Step 2: 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. It 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.

<p>I know this is an old instructable, but being that we are getting into summer here in the USA, it will likely come up in searches here soon.</p><p>A caution needs to be made on the neem oil:</p><p><strong>Cautions:</strong> Neem Oil should not be used directly on the <br>skin and should be diluted into other products before using on the skin. <br> Can irritate the eyes. Avoid using if pregnant as this oil may be an <br>abortifacient. Long term use may damage the liver. For external use <br>only.</p><p>SO- if you are pregnant, skip the neem.</p>
The neem oil in this recipe IS diluted, but the pregnancy warning would be good to add.
DEET may not be as dangerous as some think, but what do you mean the risk is &quot;unproven&quot;? It has been shown to be a potent neurotoxin and already shows up in waters of the Mississippi. Even reading the label is scary, what if I accidentally put my hand to my mouth after touching a DEET coated person? What if I touch something plastic and nasty plasticizers cover my hand? What if only waterless ways of washing are available? But again, it's a risk assessment. Even EWG is aware that there may be situations such as tick infested paths or malaria were DEET would have to be an option.
I don't think this has been asked yet: Is this sunscreen very comedogenic? My skin is dry, pale, and acne-prone, but I've found commercial sunscreens to be irritating =P
This should be fine, most of the sunscreen effect comes from zinc, which is used for soothing itchy skin (it's an active ingredient in calamine lotion). Just to be sure this won't irritate your skin you can skip the essential oils (which are included to discourage mosquitoes).
Hi, me again :) Could you please tell me an approximate cost and yield for this recipe?
Yield is a smallish bottle, maybe about 8 fluid ounces? I sized it that way because there are no preservatives. If it's a small quantity you can use it up before it goes bad. As for cost, it really depends (see step 5 for more detail).
hey, <br> <br>Thanks for the information, but i'm a lil confused about the water/oil mix part. your instructions say to heat the witch hazel and coffee in the same warm water but different containers. and it goes further to say add the oil mix to the water. <br> <br>i don't know if i'm to turn the heated and strained witch hazel and coffee into the water before adding the oil mixture. if i'm not, then what the point of heating them? <br> <br>i'm new to this, bear with me. <br> <br>Thanks.
Sorry about the confusion: I meant the witch hazel and coffee are combined into one container, and the wax/oil combo are in a second one. You can see this in the photograph. <br> <br>All creams and lotions are emulsions, which means they are a mixture of oil and water. All water soluble ingredients are mixed in one container, all oil soluble ingredients are mixed into a second container. Oil and water don't usually like to mix, so heating them and slowly beating one into the other is the only way to do it. In this case the &quot;water&quot; I referred to is the hot brewed coffee which hazel. <br> <br>I'll try to revise my text to make it more clear, and thanks for commenting.
Hi! I just have a quick question. Does the zinc oxide powder give it that regular sunscreen smell, or do the essential oils mask the smell well enough?
Sorry I didn't see this question sooner -- zinc oxide doesn't have a smell, the odor you're probably thinking of is the chemicals used by most commercial sunscreens (oxybenzone, homosalate, etc). However even if zinc oxide did have a smell the neem and essential oils would definitely mask it.
Is the witch hazel distilled or with the alcohol? Belsey, did you try the lecithin as an emulsifier? Thanks
The one I used was with alcohol. And no, I did not try it with just lecithin and no wax, member dbarrett squires was going to try that.
I just have a quick question about the essential oils part. I have an allergy to citronella, so from my understanding of how your instructions are written, I'm able to use instead a mix of pennyroyal and peppermint? Also just to clarify, would the mix be 1/4 peppermint and 1/4 pennyroyal, or a total of 1/4 of the two together? <br> <br>Thanks for any help!
Yes, you understood correctly, you can use different combinations of oils. In terms of the quantity, all the essential oils combined should come to about 1/4 tsp. You could also try mixing in some geranium, which is also supposed to repel insects and smells really great (a rose kind of smell).
