Introduction: Sun & Bug Lotion: One Simple Solution

Picture of Sun & Bug Lotion: One Simple Solution

Why should you cover yourself in sunscreen then bug spray when one cream could do it all? Why buy expensive products when it's so easy, fun and cheap to make your own?
This recipe makes a lotion which feels light, spreads easily and is not greasy at all. The smell is actually pleasant, and it works really well against insects AND the sun. I can't give a precise SPF value -- that depends not only on how thickly it is spread on, but also the strength of the various ingredients which contribute to the SPF varies from batch to batch. Anyway the SPF value does not have much concrete meaning.... What I can say is that a few weekends ago I took my family to watch Prince Harry play polo on Governor's Island for an hour under a punishing sun, and none of us got burnt or bitten. Other spectators were not so lucky....
Thanks to Scoochmaroo for inspiring me to publish this. Her sunscreen is quite different from this one (very thick and stiff -- but also a whole lot less complicated) so I though it worthwhile to offer this alternative.

Step 1: On Sunscreens

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Sun rays, just like any other type of waves (water, sound, etc) come in different lengths. The short ones are called UVB. These are the waves which give you sunburns, and, on the positive side, prompt skin to produce the vitamin D we all need. SPF ratings on commercial sunscreens measure the cream's ability to block these waves, and these waves only. It indicates roughly how much more time you can spend in the sun before burning, but it tells you nothing about your protection against UVA rays.

UVA rays are much longer waves, and therefore they penetrate deeper into the skin. These are the rays responsible for the telltale signs of aging, and also for the #1 killer skin cancer, melanoma.

Some ingredients, such as zinc and titanium oxide provide "broad spectrum" protection, which means they block both UVB and UVA rays. These chemicals protect the skin by deflecting and diffusing the waves, but their drawback is that they make skin white when they are first applied. To counter this manufacturers have developed nano zinc and titanium particles which don't make you turn white. Unfortunately, since they are so tiny, they can penetrate into the bloodstream, where the damage they could wreck has not been studied. Unless you want to be part of a long term, unpaid, unmonitored medical study, avoid nano particles. Don't be so lazy and vain. Take a minute to rub in the regular zinc oxide, after a while you won't look like a zombie. I avoid titanium dioxide because it is carcinogenic (for sure on mice, possibly for us too) -- so why take the unnecessary risk when zinc does the job just as well?

Step 2: Ingredients and Where to Find Them

Picture of Ingredients and Where to Find Them

Water mix:
1/3 cup witch hazel (or 5 tbsp if you do not use coffee)
2 tsp fresh coffee grounds (optional)

Oil mix:
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 1/4 tsp ewax
1/2 tsp Neem oil
1/2 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp cocoa powder (optional)

Powder mix:
1 tbsp zinc oxide (quantity can be doubled for extra protection)
1 small pinch xanthan gum (do NOT omit)
1/2 tsp turmeric (optional)

1/4 tsp vitamin E
1/4 tsp essential oils (combination of citronella, eucalyptus and lavender, but pennyroyal and peppermint can be used too)

Note on ingredients:
Coconut oil, sesame oil, vitamin E, zinc and turmeric are all "sun" ingredients. Turmeric (a yellow spice you'll find in any supermarket) was used as a cure all in Ayurvedic medicine, but since those guys also believed diseases were caused by demons and that you can wish yourself not to age, I included it here for other reasons: #1 color. I prefer to look sickly yellow rather than zombie white (the coffee and cocoa are also here to improve the color). #2 according to wikipedia turmeric is used in sunscreens and to protect foods from sunlight. If it keeps a pickle nice and firm, hey, maybe it'll keep me from getting flabby! Now I'll just close my eyes and wish for eternal youth...

Neem oil, witch hazel and the essential oils are the bug ingredients. Neem is a potent, dark oil which in this diluted form is safe (and good for) your skin, but it should be avoided during pregnancy. Neem has a distinctive smell somewhere between garlic and peanuts. Unpleasant at first, but it grows on you. It's kind of comforting, like the smell of farts under bed covers.

Xanthan gum is necessary for three reasons: it thickens the lotion so it will not run all over when you try to apply it. It stabilizes the emulsion (keeps the water from separating), and it keeps the zinc oxide suspended in the lotion. Don't be fooled by the small quantity required: you need it.

Ewax is another crucial ingredient. The E stands for emulsifying, and it's purpose is to blend the oil and water into a smooth, stable cream (you might find it under the name "emulsifying wax NF" in online stores. It comes in white, waxy flakes which are easy to measure and melt. It is not considered "all natural" because it is composed of a blend of cetearyl alcohol and polysorbate 60.

