished weight).

If you used 8oz of lotion + .8oz of Micronized ZO, the SPF would be 11-12.

If it's still too confusing, ask!




Concentration of
Sunscreens & SPF
Low
(SPF 2-5)
Moderate
(SPF 6-11)
High
(SPF 12-19)
Ultra High
(SPF >20)
Titanium Dioxide <4 % 8 % 12 % 20 %
Titanium Dioxide, Micronized 2 % 4 % 6 % 10 %
Zinc Oxide 5 % 10 % 15 % 25 %
Zinc Oxide, Micronized 3 % 7.5 % 12 % 20 %




This chart is to provided by my supplier. I can not do any testing internally. Just to be used as a guideline.

Step 5: Add Dry Ingredients

Wearing your gloves and mask, carefully measure zinc oxide or titanium oxide into your blending container (see chart above).

For this recipe, I weighed out .9oz of Micronized TO to make an SPF >20.

Add the wax/oil mixture to the powder.

Blend thoroughly.

Scrape the sides of your mixing bowl and blend some more.

Continue blending until the powder is thoroughly incorporated.

Step 6: Transfer Into Container

Use a silicone spatula to transfer your mixture into a pastry bag or plastic baggie with the corner snipped off.

Squeeze the lotion into your new containers and label.

Apply liberally and frequently!!

Step 7: Disclaimer

These recipes and instructions are for homemade use only.

The concentration of TD/ZO in the lotion is approximated for ease of use. The variations in concentration will still fall within the SPF ranges set forth, and should not cause concern in small batches (approx 8-12oz)

If you want to make and sell a skin care product, you must adhere to the regulations set forth by the location where you conduct your business.

Be aware of the shelf life of products made without preservatives.

The beauty (and simplicity) of making your own product is that you don't have to adhere to the stringent industry guidelines of manufacturing to lengthen the shelf life. Simply make enough to be used within a short period of time.

Click here for wabisabibaby's shelf-life article on what to do to make lotions last about 3 months.

thank you to wabisabibaby for setting forth and inspiring this disclaimer, and for an awesome lotion instructable.

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    131 Comments

    Hello! If my batch of lip balm weighs 64 ounces, how much zinc oxide would I need to add to get an spf of 20? Is their a formula I can use to calculate this? I see I would need 25% zinc to get spa 20 but what is the calculation? Thanks

    3 replies

    Hey Brenda, did you ever figure this out? I'm trying to make an SPF lip balm and am struggling with finding a formula

    Hi--i'm not the author, but in making sunscreen, you calculate by weight. Usually they say that 20% zinc = SPF 20, so you would use a food scale and add ~13 oz by weight of zinc to 64 oz by weight of balm!

    Much appreciated! Now I feel confident I can make this :) thanks!

    "manufacturers have to respect the 25% limit (of titanium dioxide nanoparticles) according to European legislation". (Micronized TD is 15 nanometers in particle size; it is considered a "nano" particle)

    This is an awesome informational tutorial however the lack of response from the author is quite sad . Might as well disabled comments if you'll never reply to any questions from your readers.

    So, sounds like your saying use lotion to zinc oxide 4 to 1 would make spf-20, right?

    I bought some Zinck oxide from our local pharmacy. Is this safe to use?

    I'm about to put in an amazon order for the ingredients I need, but I'm wondering about the thickness of this stuff. Does the beeswax thicken it up enough that it won't turn into straight liquid on a hot sunny day? I'm looking for lotion consistency, not tanning oil consistency.

    Thanks for the recipe!

    1 reply

    With my experence with homemade lotions, this will get thinner as it heats up. you can always melt it back down and add more beeswax to get a thicker product on hot days.

    If I use 2 cups of olive oil, 1 cup of coconut oil, 1 cup of beeswax then how much zinc oxide do I use . I used 8 tbsps. . is this too much?

    I purchased a mineral sunscreen what lists 8% TiO2 as the only active ingredient and the product is labeled spf 25.. why?

    Does it actually work I have a brother who burns sooo easily I want to make sure he's protected

    we have lots of coconut in the area, and can easily extract coconut oil. Can I use it as base/carrier?

    I made it. was so white on the skin.. Gonna try again using less zinc

    Does anybody know how to mix the "Coppertone" fragrance? If I oculd add that fragrance, then the sunscreen would be perfect-a-mundo.

    This is a great instructable! I'm looking at making my own as I am allergic to almost all commercial sunscreens. I was wondering if you know/have any advice about whether a silicone base would work? I use 100% silicone as a moisturiser because it's one of the only things I have found that doesn't irritate my skin. I can't see any reason it wouldn't work as a base and I know that it is in some comercial sunscreens already but I thought I'd see what you have to say about it anyway because you seem to be in the know. I think one of the best things about using silicone as a base would be that you could easily see if the active ingredient is incorporated properly because it starts clear and would become cloudy with the addition of the zinc. I would also expect it to last longer than other bases being a polymer which would be very unlikely to harbour and feed bacteria or other nasties.

    I also wanted to point out that in my research I've found that powder screens are somewhat dangerous because of the likelihood of inhalation. I originally planed to make a powder because it seemed easier and I hate the feeling of putting on greasy sunscreen in the middle of summer but have decided against that because of this health risk.

    Thanks for your time, eagerly awaiting a reply :)

    Is it possible to get like spf 100 or more or how do i get a tpf 100 or more? meaning i don't want to get a tan or a sunburn...my skin is tanned as it is :-)

    2 replies
    user

    Much more important than SPF rating is using the right type of sunscreen and using it wisely. This instructible is right-on in using zinc and titanium dioxide. They are the best sunscreens and they do not lose effectiveness over time. The effectiveness of other sunscreens decays on the shelf, and they lose their effectiveness in time after they are applied. It's also important to apply enough. Use enough so that the white color of the zinc and titanium just barely disappears.
    I'm an endurance cyclist and will sometimes be on the bike from sunrise to sunset, and I won't touch any sunscreen other than zinc/titanium combos. BTW, one of those ingredients is better for UVA, and the other is better for UVB, but I don't remember which is which. Here's more info:
    http://www.oleda.com/oleda_tips/tips.asp?dept=134

    thanks...i will try and find the ingredients and make this...btw...is this water proof? the only time i stay long in the sun is when i take my kids swimming!