Homemade natural sunscreen anyone?

Sometime ago when I was reading up about sunscreens, I learnt that there are some folks who would rather make their own sunscreens.  I was both surprised and intrigued by the idea.  So when Leon started her new beauty forum on organic and natural skincare, I immediately raised this topic and this is the natural homemade sunscreen recipe that Leon shared with me:

3 tbsp. Grated Beeswax
3 Tbsp Shea Butter
1 Tbsp. Avocado Oil
1 Tbsp. Coconut Oil
1 Tbsp. Sesame Oil
1 tbsp. Canola Oil
3 tbsp. Aloe Vera Gel
3 tbsp. Lavender Hydrosol
1/2 tsp. borax powder
1 Vitamin E Gel Caplet

Take Beeswax, Shea Butter, Avocado Oil, Coconut Oil, Sesame Oil and Canola Oil and melt it in a double boiler. (Do not boil). Add Vitamin E Gel Caplet to the melted oil/butter. Now warm the Aloe Vera Gel, Lavender Hydrosol and borax powder in a separate pan until the powder is mixed well with the other 2 ingredients. Mix it with the melted oil and butter. Whisk properly until you get a creamy texture.Store it in an airtight jar and keep it refrigerated.

You can refrigerate it for up to a month if you have not used any preservative but if you use 5-6 drops of Grapefruit Seed Extract(Natural Preservative), it will last more than a year. You can take it out of the fridge 10-15 minutes before applying.

Besides vitamin E which fights free radicals and help to prevent skin damage from too much sun, there are a number of plant oil content in that recipe, some of which contain natural sunscreens according to what I’ve read at a holisitc resource and an environmental health resource. “Sesame oil resists 30 percent of UV rays, while coconut oil, peanut oil, olive oil, and cottonseed oil block out about 20 percent.”

Leon told me she is using this homemade sunscreen and absolutely loves it because it contains no chemicals nor zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.  In fact, I realized through a keyword search that many people are into making their own homemade sunscreens.  One particular recipe I came across seems a lot simpler and to me, offer more protection because the main ingredients are zinc oxide or titanium oxide mixed with almond oil and beeswax.  However, all the mixing and heating certainly makes me think twice about making it on my own.

Well, I guess while I may prefer natural ingredients but I don’t necessarily want to rely on something that is homemade for sun protection as I can’t tell if I’ll be getting sufficient broad spectrum protection from using it. 

But if you’ve tried using a homemade natural sunscreen, I’ll certainly like to have your opinion.



  1. parisb says:

    Like you, I’m leaving it to the experts especially when it comes to sunscreen! Great info btw

    paris: Yeah, I’ll rather buy sunscreens but if I can get my hands on zinc oxide, I don’t mind trying a homemade concoction.

  2. Alyssa says:

    My opinion,
    I don’t think you’ll be getting the protection you need if the sunscreen does not have the ingredients zinc oxide or titanium oxide. Those key ingredients are must in sun protection.

    Alyssa: I agree. If the homemade sunscreen contains enough zinc oxide, I’ll be happy to use it.

  3. flym says:

    Just curious if anyone’s ever tried mixing mineral makeup powder with moisturizer. I wonder if the oxides in the powder would give some sun protection.. though the level of protection would probably be hard to ascertain.

    flym: I guess mineral makeup by itself would offer some protection so I doubt if anyone mixes the stuff with moisturizer. But typically, it’s about SFF8 or SFP 15. Not that high.

  4. prettybeautiful says:

    well, i wouldn’t DIY my sunscreen as well, i believe the market ones are definitely more reliable than what i can do.

    prettybeautiful: I know what you mean. ? I’ll be worried about overheating or over calculating the portions.

  5. chenyze says:

    do you happen to know if the ingredients are available here and where?

    chenyze: Try the two local online shops I’ve listed in my entry: https://www.vivawoman.net/2008/08/12/keen-on-homemade-diy-skin-care/

    They have some of the ingredients, but maybe not all.

  6. kat says:

    when i read “borax” as an ingredient in this sunscreen recipe i freaked out! Maybe because that ingredient is banned in the u.s.?

    kat: Is the ban on it more as a food additive? I know some pple are concerned that this is too harsh because it works like a disinfectant but in small quantity, it shouldn’t pose a problem except for those with very dry or sensitive skin.

