We are an adventure-loving family and spend a good deal of time in the great outdoors during the warmer months (which here in North Carolina is about 9 months of the year!). When my oldest turned two and we started spending some serious time in the sun, I began researching sunscreen. Almighty there is a LOT to learn about sunscreen if you want to be sure it’s safe! I’ve spent my life slathering on the Coppertone, but now that my sunscreen choice was affecting my babies and their health, we started splurging on the safe (and expensive) options. We tried many that were rated a 1 or 2 on the EWG website and it was taking a huge chunk of money out of our summer budget. Not cool! So I dove head first into testing different recipes and finally ended up with a DIY Waterproof Mineral Sunscreen that has been a huge success to keep my babies sunburn-free and save us some money in the process.
I make mine in small 4oz mason jars (available HERE) for several reasons. 1) I like to use glass to prevent leaching, since I’m melting ingredients directly in these containers. 2) They are small enough to tote around in a backpack or purse 3) The smaller size means that we use it up in a few weeks and it doesn’t have a chance to get lumpy. That was my biggest complaint with the first batches I made. They were in large jars and after about a month the coconut oil and/or shea butter would start to get lumpy so that I had to heat it up in my hand before applying.
When we apply this DIY Waterproof Mineral Sunscreen, we use it on bodies. It does leave a barely noticeable white hue on the face so we purchase a store brand for faces. Currently my favorite is Think Baby, which comes in at $4/oz, although Kitchen Stewardship recently recommended a bulk version of Tropical Sands on Amazon that is closer to $2/oz that we may try. If you want to know more on safe sunscreen, definitely check out their yearly review of sunblocks.
USE: We use this in and out of the water. I do try and re-apply at least every 2 hours and have never had a burn! Then again we are usually spending time in the shade and/or taking a break by that point since my babies are little.
WHAT IS THE SPF? Several ingredients in this recipe have a natural SPF, but since it has not been tested by a regulatory organization, my best guess as to the SPF listed below is between 20-30. Generally agreed upon estimates for the SPF of individual ingredients are:
- Coconut Oil- SPF 4-6
- Zinc Oxide SPF 2-20 depending on how much used (this recipe uses a higher proportion than several others I’ve tried). Zinc Oxide makes up just over 25% of this recipe.
- Shea Butter – SPF 4-6
*I’ve included links to ingredients I use and love. When you purchase something via one of these affiliate links, I receive a small commission but the price is the same for you*
1/4 cup Coconut Oil (I purchase Costco’s oil, but here is an alternative. The important thing is that it is unrefined and cold-pressed)
1 Tbs Beeswax pellets (I choose white since this is going on skin)
1 Tbs Unrefined shea butter
1.5 Tbs Zinc Oxide powder (Make sure it is Non-nano Zinc Oxide powder, available here. Be sure NOT TO INHALE the powder when mixing)
OPTIONAL: 1/2 tsp Vitamin E drops
- Place a shallow pan over low/medium heat. On the bottom place a small washcloth (this keeps the glass from clanking as the water simmers) and on top of this 2-4 small jelly jars. Fill the pan with water until it’s about 1/2″ below the rim of the jars.
- In each jar place the coconut oil, shea butter, and beeswax.*A note on stirring* I love that this sunscreen has protected us in the water. But when I’ve tried to make it with my mixer as other recipes suggest, it will not come off the beaters even after a good wash. I have bamboo chopsticks that I stir with so I just have to wipe them off before tossing in the dishwasher.
- Stir occasionally as the ingredients melt together. Once everything is blended, carefully remove the jars (I use an oven mitt, you could use jar tongs). Set aside.
- Carefully measure and mix in the Zinc Oxide and Vitamin E (if using) until everything is well blended and creamy. It’s important NOT TO INHALE the powder. I wear a dust mask. Once it’s mixed, you’re good to go!
- Let the sunscreen sit at least 12 hours to set. IMPORTANT: I’ve found that if I just let it sit, it will get some small chunks from the oils cooling at different speeds. To prevent this, stir it once or twice in the first few hours as it cools.
Store in a cool spot (below 76 degrees as this is the melting point for coconut oil) for several months. One reason I love the small jars is that we can easily use one up in two weeks in the summer and we don’t have a ton left over the winter. I usually scoop old sunscreen out during the winter and re-make it in the spring because I’ve found that it gradually gets harder over time.