Instructables
Picture of 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!



 
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Step 1: Materials

Picture of 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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Does it actually work I have a brother who burns sooo easily I want to make sure he's protected
PrimeBore5312 months ago

this must be spf50+

tsbeanie4 months ago

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

jagirl5 months ago

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

Ramireex1 year ago
Does anybody know how to mix the "Coppertone" fragrance? If I oculd add that fragrance, then the sunscreen would be perfect-a-mundo.
Kisu Usagi1 year ago
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 :)
shazni2 years ago
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 :-)
lesizz shazni2 years ago
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
shazni lesizz2 years ago
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!
I tried a recipe very similar to this that I adapted from a few sites, including this one. I must say, I was pleasantly surprised! The homemade sunscreen works really well, and I'm not worried about crazy chemicals that might be in it! My recipe is a little different - I put some green tea in it and some Aloe Vera. Also I found out that it helps sunburn too!! Here's the recipe I used -
http://mothernaturesmaid.wordpress.com/2012/06/07/whats-your-spf/

Thanks for the tips!!!!
lostandlau5 years ago
I recently had a VERY bad reaction when wearing bergamot in the sun. After a little research, it turns out that essential oils from the citrus family photosensitize the skin - especially bergamot, lime and bitter orange. Apparently though, if the oil is highly diluted the risk is largely negated. I wouldn't risk it though! My skin reaction was so severe, it's taken over a month for it to heal.
ditto to lostandlau info

I was going to post the same thing about using orange oil- as it is photosensitizing. Yes, same amounts may be safer but it counterintuitive to add something photosensitizing to a sunscreen. While sweet orange is not, there is concern that one may not ensure sweet orange is used.
Also, all citrus oils should be avoided for those with sensitive skin.

Love essential oils but perhaps a warning to research which oils are least irritating. And always safest to avoid any essential oils on babies.
I buy a bergaptene free bergamot that reduces the risk of photosensitization from camdengrey.com to use in my skincare products, so i do not have to work about avoiding sun exposure.
Good point. I hope everybody takes note of this. Apparently, a popular perfume of the 70s was Shalimar, and someone in my family had a story about a terribly burned neck, where she had applied it. Thanks for sharing this warning lostandlau
Roxanne_b2 years ago
Thank you for this instructable I'm very excited to try it!!