Soap Goods supplies all the above ingredients and it might be easiest just to order everything from them, but I found my xanthan gum in the vitamin section of my local Fairway for less (however considering the time spent searching, and the cost of transportation, the savings, if any, are negligible). I would definitely buy the witch hazel from a local pharmacy, and the coconut and sesame oils from a grocery store because they are widely available and heavy to ship.

Step 3: Mixing and Bottling

Picture of Mixing and Bottling

In a double boiler slowly heat the oil mix till all ingredients are melted and well blended. In a separate container warm the witch hazel with the coffee.

Meanwhile sift the powder mix together.

Remove the witch hazel mix from heat. If you used coffee pass the liquid through a paper filter and add an extra tablespoon of witch hazel.

Slowly drip the oil mix into the witch hazel, blending with a fork or milk frother till all the oil is mixed in and emulsified.

Blend in the powder mix, then the additives.

Step 4: Use and Warnings

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According to recent research, the best way to apply sunscreen is liberally 15 to 30 minutes before going out in the sun, then again about 15 to 20 minutes after sun exposure began. After that sunscreen should be reapplied after it has rubbed off (for example after swimming, toweling or sweating). I suspect, that this 15 to 30 minutes prior to exposure rule applies to sunscreens with chemicals that absorb the sun rays rather than those, like zinc oxide, which diffuse and refract them. This type of cream should work the minute it is applied.

I once came across a ridiculous web page written by the Soap and Detergent Association, clearly on the defensive about the rise of DYI -- but one point they made about labeling really does make sense. It is dangerous to have ANY sort of chemical product mislabeled in a recycled container. It is important not only to remove the old labels but also to put on your own, preferably with a detailed list of all the ingredients and first aid instructions in case of accidental misuse. So if you try out my recipe, please print the attached PDF file and use the label (or design your own if mine isn't colorful enough -- I designed mine to look as dull at the real ones).

Warning for people with allergies or sensitive skin: do a patch test before slathering this on. It is quite possible that you would tolerate Deet much better than this -- after all, the vast majority of allergens are 100% natural, 100% organic. Think pollen, dander, nuts, strawberries, mildew.... To test individual ingredients, mix them with something you won't react to (like good old synthetic vaseline) in a concentration roughly equivalent to the concentration in the recipe (1 drop of essential oil mixed with 1/2 tsp mineral oil or vaseline, for example) and dab that in the crock of your arm. For extra peace of mind, do this every day for 2 weeks to make sure you will not become sensitized over time.

A final note on longevity -- it is impossible to give a definite shelf life time frame because too many factors are in play. The first and most important factor is how well all the containers, tools and fingers which come into contact with the product have been sanitized. Ideally, dunk everything (except for fingers) in a pot of simmering water for 15 minutes. That's how I do it when I make jam, but it's not always practical for lotions (the recycled PET containers I use tend to get deformed at those temperatures...). Just clean everything as best you can. Another factor is how fresh your ingredients are. Still another, what ingredients you choose (my coffee/cocoa version, for example, might have a shorter shelf life than the version using straight witch hazel). Finally, whatever spore is floating around in the air or organism is living on your fingertips when you open the bottle might jump in and start a thriving colony.... This is why I usually make small batches or use preservatives. That's right. There's nothing wrong with adding a small quantify of preservatives, in fact, I highly recommend it if you are making any lotion as a gift. I have used Liquid Germall Plus, a paraben free preservative which seems to work quite well. All you need is 0.1 to 0.5% of the total weight, which translates for this recipe to about 3 drops.

Step 5: A Note on the Cost

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This cream cost me $1.25. For each ingredient I determined the cost for one gram (including tax and/or shipping), then weighed everything and did some 2nd grade math. Obviously if you need to buy all the ingredients then only make this recipe once and never use your supplies again this will be a VERY expensive bottle... but I'm planning on publishing other instructables which use some of the same ingredients, so stay tuned in case you might want to branch out and make a quick and easy plant spray, flea shampoo for your dog, or marshmallows.

To see what other projects I'm cooking up, check out my blog,


PeterU84 (author)2016-12-06

Probably change "suncreen" to "sunblock".

belsey (author)PeterU842016-12-06

Yes, technically, according to that article, this would be sunblock. But I'd hesitate to use the term for (admittedly) subjective reasons. "Sunblock" feels much stronger and robust than "sunscreen" and I wouldn't want anyone to use this sunBLOCK and become complacent about too much exposure...

M.J.J (author)2016-07-24

Very interesting and inspirational. Would agar agar work as a substitute for ewax? I buy the flakes, boil them up, strain it, store ti, covered, in the frig and strain again before using it. Sometimes I reboil it if I'm using some of the water along with the resulting gel, maybe that's just to comfort me that I'm killing any bacteria from my kitchen?

belsey (author)M.J.J2016-07-24

I've used Agar Agar in my vegan egg recipe, but I've never tried it in a lotion. It will make a good gel with a water solution, but I don't know how good it is at emulsifying oil and water -- that's what the Ewax is doing, in addition to thickening the cream. You 'll just have to give it a shot! And post a comment with your results!

msdrpepper (author)2016-07-10

Wow, very nice Instructables. I have read that coconut oil, by itself as a sunscreen, is considered about a SPF of 5, so would need to be applied more often. I use it a lot myself.