  7. Leon says:

    Hi Kat,

    Use Cosmetic Grade Borax which is safe on skin and does not contain surfactants and detergents which are commonly found in commercial Borax products.

  8. Leon says:


    Forgot to add, you can even skip Borax if you want but make sure you increase the quantity of Beeswax(natural emulsifier) so that water and oil mix well.

    Leon: Hey Leon! Thanks for answering this. I haven’t seen Borax around where I am though.

  9. Leon says:

    You can skip it Sesame but you have to increase the quantity of Beeswax:)

  10. Raelynn says:

    whoopeekiddies is selling red raspberry seed oil.. they claimed that a recently study by Oomah et al suggests taht this oil is potentially a broad spectrum sunblock comparable to titanium dioxide..

    Raelynn: Oh that’s interesting! I will go and check it up. Are you planning to get it? I won’t mind using this at home provided it doesn’t leave a stain like sea buckthorn. :p

  11. Kim says:

    I’m not a pro, just a hobbiest formulator. I’ve been trying to develop a sunscreen for myself, since I’m outdoors most of the day. I’ve tried using RRSO alone and as part of a lotion. It’s great on the skin, one of my favorites. Unfortunately, I have not found it to prevent sunburn, so I don’t rely on it for sun protection. I still use it in my lotions, facial moisturizer & lip balms b/c it’s great stuff. I also tried avocado oil, with similiar results and it is much greasier. The only thing I’ve found that works as a sunblock is Zinc Oxide & Titanium Dioxide. So, I use the RRSO as a moisturizer with my own mineral makeup containing ZO/TD brushed on top as a sunscreen. That’s my experience.

    Kim: Thanks for sharing your experience. Very interesting! I think some of the natural ingredients offer a limited sun protection and hence, we need the zinc oxide or titanium dioxide to get ourselves protected.

  12. Emmy says:

    I have found this recipe on a few occasions and as mentioned before i was concerned abt the borax but i do know that stearic acid is a good one to one substitution for borax as an emulsifier and safer for kids under 2. My only other concern was the fact that it had to be refridgerated and the practicality of that is questionable if you do any amount of primitive camping or are at the beach and forget to put it back in the cooler. However I am all for trying a natural sunscreen because of the tendancy for commercial products to contain parabens, petrolatum, and any number of things not good for your skin. Is there a way to combine the sunblocking properties of zinc and many of the ingredients in this recipe to make a more heat or outdoor forgiving sunscreen?

  13. sesame says:

    I guess it’s fine to have it outdoors for a short period but for storage, not too good. Even for commercial products, they would degrade with the heat.

  14. Pat says:

    It is not that hard to find zinc oxide. I am just about to try making my first batch before taking the family to Creation. I have found that we are less sun sensitive since we have removed artificial ingredients from our food. Many chemicals increase sensitivity to the sun.

  15. sesame says:

    I guess it’s much easier to source in US. Here in Singapore, it’s not so easy. But great that you’re making your own sunscreen. You’re right about chemicals increasing sensitivity to the sun.

  16. Peggu says:

    While I would like to leave it to the professionals. I and my two daughters are allergic to vitamin E which is in 99.9% of all manufactured suncreens, therefore I am looking for an easy one that I can make and leave it out of.

  17. sesame says:

    They are allergic to vitamin E – even the natural one?

  18. Peggy says:

    I don’t know what you are calling natural, but everything labeled with vitamin E, tocopherol, tocopherol acetate, tocopheryl we break out with a rash….

  19. Silvia says:

    I found Zinc Oxide at the pharmacy, I was used to use a diaper rush ointment as a sunblock, was very effective (if you don´t mind the “ashy” look. I don´t as I rather be ashy than sunburned…) but it was discountinued, so I started talking to the pharmacist and she told me they did carry powder Zinc Oxide, so I will try my own recipe, I have been reading 10 to 20% per volume is accepted, I´ll start small and increase it with time. I read some people instead of oil use Aloe vera gel, wich you can get at the health isle in the grocery store, as weel as most organic or cold pressed oils. I am tired of getting “attacked” with chemicals even on things that have labels that say “natural”. So I am trying to stay away from known commercial brands that will do the job, but at what cost???