However I'm very confused . . . is the percentage the percentage of the lotion? so for example use 25% of the overall weight of the lotion zinc oxide and that would be SPF 20?
misatosato2 years ago
hi. thanks for this recipe! Might anyone know a UK-based shop where I can get Zinc Oxide from?
diymom142 years ago
Hi I was wondering if there's a way to make the lotion last longer than 3 months. Thanks for the recipe though. :)
Jax695 years ago
I've been wanting to create my own Sunscreen, so this recipe sounds great. Wanted to know a couple of things. If I wanted SPF30+, I work outdoors and have been using the Sport brands of sunscreen, what would the mixture be? For scents instead of using scented oils, I'm a guy so smelling like an orange or strawberry doesn't really make me comfortable though smelling like a coconut doesn't bother me (go figure), anyways can I add my favorite cologne instead or does that mess up the chemical reactions? Otherwise I really want to try this Sunscreen.
there is no need for SPF 30 because SPF15 sunscreen blocks about 93% of UVB rays, SPF30 sunscreen blocks about 97% of UVB rays and an SPF50 blocks 98% of UVB rays. So SPF30 sunscreen does not give you twice the protection of SPF15 sunscreen! And an SPF50 sunscreen is only 1% more effective than an SPF30 sunscreen. In fact, the FDA (the US agency that governs drugs like sunscreens) does not allow any sunscreen to be labeled as anything higher than SPF30+ because they know that higher SPF sunscreens do not offer significantly greater protection, and that such products are misleading to consumers. Currently any sunscreen labeled with and SPF greater than 30 (or without a 'Drug Facts' label) is 'misbranded' under Section 502 of the Federal Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act
Dr. Hanan
Actually, I'm a 100% white guy (a "1" on the scale of whiteness - the standard by which all other whiteness is measured) and I burn very quickly with anything less than SPF 50. I've been described as "translucent" - lol. While SPF 30 may be enough for most people, some people with very fair skin need a lot more protection because most fair-skinned people don't have much natural protection in the form of melanin . In *theory* SPF 15 is fine - but in practice - not for everyone. I've actually gotten pretty burned on a rainy day - lol. Strange but true.... The only downside to mixing your own sunscreen that I can see is the lack of sweat-resistance - but for day-to-day exposure, this is great!
That's because of the amount used, when higher the SPF, higher the amount of sunscreen/sunblock ingredient used. It's like you're completely coating your skin in such ingredient. I would recommend you definitely should use a zinc oxide based sunblock if you're not using it, it forms a coat on your skin that's even visible, that's why many people complains that physical sunblocks leave a white cast on their skin, but surely you, with your pale skin won't have that problem, and it blocks the rays, won't absorb them like sunscreen does, so it definitely works much better at protecting.
I'm like you, I need extremely high SPF. I've finally, in the past few years, taken to wearing a shirt over my bathing suit, even in the pool and ocean. It's the only way I don't burn!
Actually, SPF30 _does_ give you twice the protection. With SPF15, you get 1/15 the UV of no sunscreen (blocks 14/15, lets 1/15 through). ~93% is 14/15, and the ~7% remaining is the 1/15 that's allowed through. With SPF30, 29//30 is blocked and 1/30 of the UV is allowed through. SPF15 allows 2/30 (1/15) through, so, yes, SPF30 allows half the UV through that SPF15 does. Does it block twice as much? No. But that's misuse of math. What matters with sunscreen is how much it allows _through_. SPF15 lets twice as much UV get to your skin as SPF30. With SPF50, only 1/50 of the original rays are allowed through, meaning SPF50 will allow you to stay out over three times as long as SPF15 for a given UV dose.
@jsw, anyway, the point is that no SPF can fully block the UV rays and the difference of protection between an SPF30 and an SPF50 is actually minimal, it will always allow some amount of radiation through. So I do also consider that "SPF50" stuff as misleading, because people do actually believe that when higher the SPF, better the protection, and they can go under the sun as much as they want because they're "well protected" and that's just not true. What they don't know, is that not only a sunscreen needs to be reapplied frequently to really be well protected, but that also IS necessary to be out of sun as much as possible because any SPF will allow at least a small amount of UV radiation to pass through, and it will definitely accumulate during all that time they're under the sun, causing obvious skin problems. If not properly covered from the sun, not even an SPF100 can do that job.
One of the big lotion manufacturers (maybe Aveeno?) just started advertising SPF 100...
somallon Jax695 years ago
Hi Jax69. I am no expert but it appears to me that if you up-specked the ingredients you would get spf 30+. that being said, i don't know how much would be too much.. (could you make spf 400+ ) As for the cologne, my thinking is that you could scent it with any thing you liked, but the alcohol/solvent base in the cologne might be too harsh for your facial skin (more sensitive) cheers, good luck.
fbrites2 years ago
A recent study shows that titanium dioxide powder can be harmful. Although harmless in the lotion, the powder can be inhaled and if so, penetrate the brain-blood barrier. http://www.environmentalhealthnews.org/ehs/newscience/nanoparticles-damage-brain-cells/

So I'd deal with zinc oxide instead.
One should also keep in mind that sunblocks do not only contain UV reflecting substances, but UV absorbing organic compounds as well, so I'd avoid sunlight exposure, actually, and wear the sunscreens from the drugstore, really.
That's ridiculous. How can you recommend using sunscreen from the drugstore. Who says they're better? There are studies that prove actually that no chemist-made sunscreen agent has better UVA-UVB protection than zinc oxide. Most people already know that titanium dioxide is harmful and not just that, also, that creates free radicals when exposed to UV radiation, I even figured out this because I read everywhere from people that wanted to avoid titanium dioxide as much as possible and I was curious why, so I did some research. So, tell your ignorance, that because sunblocks containing titanium dioxide can be harmful, won't mean that chemical sunscreens are better. I'd rather to deal with a titanium dioxide sunblock coated with silica, that prevents the reaction of it with UV radiation, than dealing with a chemical sunscreen full of gross stuff in it that actually can harm more than prevent.
The best stuff one can use is zinc based only sunblock, and preferably with nice all-natural ingredients, like the Badger ones.
sqirrel2 years ago
when I use sunscreen with zinc I cant get it off for days, I get tons of pimples, and i cant even run my hand through my hair without it getting stuck. I'd really appreciate any suggestions on how to wash it off or on another natural ingredient that would work as well as the zinc.
I loved finding this instructable because it had never occured to me that anyone can make their own.THANK YOU!
Deonis3 years ago
I found this post very interesting and scientifically correct, but I would advise to use ZnO rather than TiO2 because Zn is essential element in enzymes which are responsible for repairing skin wounds and synthesis of calogen. Keep up with good work...