I've seen some natural products using grapefruit oils for preservative.

There is a lady in Okla who makes an "everything balm" with lots of Essential Oils and she is also a chemist by education and occupation, before she took out time to raise and homeschool her kids. She was telling me (I met her in person selling her products at a crafts type show) that water in an ingredient was the quickest thing to be contaminated and to spoil - causing product to go bad. So I started paying attention to "natural " products and won't buy them if it contains water. Now, her product wasn't intended as sunscreen or bug repellent but more for soothing skin, but I think it is interesting that her product uses some of same ingredients as yours.

Not ready to make today but I am definitely interested in accumulating some of the ingredients I don't yet have like the not-nano-chunky-zinc and ewax.

Another product I have makes no claims about repelling mosquitos but instead, "gnats and annoying flies", and it uses geranium, peppermint, lemongrass, and clove oil (clove does need to be mixed in with a diluting oil because it can burn skin.).

So I am gonna bookmark this as I am inspired to make this for me!! Thanks for sharing!

Adaknits (author)msdrpepper2016-07-16

Not sure what you mean by "ewax" - is it the "emulsifying" wax used for soapmaking?

Thanks so much for this instructable! I'm looking forward to making it

belsey (author)Adaknits2016-07-18

Yes, ewax is emulsifying wax

belsey (author)msdrpepper2016-07-10

Glad you like this. Regarding water, it is 100% correct that any formula which contains water will spoil faster than a pure wax/oil combination (aka a balm) -- that's because all living creatures on earth need water to flourish (including bacteria). However water generally improves the "feel" of a product, and also it is needed to be truly moisturizing (a balm will only block moisture loss by evaporation, it does not provide moisture). So I'm not ready to give up on water in my products! But if you want to avoid all preservatives and don't want to keep making small batches of products for yourself than the balms are your best bet.

definingsound (author)msdrpepper2016-07-10

Coconut oil does not block UVB rays; the only broad spectrum oil is raspberry seed oil (spf 20 and hella expensive)

sun1one (author)2016-07-11

Why do you say it's not due to sunscreen? Maybe the higher class didn't tan, but there were plenty of people in the sun. Maybe not full body exposure, but most people these days have skin cancer on the face it seems. I don't know... I still don't like putting nasty ingredients on my skin, and I have read that the palmitate a in sunscreens, is a chemical vitamin a, and your skin with vitamin a on it should not be exposed to the sunlight because it can increase cancer cells.

Katie5757 (author)sun1one2016-07-13

Do you use moisturisers/shower gel/hand wash/shampoo/conditioners? or are you a soap and water person. How is your ozone levels? Do you completely cover yourself outdoors? How are your vitamin D levels?

Life is a toss of the dice....nothing nicer than the feel of sun on bare skin...and a light sun tan....never for me a chemical tan.

Just be sensible I say.....this instructable is interesting....especially in this Zika environment when the mosquitos are but a plane ride away.

bsroon (author)Katie57572016-07-15

No moisturizers, shower gels etc. My soaps are all vegetable based because the US Govt in it's infinite lack of wisdom removed all animal fat soaps from the market - secretly (see the headlines?) because of MAD COW DISEASE possibilities. Of course we know that mad cow (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) ONLY happens to cows that are fed ANIMAL parts and are exposed to some toxic ag chemicals. So it would be unnecessary in a sane world, but our govt is insane.
Ozone? Everyone is probably short. Ozone in nature - the only real stuff - is O3 - not the chemical breakdown that is called pollution. That is off other breakdowns. Ozone can be dangerous above some levels, true, but not in nature. The UV comes through in i think the 200 - 400 nanometer range, splits the O2 we breathe into 2 O(1) atoms - and they bond with another O2 molecule, forming O3. It is supposed to be the blue in the sky, is heavier than air, and sinks - where it will kill any fungi, bacteria, or virus if delivered correctly and in the correct dosage. In sane nations - it is used to kill cancers and infections.

i ranch/farm on a little place in N Calif - so i'm out in the sun all the time. Seems i can't be setting fence until it gets over 110 degrees - unfortunately, that is literally true... That should make D3.