Hi Belsey, <br /> <br />I just had one other question. Are both the sesame and neem oil necessary? Or could I just use a full tsp of neem oil or subsitute the sesame oil with jojoba oil? <br /> <br /> <br />Thanks for any help again!
You can substitute any oil with another -- however keep in mind that these were chosen for a reason. Neem for its bug repellent properties, and sesame because it's supposed to help protect against the sun. Substituting the oils can also change the texture and &quot;feel&quot; of the cream.
Do you think it would be possible to replace the e-wax with lecithin? I have used lecithin in a cream soap before with good results, just not sure how it would react with these ingredients -and don't have a tonne of money to waste testing the theory :-)
Did you end up using the lecithin? And in what form and what quantity if you did?
Lecithin is an emulsifier, so it should help keeping the oil and water together, but I've never tried it on its own without ewax or the beeswax and borax combo. It might work... you result would be less thick, and I don't know how stable the emulsion would be -- but I do know that it would make your skin feel incredibly soft. Lecithin does that. Let me know how it turns out!
You should sell this! Do you possibly have an Etsy shop?
<a href="http://www.etsy.com/shop/makeanything" rel="nofollow">I do</a>, but I neglect it terribly and nothing's for sale there... I'd hesitate to sell this type of item there anyway, because I like avoiding preservatives and occasionally a batch goes bad much sooner than expected: if I've made it for myself it's no big deal I can just throw it out and start over, but that's not so great if I sold it to someone else... Plus for it to be profitable the cream would have to be expensive, and I'd rather make money by helping others save money rather than take advantage of their lack of knowledge....
Great read really informative. One question though. I would like to use the infused version of the oils you mention or even in a tincture... Since I would be using the ewax anyways it should be fine right?
You can infuse the oil or make a tincture using the witch hazel -- as long as you keep the proportion of oil and water soluble ingredients close to those given here you should be just fine. The only difference it could make is that it might shorten the shelf life of your cream.
Is there any way to get a copy of your label without being a Pro member?
Sorry, I didn't see this comment till now... Send me a private message with your email and I will send it to you.
Belsey - <br><br>where do you get your zinc oxide from?
There's a link in step 2
I have a black and white paint mare. Her white areas are actually pink skin. Here in the Florida heat, the horses sweat. As a result, her white hair becomes transparent and I have a black and pink paint mare who is in obvious discomfort. <br> <br>She gets mad when she's stuck in the stall all day away from the other horses and free grazing. I really want to use something like this on her. However, is this formula very greasy? I dont want to be surprised with saddle slippage. I've used regular sunscreens on her before and they sort of work. I was hoping to find some sort of liquid additives I can simply add to flyspray or just in a carrier oil and spray on (not a cream so I dont get horse hair all over my hands). <br> <br>Any thoughts you could maybe share on this please?
Liquid spray sunscreens are usually made with <a href="http://www.snowdriftfarm.com/silicone_use.html">silicone oils</a>. I've never experimented with cyclomethicone, the oil most commonly used in sprays. I'm not sure how well zinc would work in a spray either -- I haven't tried it in that type of formula, and don't remember seeing it as in ingredient in commercial sunscreen spray. So unfortunately, I don't think I'm the best person to advise you on this particular problem.... sorry!
