Make your own sunscreen at home! ~ Sun Stick Recipe ~

Now that things are heating up outside, it’s time to break out the sunscreen!

But not so fast…have you seen some of the warnings and fact sheets about conventional sunscreen?

Ugh. It’s not fun news that many of the most common brands contain chemicals that are endocrine disruptors, common allergens, and can be detrimental to the environment.

What’s more confusing is that despite our increased use of sunscreens, skin cancer is on the rise and many Americans have Vitamin D levels that are way too low (vitamin D is critical for healthy bones and a strong immune system).

We certainly still need to protect ourselves from the sun, but maybe we need to rethink the way that we’re finding our protection.

So how do we do this while still staying safe from excessive and dangerous exposure to UVA and UVB sun rays?

Here are some of the top tips:

  • Wear big hats, shirts, and pants to protect your skin from the sun.
  • Go outside in the early morning or late afternoon rather than at mid-day when the sun is most intense.
  • Hang out in shaded areas, or bring shade in the form of umbrellas.
  • Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from harmful UV radiation.
  • Research sunscreen options and find the best, safest choice for your family when you must be out in direct sunlight!

IMG_1694Chemical- vs. Mineral-Based Sunscreens

There are two main types of sunscreen available – those with chemical filters and those that use minerals to block the sun.  Products with chemical filters usually combine two of the following chemicals into their sunscreen: oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and/or octinoxate.  Mineral sunscreens are generally made with zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide.

Unfortunately, many of the chemical filters are thought to be endocrine distruptors and allergens.  While mineral filters are not completely perfect and one should definitely take care not to inhale these minerals, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) notes that, “Zinc oxide is EWG’s first choice for sun protection. It is stable in sunlight and can provide greater protection from UVA rays than titanium oxide or any other sunscreen chemical approved in the U.S. (Schlossman 2005). Years ago, zinc oxide sunscreens, often seen on lifeguards’ noses, were famously white and chalky. Today, sunscreen makers use zinc oxide nanoparticles to formulate lotions with less white tint.”

A Problem with Vitamin A?

A large number of commercial sunscreens also contain added Vitamin A.  Used in typical body products, Vitamin A may be a beneficial antioxidant that slows skin aging.  However, in combination with exposure to the sun, some preliminary evidence suggests that retinyl palmitate (a form of vitamin A) can contribute to skin damage.  Here’s what the EWG says:

A study by U.S. government scientists suggests that retinyl palmitate, a form of vitamin A, may speed the development of skin tumors and lesions when applied to the skin in the presence of sunlight (NTP 2012). Officials in Germany and Norway have cautioned that retinyl palmitate and other vitamin A ingredients in cosmetics could contribute to vitamin A toxicity due to excessive exposure (German BfR 2014, Norwegian SCFS 2012a).

To learn more about safety concerns with common sunscreens and which sunscreens may be safer than others, I highly recommend checking out the Environmental Working Group’s 2015 Guide to Sunscreens. You’ll find more information about common concerns as well as comprehensive listings of the safety ratings of many, many brands of sunscreens.

We Can Make Our Own Mineral-Based Sunscreens!

For those of us who are DIY types and interested in knowing more about everything that goes into the common products that we use, we can even make our own sunscreen using mineral sunblocks!  Again, mineral sunblocks are what the EWG recommends as the safest, most non-toxic form of sunscreen.

I’d love to share with you the recipe that I’ve been using successfully for several years!  However, I will make the disclaimer that the final product has not been tested for its actual SPF value and, as with any sunscreen, you need to make sure to reapply often (especially after going in the water).  If you’re really sensitive to sunburns and are about to go to a tropical island, I might suggest you check out a commercial brand like Goddess Garden.

For the rest of us who are ready and willing to try making some homemade sunscreen, here’s the recipe.  Each of the ingredients has some amount of SPF value that I’ve noted.  The best SPF in this sunscreen is the mineral sunblock in the form of zinc oxide.  It also contains raspberry seed oil and carrot seed oil which are both known to have high levels of naturally occurring SPF.

Homemade Sun Stick Recipe

sun stickThis recipe makes about 6 oz of sun stick.  I put it into these push up deodorant tubes.  You’ll be able to fill about three with this recipe.

Ingredients (with where to buy if you click the links):


  1. Melt the shea and cocoa butters, coconut oil, and beeswax in a double boiler over medium-low heat.  I just use a pyrex measuring cup that I sit inside a pot filled halfway with water.  After these ingredients have melted, let them stay on the heat in the double boiler for about 20 minutes.  This helps to ensure an even consistency with the end product.
  2. Remove the melted solids from heat and stir in the liquid oils making sure that they incorporate well.  Stir in essential oils.
  3. Because we shouldn’t breathe the zinc oxide, put a shirt or mask over your mouth and nose before mixing in the zinc oxide.  Make sure to mix the powder into the melted oils well, and as you pour into each tube, try to keep whisking the mixture to keep the zinc suspended throughout the mix.  It has a tendency to settle into the bottom.
  4. I like to take a chopstick and mix the melted sun stick one last time once it has been poured into the tubes to make sure that the zinc oxide has been distributed evenly.

IMG_1699Homemade Sun Stick is also available for purchase in my Etsy Shop.


Additonal References: Efficacy Study of Sunscreens Containing Various Herbs for Pro­tecting Skin from UVA and UVB Sunrays

Shared on: Wildcrafting Wednesdays

FTC DISCLOSURE: I may receive monetary or other compensation for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services within this article. However, it is my promise to you that I am sharing my honest opinion and that I only recommend products or services that I have personally used or recommend and are in alignment with Light Footsteps ideals.

Common Sense Disclaimer: All information on this blog is for educational purposes only.  It has not been evaluated by the FDA and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any condition or ailment.  Speak with your healthcare provider if you have any health concerns and before making changes to your lifestyle, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, or have a preexisting health condition.  


4 thoughts on “Make your own sunscreen at home! ~ Sun Stick Recipe ~

  1. Good article. I do not trust the OTC sunscreen at all. I really like your DIY recipe. Shared on PInterest & Twitter. Visiting from Wildcrafting Wednesday.

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