As for Zika - don't worry and for God's sake (and more for yours) DON'T get any Zika vaccines!!! Vaccination as presented is medical retardation - and Zika is just drug pushers faking a danger to get YOUR tax money (how many billions for the developed vax?) from you for them. Rockefeller Foundation (evil, evil people) patented the Zika virus in 47. In it's entire and well known history it has NEVER caused microcephaly. In Columbia last year it was proven to have hit 5,000 people. ZERO microcephaly or neurological cases in there. On the OTHER hand - the area in Brazil where this is happening has a combination of toxic Ag poisons AND MANDATORY DTaP VACCINATION OF PREGNANT WOMEN and the DTaP and TDaP vaccines have a history of neurological damages which inclued rare microcephaly cases but tend to be dominated by spasming, failure to thrive, delayed mental development, etc. when newborns and in-utero infants are involved. The Zika threat is total hype - and the cases in this country WERE IMPORTED to scare you. Brought in from Haiti and elsewhere. Zika makes a mild flu-like fever generally....

belsey (author)bsroon2016-07-15

Though I truly value intelligent and courteous debates with people of differing opinions... I would like to ask you to refrain from starting a whole government conspiracy theory/anti-vaccination rant in this instructable comment section. Besides the fact that this is misinformed, it is completely off topic. This is neither the time nor place... thanks for your understanding!

bsroon (author)2016-07-10

First: Education. Most people aren't aware that skin cancer increased 500% when sunscreen hit the market. There are several reasons.
One: people (who generally live indoors in artificial, unhealthy lighting) thought they were totally protected and went in the sun way too long. Gradually increasing your sun exposure is THE best way to avoid sunburn and damage.

Two: all cancer takes place in a low oxygen environment. Your skin breathes. If you cover your whole skin with something impermeable - you can't get enough oxygen through your lungs alone to survive. Thus - your skin needs to take in oxygen. When the skin is all oiled up, in many instances this makes it impossible for your skin to eliminate poisons from your system through your pores. This can turn your skin into the perfect cancer breeding ground - toxic, low oxygen environment - how can you better damage healthy cells?

A not insignificant side point is that any sunscreen over SPF 6 will stop you from making Vitamin D3 from the LDL cholesterol in your skin. That D3 will prevent over 20 types of cancers - so the sunlight is better for you than sunscreen in general - you just have to hit some balance btwn (minimizing, hopefully) screen and nature.

belsey (author)bsroon2016-07-10

I had never heard about the 500% increase in skin cancer corresponding to sunscreen use... What is your source? I'd be interested to learn more. Were the reasons you gave part of the study or your own conjecture? Because I know skin needs to breathe, but I also know rubbing oil on your skin does not prevent it from doing so (possibly being entirely submerged in a vat of oil WOULD prevent your skin from breathing, but luckily that's not a very common occurrence!). Anyway, I'd be interested in checking out your sources. Thanks!

bsroon (author)belsey2016-07-11

Read "WORLD WITHOUT CANCER" by G Edward Griffin. 2-part book about the science and politics behind laetrile (which works of course). It was the first health food/natural healing sort of book i'd read - in 77, and i was hooked. By 78 i knew things that MDs are just finding out now- because 95% have NO training in biochemistry or nutrition - or at best it resembles their "vaccine training". A short afternoon of what drug pushers tell them about when and how much of the propaganda strain of knowledge is acceptable.

The cancer industry in the 70s went in one day, from "curing" (they actually used the word back then) something like 18% of the cancers to curing 76% of the cancers. They did that by including the skin cancers in their statistics, and at least at that time, most "skin cancers" cleared theirselves up if you sneezed or went on a hot dog diet. (exaggeration to attempt humor/irony) It's a scam - the cancer industry.

Katie5757 (author)bsroon2016-07-15

Of course any disease is the failure of the immune system. I have had some instances of Bowen's disease, which have been "cured" by some topical chemo. It is the melanoma which is the bad skin cancer, ...or maybe by the occasional sneeze.

belsey (author)bsroon2016-07-11

Thanks for taking the time to answer. I had to look up allopathic medicine (which is how homeopaths refer to science-based medicine) and also laetrile (#1 search result had an interesting story about the substance on Quackwatch). To be honest I'm not a huge fan of alternative medicine, even though I will say that when homeopathy started in the late 18th, early 19th century it was arguably much safer than the traditional medicine of the time; the placebo effect it provides was definitely better than the harm caused by bleedings and various medical horrors being practiced then. As a rule I tend to favor large double blind studies over anecdotes, I try not to confuse correlation with causation, and I prefer getting my information from mainstream sources like the WHO, CDC, NYT or NPR. I'm not big on conspiracy theories or talking about "Big Pharma" like it's an evil dictator (it's just a for profit industry which must to be regulated carefully). Nor am I anti GMO (if golden rice can save millions of people from malnutrition and pest resistant crops can eliminate the need to pour tons of pesticides on our crops, I consider that a net positive). Science is not perfect, and what we think today can be proven wrong tomorrow -- but it's the best we've got. All this to say I'll continue using sunscreen and encouraging others to do so too. All things considered I believe it will lower, rather than increase an average person's risk of getting cancer.

bsroon (author)belsey2016-07-11

Just realized - the info about the skin cancer was PROBABLY from the Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients. In the 90s i had about 10,000 hard copy articles on natural healing and "issues" with allopathic medicine - which truly SUCKS. It was all left behind with my CO-OP in N Minnesota and they went under 6 mos after we left.