oh man I just tried to post a really long comment but it didn't work -____- anyways, I was just saying that I'm so glad I found your post and had a couple questions!<br><br>-I love using Nutiva's organic, unrefined, cold-pressed coconut oil, which is solid at room temperature. Do you think this e-wax and other ingredients all mixed together with this type of oil will keep it emulsified and from clumping together?<br><br>-which zinc oxide on soapgoods.com do you use? I searched and found two for sale. one says &quot;zinc oxide usp&quot; and the other has &quot;kodax 911&quot; in the description... o_O<br><br>-does the vit. e act as a preservative also?<br><br>-as far as using this at the pool/beach, how often when swimming should I reapply? or is there another type of wax or something like lanolin/vegan alternative I could add to it to make it more water..durable? <br><br>I plan to make my own version of this for everyday use since I'll be moving to Florida next year with some replacements to the bug oils like lavender and geranium but would still like to have a nice reliable batch for when I go swimming. After researching sunblocks(which is how I stumbled upon your post) I just can't find a good brand ...or one that I can afford for regular use since I go swimming a lot !!! Sorry about all the questions.. :3 you just seem like you know what you're talking about :]
Yes, ewax will definitely work with your oil. Just replace any oil in my recipe with the same amount of your coconut oil and you're good to go -- though your cream might end up slightly thicker if the temperature is cool (probably not much of an issue for sunscreen).<br> <br> USP stands for &quot;United State Pharmacopeia&quot; and the Soapgoods website isn't very clear about differentiating which is which -- USP 1 is the finest mesh (which I have been avoiding, perhaps out of paranoia) USP 2 is the coarsest (probably the one Soapgoods simply call zinc oxide) and USP 3 is in between. I would suggest emailing them and finding out which is which, then ordering the regular zinc and not the micronized kind.<br> <br> Yes Vitamin E acts as a preservative, because it is a very strong anti oxidant -- this means it helps prevent oil from turning rancid, although it will not prevent bacterium from growing.<br> <br> I do have another recipe for sunscreen which is almost completely water proof (to take it off at the end of the day you practically need to scrub yourself will a brillo pad) but I have not had the chance to post it yet. Go to <a href="http://www.makeanything.net">my website</a>, sign up for my (very infrequent) newsletter, and that will give me just the motivation I need to write another newsletter with that very timely recipe...
thanks for the response! i just signed up for the newsletter :D and ya, the main reason I asked about which zinc oxide you use is because I DON'T want the nano sized xD i'll def be emailing them! and i think i'm going to try beeswax instead because i want to be as &quot;natural&quot; as possible :P
You can use beeswax, but it will change texture and feel dramatically: it will be a lot more liquid, and feel much more sticky -- and it won't be as dependable an emulsifier. It's not impossible, but you might have to make a few batches before you get the proportions just right for the cream you like... Also you will need to add a small pinch of borax or the oil and water are pretty much guaranteed to separate when the cream cools down and settles.
THANK YOU SO MUCH! I am going to try your recipe this week, we have a full outdoor week ahead, I'll let you know how it works out. :n)
i'm not crazy about the smell of neem..... could i leave it out and just use the other essential oils?? thank you so much for this post!!!
Of course -- but mixed with these other scents, in my view, it's not so bad. Omitting the Neem will probably make it a weaker and less durable insect repellent, but if avoiding bugs is your primary motive for making the cream then you should probably go for a commercial repellent with more potent chemicals.
You can use Z-Cote Zinc Oxide Translucent zinc oxide which provides maximum UV protection but without the extra whitening typical of zinc. I get it at tkbtrading.com
Here's the manufacturer's brochure on Z-Cote:<br /> <a href="http://www.solsunguard.com/zcote_brochure.pdf" rel="nofollow">www.solsunguard.com/zcote_brochure.pdf</a><br /> <br /> <a href="http://www.tkbtrading.com/item.php?item_id=409" rel="nofollow" style="">Here's the tkbtrading page.</a><br /> <br /> It appears that Z-Cote is exactly the new nano zinc that you cautioned against on the previous page.<br /> <br /> According to this: <a href="http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview/id/548539.html" rel="nofollow" style="">answers.google.com</a>&nbsp; The average pore size is 50 microns, which is much larger than the .2 micron Z-Cote or the <a href="http://www.pvsoap.com/mineral_makeup_ingredients.asp" rel="nofollow">.12 micron sized regular zinc oxide</a> (this is the size of the product Soap&nbsp;Goods sells as well (<a href="http://www.soapgoods.com/msdscoa/zincoxide.pdf" rel="nofollow">pdf</a>) )<br /> <br /> According to this dermatology website, the micronized particles like Z-Cote can be potentially hazardous, but they also say that micronized particles coated with Dimethicone help to alleviate some of these risks.&nbsp; On that same TKB site, they offer <strong>HP1 Z-Cote </strong>which is exactly that, coated with Dimethicone, for not much more money.<br /> <br /> OK, that's enough research for now. &nbsp;Anyone want to chime in?