PhD in chemistry
bluemoon63 years ago
years ago --I worked in a health food store and we sold --para-aminobenzoic acid in a tube for sun block--its a B vitamin if I remember right and it really worked for people--back then they just put it on their noses---LOL!!!
athyme3 years ago
If you are looking for Zinc and Titanium oxide I sell it at my shop Called Apothecary in Thyme 2531 Broadway #D1 Everett, WA 98201 425-252-6533 I do mail things out UPS and Fedex and USPS so give me a call if you are in the need
Does this one turn rancid? Looking to make a lotion that does not have to be refrigerated. Please help me out with the ration on the zinc also...I will be making 8 oz bottles. I stink at math!!!! Help!!! Thanks!!!
SinAmos5 years ago
I'm not going to do it. I don't believe in sunscreen.
trialex SinAmos5 years ago
Are you saying you don't believe that sunscreen prevents cancer, or do you not believe that the sun causes cancer? I don't know where you live or your ethnicity, but here in Australia, using sunscreen is the NORM for the summer months. We have a whole generation of caucasian people now facing melanoma (a skin cancer) who didn't believe in using suncreen during the 50s/60s/70s.
Just read about the ban in UK for teenagers to use the sunbeds. Not the same thing, but obviously these are serious things and the damage is irreversible!

http://www.dermundo.com/www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-12998030

In addition to using the sunscreen lotion, our kids wear Nammu swimming hats (protective while swim), and also when the Sun is really strong, the UV protective t-shirts. Better safe than sorry! I will try the recipe and make my own sunscreen! Strongly believe in it, and thanks for the instructable!
johnm62 SinAmos5 years ago
I agree I think the sunscreens cause more harm than good.
Unfortunately, you are wrong. Proper, quality sunscreen is highly recommended by physicians. Unless you are allergic to an ingredient in the sunscreen, there is no harm, only good. If you are allergic, talk to your physician and they will help you find a version on the market which will work for your skin. Skin cancer is a serious problem, and the best solution is proper protection. While clothing and shade are good, people looking to be active out in the sun will find these encumbering, and a good sunscreen is just the ticket. Even still, sunscreen is recommended along with clothing cover and shade. Don't be silly. Wear your sunscreen.
You mean western doctors? Chemicals on the skin are an irritant and cause for many cancers. Wait, you didn't know that? I know one thing most people don't and that is that cancer is caused by a lot of thing, but mostly chemicals that are unnatural and cause unnatural immune responses. All cancer is a cell with its switch turning on. That is it. Anyway, moderation of anything, including the sun, but you also need that sunlight for proper health. So, no, sunscreen isn't necessary, unless of course you abuse the sun like you abuse your body by stuffing it with chemically preserved foods and unhealthy fats. Don't be silly. Common consensus doesn't work everyone, considering we are all completely different.
Most people know cancer is caused by many products in their lives. In fact, many people, like you, over-react about it all the time. There are serious issues out there regarding carcinogens in our daily lives, but you're confusing the issue.

Sunscreen is good and healthy. However, that is not to be misread as "all sunscreen." Chemical sunscreen is a serious health concern. More info here:
http://www.skinbiology.com/toxicsunscreens.html

But western or eastern, physicians recommend proper protection from UV rays, whether it be wearing clothing, staying in the shade, utilizing coconut oil, or finding the proper sunscreen. I mentioned talking to your doctor about it. Some healthy products are mentioned on that same site:
http://skinbiology.com/suntanningoptions.html

Overexposure to sun causes cancer. Chemical sunscreens cause cancer. So many things in our lives cause cancer. General consensus shouldn't always be trusted, as people have been fed mass misinformation for generations. However, there's a difference between being cautious and being paranoid. Do your research.

On a lighter note, here's a useful comic to help teach people about cancer:
http://www.phdcomics.com/comics.php?f=1162
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