It might have been in there, because i think the sunscreen fad hit about the 80s, no? That would not put it into the WW/o Cancer book...

That was pre-internet, so i don't know where to look now. i DO KNOW that some health issues are being re-written on the web. For example: the first GMO in this country - an l-tryptophan supplement from Showa Denko pHARMaceutical in Japan (pHARMa - keeping harm large, lol) killed a few over 120 Americans with eisinophilic myalgia syndrome - EMS. Over the years the number has been cut to 90 some, then 70 something by the early 2000s. Mid 2000s it was claimed to be in the high 30/low 40s, around 2010 it was claimed to be about 20some people killed.....

KJTrucks (author)bsroon2016-07-12

Rubbing a chemical laden lotion onto your skin and then going out into the sun for hours and 'baking' it into your skin is a sure-fire way of asking for trouble.

belsey (author)KJTrucks2016-07-12

I admit I do not share your low opinion of chemicals... I consume huge amounts of H2O daily, I sprinkle small amounts of NaCl on most of the food I eat, and on a few occasions I've even swallowed a thin sheet of Au on a piece of chocolate. Chemicals are the best! Baking in the sun without them can be harmful in both the short and long term -- but as the saying goes, "pick your poison." Go for the sunburn instead of covering your skin with ZnO, if that really makes you feel safer.

KJTrucks (author)belsey2016-07-12

You're annoying. Zink isn't the problem. There are sunscreens made without the 'garbage' chemicals. I'd rather not poison myself.

belsey (author)KJTrucks2016-07-12

I apologize, I did not mean to be annoying. I was trying to point out in a light-hearted way that chemicals are not poison. And since you commented on a recipe which contains only zinc as the main active ingredient, I assumed (erroneously) that was the chemical you were referring to. My bad!

yellowcatt (author)bsroon2016-07-10

You are correct about brief intense exposure to to the sun being a problem, I avoid direct sun if I can.

I am not convinced that low oxygen is a cause of cancer, rather tumours produce their own hypoxic environments.

As a tumour grows, it rapidly outgrows its blood supply, leaving portions
of the tumour with regions where the oxygen concentration is
significantly lower than in healthy tissues.

It is a matter of avoiding too much intense sunlight while getting enough to allow vitamin D synthesis.

bsroon (author)yellowcatt2016-07-11

Dr Otto Warburg received a Nobel Prize for Medicine for proving that hemoglobin - in a dead enzyme diet (all cooked, etc so today think nukes) increases in size from 4 micron to 7 microns. This makes it impossible to enter many cells - which become cancerous frequently. He figured this out in 1931.
There are many modalities by which tumors become anaerobic - bad EFAs making for horribly unhealthy phoshpolipic cell walls for example. (hydrogenated fats, commercial vegetable fats...) The cell wall does not let oxygen and nutrients in effectively and intracellular material leaks out. DNA/RNA no longer replicate as mitochondria stop their ADP/ATP cycling....
Could be a build up of toxins, or toxins which are apoptic to human cells, like the "inert" ingredients in Roundup which we can get in our food at lower than "approved" levels. (polyethoxylated tallowamine POE-15 at 1 and 3 ppm)
There was a study in Australia, and the people with the lowest skin cancer rates were the lifeguards. When we take light in through our eyes - that literally changes the hormones our body produces. Check out Dr Melvin Ott - interesting character. Was a banker whose desk light went out, and only small fluorescent bulb they could get was PINK, lol. The plant started growing AWAY from that light...he was intrigued...

yellowcatt (author)bsroon2016-07-11

Sorry, you are going to have to cite your sources, much of what you say is far from accurate or up to date with current molecular biology.