&nbsp;Thanks for contributing your research!
I'm a bit scared off by all the comments about how dangerous the powdered form of zinc oxide is. Can you substitute a 40% zinc oxide cream (the highest I've ever seen at a drug store) for the powdered zinc oxide, and in what proportion? I'd love to make a sunscreen without the bug repellent...<br>
I'm a little confused by your question: a 40% zinc oxide cream has zinc oxide powder in it, at a proportion of 40 parts per 100 (by weight). The comments here are about micronized particles -- zinc oxide made tiny to avoid the whitening effect when you cover yourself with it (this type is sometimes called nano particles). Just buy regular zinc oxide and there's nothing to worry about, it is safe and soothing to the skin (it is the active ingredient used in calamine lotion). As to the insect repellent feature, the general concern is to avoid mixing chemicals like Deet with sun creams designed to be absorbed. This is not applicable to this cream, which is a mild insect repellent based on mixing traditional essential oils -- you might want to omit the essential oils if you don't like the smell, but it is certainly not a health concern.
I know the 40% zo cream could be used as is, but it would be a horrible mess; I'm wondering to make a commensurate sunblock as the one you'd talked about, if I could mix some of the zo cream with a moisturizer base to come up with an easy sunsafe solution that was spreadable (albeit a little white). Just not sure how to translate the dry zo with the 40% cream...
That's easy enough: take 40 grams of zo powder and mix with 60 grams of your moisturizer -- and you've got a 40% cream. The texture will depend, obviously, on your choice of cream, but with that amount of zinc it will probably be fairly thick regardless of what you use. Also, over time the zinc might settle to the bottom -- that's why I use xantham gum, to keep it suspended in the emulsion.
Whoops, forgot the link to the <a href="http://www.treatment-skincare.com/Sunscreens/Micronized-Safety.html" rel="nofollow">dermatology site</a>.&nbsp; Seems like a dense site overall, with plenty of other areas of research represented, including some info on supplementation at the bottom of the page linked above.&nbsp; There's also some interesting info on various other ingredients that companies add to their mixtures such as <a href="http://www.treatment-skincare.com/Niacin/NAD-Therapeutic-Niacin.html" rel="nofollow">Niacin</a> and <a href="http://www.treatment-skincare.com/Green-_1/Polyphenols.html" rel="nofollow">Green Tea</a>.&nbsp; There's even an article called, &quot;<a href="http://www.treatment-skincare.com/Skincare-Failure.html" rel="nofollow">How to Be a Skin Care Failure</a>&quot;, which includes a <a href="http://www.treatment-skincare.com/Skincare-Failure/Organic-Natural.html" rel="nofollow">long rant</a> against &quot;natural&quot; product manufacturers.<br /> <br /> Have you ever heard of adding <a href="http://purebulk.com/green-tea-powder-extract-98" rel="nofollow" style="">Green Tea in this form</a> to a DIY skin care product?<br /> <br /> <a href="http://www.treatment-skincare.com/April-2007/Antioxidant-Zinc.html" rel="nofollow">This blurb</a> implies that other forms of zinc are good for the skin, but that zinc oxide is the only one not actually absorbed.&nbsp; I wonder if adding an alternate form of zinc would make a good addition to a formula.<br /> <br /> <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15009738?dopt=Abstract" rel="nofollow">Lutein</a>, anyone?<br /> <br /> I&nbsp;don't want it to seem like I&nbsp;am plugging this site, there's just a boat load of info there that I have been wading through for a few hours now.&nbsp; I&nbsp;realize that a lot of this goes into creating much more than simple sun screen :)&nbsp;
&nbsp;Oh thanks a lot... Now a few more hours of my life are about to go down the drain as I check out all your links! :)
I&nbsp;am eager to hear your conclusions. &nbsp;It's a real rabbit hole, this skin care topic.&nbsp;
Thanks for the suggestion! I'll check it out when I need new supplies.
what if u left out the Xanthan gum and put the rest of it in a spray bottle.
A spray cream would need to be formulated very differently: even without xanthan (which is necessary to suspend the zinc) this would clog up most sprays.

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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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