  20. Denise says:

    I’ve been looking into this and appreciate the recipe and comments that follow. I get the “wanting to leave it to the expert” comments, but here’s the thing. I’ve developed an extreme sun sensitivity and the probable cause is the chemicals and additives put in commercial soaps, lotions, deodorants, etc. Yes, even sunscreen. So I’m trying to find “natural” substitutes. I’ve been making my own shampoos and lotions, etc. and now that summer is approaching I’m starting to investigate more natural sunscreen options. Which brings up the whole definition of “natural” and is natural the same as safe? Borax is a naturally occuring mineral, not a manufactured chemical. Zinc is a natural mineral, but zinc oxide is a chemical compound. So is zinc oxide “natural” Is it safer than borax on the skin? I’d buy sunscreen if I could find one whose ingredient list didn’t have a bunch of unpronounceable and unknown ingredients in it.

  21. sesame says:

    None of the sunscreens are 100% natural but by cutting out the preservatives and synthetics, you get something more agreeable on that front. Natural ingredients that have some sunscreen protection when applied topically includes green tea, shea butter, jojoba oil, sesame seed oil, white camellia oil and red raspberry oil. Except for the last one which some say provide an SPF of 28 – 50, the others don’t provide sufficient protection and I have no idea how much they provide in terms of UVA protection since SPF only measures against UVB protection.

  22. Lily says:

    In this recipe, the small amount of borax is used in conjunction with the beeswax to emulsify the lotion. The oils and the Aloe vera gel will not bind into an emulsion with out them. It is not harmful in that amount. Borax is also a commonly used laundry detergent booster.
    I’ve been making my own lotions for more than five years, and while I don’t used it frequently, it is in some popular natural lotions available on the market today.

  23. Alison says:

    My daughter is exactly the same – did you find any products iwthout it ?

  24. Meta says:

    When I was a child, my mother made suncreen from St. John’s Wort’s flowers soaked in olive oil for several weeks. She never used any preservatives. The finished sunscreen turned red, had a nice scent to it, and most of all, it was effective.

  25. sesame says:

    I seem to have read that taking and using St John’s Wort can cause photosensitivity. But now that you said it worked, I’m wondering if the photosensitivity is across the board or only on certain people.

  26. Lala says:

    I hate the fact that sunscreen is the only thing that can protect us in the sun well, but sunscreen contains chemicals that are harmful to us.
    Look at the ingredients, and you’ll find that it should contain something along the lines of “octyl methoxyccinamate”. that chemical gives you a risk of having reproductive problems (esp in women). at least for skin cancer, you actually know you have it because you can see it on your skin. It’s a bit ironic to know that something that’s meant to protect us from cancer actually can lead to cancer elsewhere. But we’ll just have to keep on using sunscreen, won’t we.

  27. sesame says:

    I know what you mean. It’s annoying. Most sunscreens out there are chemical based and few of the mineral ones with zinc oxide can be used frequently because of the texture. The only way I see it is to avoid the sun where possible so that we don’t have to apply so much.

  28. Lyn8 says:

    I grow my own aloe Vera under trees to protect them from frost in winter. I know others grow them in pots on verandahs. They multiply themselves for ongoing supply. Break off a leaf(?) at the base of the plant. Slice the prickles off the two side ridges with a sharp knife. Then cut approximately 2-3inches off one end, and slice this thru the middle. Rub the gooey gel all over the exposed skin. When it looks like it has all gone, you can release a lot more by cutting crisscross thru the gel to the skin, and keep using it, but it looks like snot if a lump accidentally comes off. The gel dries or seals quite quickly and invisibly on the skin. An old gardener friend told us he had used it all his life on his bald head quite successfully as a sun block. I find it works, but would dearly like to know the science of it, like what is in it that makes it work. The rest of the leaf or stalk can keep in fridge till next needed. It seals itself up. I believe that any sunblock needs to be reapplied every two hours, but I never seem to remember. Our mentor friend only ever gave himself a generous application at the beginning of his work day, and sometimes again at lunchtime. I use it on kids too, of all hues. But my daughter will only use commercial preps on her blondies. Calls me a witchdoctor…. Mmm.

  29. Joanne says:

    Dear Sesame,
    I would like to know if we can add Grapefruit Seed Extract in all our handmade products (like the kung fu panda eye mask #k8SjZc9Dxk#k8SjZc9Dxk) to make them last longer or is it espacially for sunscreen?
    Thank you.

  30. sesame says:

    You can add for all products as long as you don’t mind that your products will be a tad oily.

  31. Kimberly Karpowitz says:

    Sunscreen is always a good idea. Having had melanoma has reminded me how important it is to protect your skin. Do it however you can.

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