Can provide any reputable journal references to support your claims?

bsroon (author)yellowcatt2016-07-11

Current knowledge about cancerous tumors indicates that they start from undifferentiated placental cell islands - stem cells. The anaerobic environment kills off the natural cells, and there is not enough oxygen to perform the natural function of those cells - so the stem cells can NOT do oxygen based biochemistry as ideally performed. The only fuel they then have available is carbohydrates - sugars if you will - and they ferment those sugars, becoming like a yeast/fermentation variant.
Through angiogenesis, they do oxygenate theirselves, but if high levels of Oxygen are available it's found that cells "revert" to their real function - ie - lung cancer cells become lung cells, etc. The circulatory system of the tumors is not controlled by the autonomous nervous system like your natural vascular system. This is why thermography works - when COLD air is blown across the mammary, the autonomous system constricts the natural blood flow to retain your heat inside your core. The angiogenesis CANNOT SLOW BLOOD FLOW and so these tumors are visible as heat in a thermography scan. Lower false positives than mammograms AND the side benefit of not zapping someone with carcinogenic radiation.
The undifferentiated placental cell islands are ALL OVER the body for repair purposes and theoretically could healthily repliate our dead/dying cell tissues of any type. Pretty cool design - too bad modern society keeps throwing monkey wrenches at it...

yellowcatt (author)bsroon2016-07-11

That is not correct, cancer is known to be the result of genetic damage to cells.

It takes a build up of several mutations for a cell to become cancerous, the Warburg effect is considered a result of these mutations rather than the cause.

Quote from The Molecular Biology of Cancer by John S Bertram

"The process by which normal cells become progressively transformed to
malignancy is now known to require the sequential acquisition of
mutations which arise as a consequence of damage to the genome. This
damage can be the result of endogenous processes such as errors in
replication of DNA, the intrinsic chemical instability of certain DNA
bases or from attack by free radicals generated during metabolism. DNA
damage can also result from interactions with exogenous agents such as
ionizing radiation, UV radiation and chemical carcinogens. Cells have
evolved means to repair such damage, but for various reasons errors
occur and permanent changes in the genome, mutations, are introduced.
Some inactivating mutations occur in genes responsible for maintaining
genomic integrity facilitating the acquisition of additional mutations."

Understanding the Warburg Effect: The Metabolic Requirements of Cell Proliferation

How do mutated oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes cause cancer?

sun1one (author)bsroon2016-07-11

Also, MOST sunscreens contain vitamin A, which is oxidizes with light, which in turn may cause cancer. The vitamin A in sunscreens is called Palmitate A.

bsroon (author)sun1one2016-07-11

Having never used sunscreen i don't bother looking at the chemicals in it. Is the vitamin A palmitate one of those artificial "analogue" vitamins made by pHARMa? (keeping harm large)
Those are NEVER as efffective as the real vitamins are - so i suspect that nature (or God, whichever way you swing, lol) would make something good for us and necessary for us - to be toxic to us in this regard. Of course using vitamin A externally..... Could be just enough inappropriate usage of something to damage us, no?

Probably put in as a stabilizer or to make it sound healthier...

prickly vegan (author)bsroon2016-07-11

I would like to see data to support these claims, but these points do make a lot of sense. People put on sunblock and act like they are invincible. When I don't use sunblock, I cover up and stay in the shade. If I put on sunblock, I feel a bit more protected and stay in the sun for probably too long. Makes sense that other people would think the same way.

The second point is curious, but also perhaps sound. Most sunblock is full of parabens and copolymers and things I don't understand. These would effectively disallow the skin normal access to oxygen. Perhaps that is why i feel so sweaty when I use sunblock. However, I think implying that oil does the same thing is perhaps false. I do not believe a thin layer of coconut oil on the skin prevents the skin from 'breathing'. I would definitely like to know if it is true, though! The last point about the skin making it's own sunblock, effectively, is interesting. I'd like more info on that as well. Sounds possible, but it would never be enough to keep me from frying!

bsroon (author)prickly vegan2016-07-11

i'm out in the sun for hours every day almost. Ranch life, changing irrigation pipe lines takes about 1.5 hours alone. Working a 2 acre orchard/garden, hand harvesting ancient grains, sitting on a tractor to disk, harrow, mow, bale, etc. Taking care of our hogs, goats.

i am unfamiliar with veganism - and wonder how your body makes the cholesterol. We do, of course, but what precursors does the vegan use? i find it fascinating that 99% of the genetic diversity in the human body is not human - it's the probiotics (and also about 80-90% of our immune system) One reason i find this intriguing is because while our human body is designed to break down animal fats and proteins because the human part of our symbiosis manufactures the bile and enzymes needed for this process, the probiotic colony is the only part of "us" (lol) that can break down the fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, etc - not totally sure about that nuts part though...

Coconut oil is good stuff of course - and my comment was not meant as a "DON'T DO THIS" but more as a think about these things sort of slant. Some people are going to say "i'll just get something that says it's good" - and people need to weigh whether having something block their vitamin D3 is worth it. We need it for so much - and so much more than just cancer protection - we need it for good brain function, heart function, and by getting it in nature we can generally fight SAD - the light disorder which is actually D3 deficiency....

belsey (author)2016-07-15

Funny how the pop-up cards always inspire people in different ways... I've had so many people tell me I should make them life-size (and then tell me I should give them half my profits for their original idea...). You see my designs and think: "3D printing and color!" -- but the reason I am so drawn to OA style pop-ups is because they are so low tech (paper) and pure (no printed image). I love the fact that a whole world can come out of a single completely blank sheet of paper simply by cutting and folding this ancient, wonderful material. That said, of course I use color expressively as well, and I've designed plenty cards with images -- but my favorite are those you seem to find uninteresting and in need of enhancement.

dacarls (author)2016-07-13

Research scientists determine actual chemical structures of mosquito repellents, then synthesize analogs (similar structures), then test them in legitimate bioassays against particular insects in controlled lab tests. This is called "discovery". And that is exactly what was done for DEET, ethylhexanediol, 6,12, and older repellents during World War II.. It was "discovery".

