Andrea, Frugally Sustainable
We all know that protecting our skin — the body’s largest organ – from the sun is super important; but sadly, so many of the commercially-prepared sunscreens on the market are laden with harmful chemicals that could actually end up exposing us to the very toxins we are trying to protect ourselves from.
The good news is…there are ways to make your own natural sunscreens at home – not only will this save you money, but it will give you greater peace of mind in knowing exactly what has gone into making it.
Tips for Natural Sun Protection
One hundred years ago the majority of jobs involved working outdoors yet the sunscreen craze was no where to be found – neither was skin cancer. Sure, there were a few cases, but it’s interesting to me that with the increase sales of sunscreen the rate of skin cancer has also increased.
As just a little side note, my goal here is not to persuade you in your thinking but rather I want to challenge you to begin the research on your own. There are some really great articles out that have helped shape my opinion surrounding this issue, such as this one by Environmental Working Group (EWG) that describes the dangers of chemical sunscreens, and this one, oh…and you may like this one too. Ultimately the decision is yours and my suggestions here are purely for educational purposes. I strongly encourage you to do your own research and follow conventional wisdom.
So what did the people in years gone by know that we don’t? Well, they:
-were a bit more modest in their dress and wore lots of protective clothing.
-they knew to stand in the shade if at all possible.
-they avoided direct exposure to the noon sun.
-their diets were wholesome and consisted of real foods.
Did you know that we can dramatically improve our resistance to the sun’s harmful rays through dietary changes! Yes! Our skin is our largest organ right? So that means, when our immune system is functioning on low due to an over consumption of processed foods we weaken our first line of defense and place ourselves at greater risk.
I love that seasonal summer foods — such as strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, cherries (and fruits of all kinds), beans, nuts, and a variety of legumes — are some of the highest antioxidant foods on the planet…just what our bodies’ need for healthy skin and natural sun protection.
Ingredients that Naturally Protect Us from the Sun
There are natural ingredients, some may be found in our kitchens, that work to protect us from over exposure to the sun. Many are oils that contain SPF properties such as:
- Raspberry Seed Oil. The highest of all natural ingredients, contains an estimated SPF of 30-50.
- Shea Butter. An excellent skin protectant with an SPF of approximately 6-10.
- Carrot Seed Oil. Carrot seed oil is an essential oil and has been estimated to contain SPF levels of 30.
- Wheat Germ Oil. While super nourishing for the skin, it too possesses a natural SPF of 20.
- Sesame oil, Coconut Oil, Hemp oil, Avocado oil, Soybean, and Peanut Oil. All contain SPF levels between 4-10.
However, none of these ingredients are necessarily adequate on their own to provide us protection for an all day experience…say, out on the lake.
In order to make your own sunscreen you really should add the natural mineral zinc oxide (and possibly titanium oxide) to your recipe. This will give you real power to reflect the sun’s ray, with minimal negative effects.
Customize this recipe based on your budget and what you have available.
-1 ounce oil blend (use any combination of the oils listed above)
-1 ounce beeswax (adds waterproof properties)
-1 ounce butter blend (i.e. Shea butter, mango butter, or cocoa butter)
-1 teaspoon vitamin E oil
-0.36 ounces zinc oxide powder
-30 drops essential oils, optional
1. Gather ingredients and kitchen tools. Note: Many of the oils listed above can be found in the grocery store or health food store. I love the quality and cosmetic properties of the oils, essential oils, and butters available from Mountain Rose Herbs. They are my source for these things. Find beeswax here or search for a local source by clicking here.
2. In a double boiler, over low heat, melt the oils, beeswax, and butters.
3. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly prior to adding the vitamin E oil, zinc oxide powder, and essential oils. Note: Wear a mask when working with zinc oxide. Although it has not been proven harmful when used topically, inhaling the substance can be dangerous.
4. Stir until zinc oxide is dissolved. Note: Purchase zinc oxide powder here.
5. Pour into a push-up or roll-up dispenser. This recipe will produce a product similar to a lotion bar or sunscreen stick. You could easily clean out and re-purpose a used deodorant or lip balm container. But, if you want to buy a new one…I love these containers.
6. Allow to cool and harden on the counter overnight and then you’re good to go! During times of heavy sun and swim exposure be sure to reapply often for the best coverage.
-This recipe contains zinc oxide at 12% which gives it an SPF of around 10-12 (note: this has not been approved or tested). See this awesome chart to reduce or increase the amount of zinc oxide based on your family’s needs. Have a question about it? Ask it in the comments and we’ll figure it out together
-Want to reduce your cost of the products used to make this recipe? Call together a group of like-minded friends, ask them if they are interested in making this recipe with you, and split the costs!
-Beneficial, sun protecting essential oils include lavender, myrrh, carrot seed oil, and peppermint.Read more here…
-Want to stick your favorite brand of sunscreen? Don’t feel bad about that! There are a few really good companies out there working hard to provide safe and effective products. Go to EWG’s website to check your commercial sunscreen’s level of chemical contaminants by clicking this link.
-Don’t shun the sun completely! Our fear of the sun has precipitated a societal vitamin D deficiency that is unfortunately taking us by storm — potentially producing an increase rate of cancers, autism, asthma, heart disease, and mental illness, just to name a few.
-This is the recipe that I have used for my family here in the Arizona desert for years with great results. However, I can not guarantee that yours will be the same experience because it has not been tested in an FDA approved lab. In other words, by sharing this recipe with you, I hope you understand that I will not be held responsible for any adverse reactions, sunburns, or skin cancers.
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