Drugs are discovered the same way.

Lucidcat2 (author)2016-07-12

Good recipe, however I would add a few things. One, definitely, anytime you make a hydrous lotion, add a preservative such as Germall Plus! Otherwise, you will at best get a week out of your concoction (assuming it's kept in the fridge) before it starts to go off. No, you won't immediately see the fungus growing, but it will be there. Since you are using both a liquid (witch hazel) & food items (cocoa, turmeric and/or coffee grounds) you definitely have a breeding ground for all sorts of bacteria. Also, if you can't boil your containers and the tools you'll be using to make your cream, then rinse them well with rubbing alcohol before you start.

Your recipe will be entirely more accurate if you measure the ingredients by weight rather than volume. You'll also have better success at repeating the same recipe if you measure by weight. Obviously for this recipe grams would be best. It's also best to heat and hold your oils for a minimum of 20 minutes to ensure the oils blend/lessen the chance of separation later.

I have worked with neem oil before, it can be fantastic for some skin conditions, however, alot of people do develop sensitivity to it over time so be careful. I have made a cream and a soap with the neem for a relative with eczema and she's had excellent results, however the last batch of soap I made really irritated my lungs, (caused serious wheezing) so I don't use it any more. But, yes, it can also be a great bug repellent.

And finally, make sure your lotion has cooled down to below 30C prior to adding essential oils and preservative as the heat can destroy the beneficial properties of these ingredients. Use the preservative at whatever percentage is recommended by the manufacturer as they tend to vary depending on which one you use. Also, as a side note, Vit E is not a preservative, it's an antioxidant.

I have made my own sunscreen and had success although to avoid the need for the use of preservatives, I make an anhydrous product and pour it into deodorant stick type containers (I use new containers every time, never previously used). That being said, most professionals (from diyers to scientists) strongly (often passionately) urge people from diy sunscreens as there is no way to determine the strength of any given batch unless tested in a lab. I prefer making my own, but, am aware that each new batch can have a different strength & carefully monitor my skin's reaction for the first week or so, keeping in mind that a burn can show up even hours after sun exposure, so, start off with short bursts and check your skin each evening. Be generous with each application too, at about $1.25/bottle, you can definitely afford to!

One last note. Research the essential oils you plan to use. Citronella can cause increased heart rate, pennyroyal can cause liver and/or kidney damage with repeated use. Many eo's are not recommended for children or pregnant/nursing women (peppermint eo for instance can decrease milk supply & eo's that are deemed safe for use in children are used in much more diluted forms than for adults). Also be sure that the eo you choose is not phototoxic (citrus eo's are notoriously phototoxic), although none of the ones listed above are known to be. Never put eo's near eyes or mucous membranes. Educate yourself & play safe!

belsey (author)Lucidcat22016-07-12

All good points, some of which are already discussed in the instructable, others which I omitted in an effort to keep things simple and concise -- but still definitely worth mentioning here in the comments... So thank you for listing these additional pointers! I should add that if done properly, this cream does last longer than a week in the fridge, but I made the recipe intentionally small so that it can be used up in a day or two of sun for a family. It will definitely not last all summer though, left in a car's dashboard. Even if you add a preservative it wouldn't survive long with that treatment!

belsey (author)belsey2016-07-12

Oh, and one more point... measuring ingredients by weight rather than volume is absolutely more accurate, easier and also more sanitary (the ingredients come in contact with fewer containers) -- so by all means if you have a small scale use the gram measurements, which are included in the PDF download.

MLenhart (author)2016-07-10

Just a reminder to those with pets: Zinc oxide is poisonous to pets, as are most otc sunscreens you may want to put on your pets with sparse coats.

belsey (author)MLenhart2016-07-10

I did not know that... and since I have a dog who likes to like my legs after I put on my formulations, I'd love to learn more about it. Do you by any chance remember your source?

yellowcatt (author)belsey2016-07-11

This appears to me to be good information:

belsey (author)yellowcatt2016-07-11

Thanks for the link... It's reassuring, actually. It's just like any other substance, if you ingest too much it will make you feel sick. Whatever my dog manages to lick off my legs won't be enough to harm him. Luckily he's still quite hairy (even though I sweep up hair balls daily) so I don't need to slather it all over his body.

MLenhart (author)belsey2016-07-10

just google sun screen for dogs, or zinc oxide and dogs. I have a mostly (hahaha) hairless chihuahua who can burn easily, so I researched it. Every vet blog says zinc oxide can be fatal. Since it is in most human sunscreens, they can't be used for pets. If you have any trouble finding sources, just let me know and I'll send specific websites. :-)

dacarls (author)2016-07-10

I worked 40 years at USDA in the labs where mosquito repellents are discovered and tested for effectiveness and safety. DEET was found in 1954 by USDA entomologists and chemists (like me). There had been continuous testing of more than 25,000 compounds as effective repellents during WWII. DEET has been used safely in billions of doses since then. It is stinky and does melt some plastics but it is effective for 7 hours after a single treatment. Please do not put a quart on your baby: people have done that. DEET was adapted by the US Army because it was 100% effective for 7 hours. A recent publication by University of Florida confirmed these findings, showing again that natural light oils like lemongrass oil are effective for only about 30 minutes. DEET is excellent protection against Zika vectors like Aedes species and Culex species and the Asian Tiger mosquito. Personally, I like using non-stinky 7% picardin, now available in North America. Please do NOT let potential Zika, dengue, or chikungunya vector mosquitoes bite you because you are too careless to use an effective repellent. Please protect your unborn children from horrible microcephaly: sadly, it lasts a very long lifetime.

sun1one (author)dacarls2016-07-11

It is a pesticide. They now know that some diseases like ALS can be from pesticides, and other toxins around us. DEET may not kill you on contact, but it's not totally safe. There are people who can smoke for 40 years and be fine, others not. Why would you argue about this on their person's post. That is rude and inconsiderate. No one asked you to post your opinion, and we all have them. So next time, please keep it to yourself.

dacarls (author)sun1one2016-07-11

I was stating some scientific facts, not opinions. Scientific facts are sometimes at odds with opinion, but this does not change facts. Pregnant women and possibly pregnant women should protect themselves against mosquito bites. If people are out-of-doors and have been exposed to Aedes aegypti or Aedes albopictus mosquito bites there is a good chance they they are carrying the ZIka, dengue, orWest Nile virus. You or your loved one could get it. This is how epidemics occur. Do not allow this to happen.

bprophetable (author)dacarls2016-07-11

Neem soap is used across Africa India South East Asia for household and laundry on a wide scale. It provides is an all day insect repellent at 18 parts per million, especially if your clothes have been washed in it and it reapplying as you sweat during the day.
100,000 years of daily use by billions of people.
Neem soap grey water is a larvicide, just run off the water from washing machine, shower, bath to reuse on plants in the garden that you want to protect from bugs. Use a pump spray for leaves of cherry trees to stop slugs too.
Neem soap is absolutely okay for anyone who is pregnant, just don't eat or drink neem oil.
Tea Tree Oil and Tea Tree Shampoo are highly effective insect repellents.
Lemon Scented Eucalyptus Oil has a very high content of citronella, which is a natural insect repellent.


belsey (author)dacarls2016-07-10

This is why I love Instructables so much... thanks for commenting and sharing your professional experience! I absolutely agree: particularly when the stakes are high (hiking in a tick infested area, planning on getting pregnant (or pregnant) in a Zika infested area, use a "real" repellent and not one based (like this one) on essential oils. Or if you have no choice and you really can't tolerate the stronger chemicals like DEET of picardin, make sure you keep putting on your essential oil based repellent every 30 minutes. And wear long sleeves and pants. You want to be a hard-to-get stink bomb!

sun1one (author)2016-07-11

But there have been cases in the US already.

ChristopherL77 (author)2016-07-10

Zika will not cause microcephaly. The microcephaly is happening because people living in the area where the majority of cases are from, are drinking water that's been treated with a larvicide called pyroproxyfen.

There is no Epidemic of Zika virus causing microcephaly. The only epidemic there is really, is FEAR. The answer is to read everything you can get your hands on the internet and stay informed.

belsey (author)ChristopherL772016-07-11

The trouble with Google University is that the internet will tell you whatever you want to hear. You'll find "proof" that Obama is not a US citizen, that climate change is a hoax... you name it, it's there! However, it is true that the science is evolving and that we are learning more, every day, about how Zika spreads, and how it relates to microcephaly. We definitely don't have all the answers yet, but the latest from scientists, as reported by serious newspapers and media (NYT, NPR), is that Zika does cause microcephaly, and that Zika spreads via mosquitos (and possibly also sex).

About This Instructable




Bio: I am a paper engineer, writer, maker and chemist wannabe. In addition to pop-up cards I design and build furniture, lights, costumes or whatever I ... More »
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