Thinking Of Making Your Own Sunscreen?

Carrot Seed, Vitamin E, Vanilla, & Raspberry Oils
shea butter
zinc oxide powder
Coconut Oil

I’m completely crazy about sun protection—I’d like to attribute this to being admirably health-conscious, but no, my preoccupation has more to do with fear of wrinkles and sunspots. However, I struggle to find lotion that I like wearing. Either it breaks me out, smells gross, or costs a fortune. This version might have been expensive in the tiny quantity in which I made it, but if I sustain my interest in craft-cosmetics for long enough to use up all the larger bottles of individual ingredients I bought, the whole thing works out to be cheaper than the store-bought generics crammed full with synthetics. Plus, it smells really good. Vanilla extract is optional, but heavily recommended.

The small batch took about 5 minutes to make (apart from the time it took to melt up and cool down) and, unless you're not thorough with mixing tasks, it's idiot-proof. The project essentially amounts to heating some stuff up and sticking it in a mason jar. Plus, I've yet to touch on what's perhaps the most interesting thing about DIY sunscreen other than that it looks and smells like full-fat cupcake frosting: did anyone realize that certain oils are natural sun protectants? As if anyone hanging around in the beauty corner of the Internet needed another coconut oil talking point.

-¼ cup shea butter (SPF 4-6)*
-2 tbsp. zinc oxide powder (SPF 20; I used non-nano zinc oxide because, although it can leave a slight white residue, it cannot be absorbed into the skin)
-¼ cup coconut oil (SPF 4-6)
-¼ cup cosmetic-grade beeswax granules
-20 drops carrot seed oil (SPF 35-40)
-1 tsp. raspberry seed oil (SPF25-50)
-1 tsp. vanilla extract
-1 tsp. vitamin E oil

*I have included the natural SPF of these ingredients, but since the combination hasn’t been tested by anything other than my own haphazard sun exposure, rely on the zinc oxide to provide your protection. If you want to adjust the SPF of the mixture, use the following amounts:
For SPF 2-5: 5% zinc oxide
For SPF 6-11: 10% zinc oxide
For SPF 12-19: 15% zinc oxide
For SPF >20: 20% zinc oxide

1. Combine shea butter, coconut oil and beeswax in a large jar.
2. Place the jar into a saucepan of water and heat on a low setting.
3. Once the ingredients have melted, remove from heat and leave to cool for a few minutes.
4. Stir in the zinc oxide powder. Be careful not to inhale it—it's toxic when ingested. One website recommended I wear a mask, but I just put my hand over my mouth instead, and I feel fine.
5. Place the mixture in fridge to cool for 20-30 minutes, or until the texture is whippable.
6. Add oils and extracts.
7. Whip together properly. If you don’t evenly distribute the ingredients, it won’t adequately protect you and you’ll end up needing Botox (or, y’know, worse things than that).
8. Put it into a smaller container and you’ve done it! Earth Mother credentials achieved.

If you keep the sunscreen refrigerated it will last for up to 6 months. But you should reapply it every few hours, so it shouldn’t be around that long anyway.

—Olivia Singer

Olivia is a London-based writer and the editor of Under the Influence magazine. Follow her other skincare adventures on Twitter @oliviasinger.

Let’s Talk About It! JOIN IN
  • Moonbeam

    Unless you're a cosmetic chemist, read this before you try to make your own sunscreen...

    • Julie from Swatch and Review

      And then read the comments too for the other side of the story :)

    • Maya

      Zinc Oxide doesn't absorb into the skin (non-nano) so that is safe and I know for a fact that Whole Foods sells a sunscreen that is JUST zinc oxide and coconut oil and my local health store among many other places I trust. So Allure can shove it. And who would take actual advice from just a beauty mag that gets paid to BS?

    • brigitte

      I made a sunscreen by adding zinc oxide to a lotion that I made for a 20 SPF. My landscaping friend put mine on one arm and a 40 SPF sunscreen from the grocery store on the other. Mine worked better. This is not the first article I've come across stating that homemade sunscreens don't work however these articles don't have any proof that they don't work. They just say the experts say they don't, with out any studies. However there are studies that prove otherwise.
      Rice bran and raspberry seed oil-based nanocarriers with self-antioxidative properties as safe photoprotective formulations!divAbstract And this study on buriti oil

  • estheresther

    It's nice to want to streamline and control what goes onto one's body but I wouldn't mess with SPF. All chemicals aren't evil. Water is a chemical! A lot of research goes into the making of commercialized products and they do test their products. The also add preservatives to make their products stable.

    • olivia singer

      I'm totally down with chemicals - I just have really struggled to find a lotion that works for me (smells good, doesn't break me out, stops me from burning to death) that doesn't cost the earth. So I read four thousand journals and gave it a go - zinc oxide is a barrier protectant used in commercial sunscreens that, if mixed adequately, will protect your skin from UV as well as anything else will.

      • estheresther

        I've been there and trust me: Piz Buin Allergy SPF 30 (also exists in 50 I think). No sunburn, best skin ever. I use it from May to September.

      • francine

        "If mixed adequately" is a key phrase here. You really have no idea if yours is, and the only way to test it is to go out and get a sunburn. These things are better tested in a lab.

      • Merrill

        I would suggest Banana Boat Natural Reflect Sunscreen! It doesn't smell horrendous, and is the only sunscreen that hasn't broken me out :)

      • Chantaine

        There is no way to "mix adequately" unless you're in a lab.

  • s

    this is a terrible terrible terrible terrible TERRIBLE idea. oh my god. NO. for the love of god.

  • Beauty or Something

    I love DIY's and this one is fantastic. Thank you so much! Can you use this on your face or do you think the coconut oil might cause breakouts?

    • Merrill

      Please please please do not try this!!! DIY sunscreen is bad news all around-- there's no way to accurately tell what SPF you are actually getting, and it is definitely not even close to enough sun protection!! Plus, the oils used can actually attract UV rays. Please don't try this!

  • mementomori

    Pinterest-level "uh oh chemicals are SCARY" articles are getting posted now? I am disappoint, ITG. =(

    • olivia singer

      Not that chemicals are scary at all, but it smells better than anything I've found for less than $100

      • mementomori

        Fair enough. Why not just use a nice perfume instead? Zinc oxide, being a physical sunscreen, does not offer broadband protection and cannot be mixed evenly - unless you're a professional - and I think recommending it as a catch-all sunscreen solution is rather harmful. But I suppose you already know that, seeing you've read four thousand journals on the topic.

        • olivia singer

          Mineral sunscreens protect against UVA and UVB and when made at home thoroughly are supported by not only journal evidence but organisations like livestrong and, according to EWG, actually are the safest to use. Non-mineral sunscreens that penetrate the skin can disrupt hormone levels - it is absolutely personal choice, though.

          • nienque

            I'd love to see the journal evidence. Mind sending me the URLs to the articles?

          • olivia singer

   has a pretty comprehensive list of explorations on safety in zinc sunscreens and the effects of many commercially available sunscreens on hormone levels. I absolutely take some of these with a pinch of salt - and, to be honest, this wasn't the motivation for writing the piece - but it is INCREDIBLY interesting

          • s

            there are plenty of sunscreens that don't use chemical filters. i use mineral sunscreen because chemical sunscreens make the skin around my eyes burn. it's a good idea to get one that has both zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. (and just fyi, neither livestrong nor ewg is a reliable source)

      • hmm

        but is it about the smell? most natural fragrances like linalool and limonene are actually common irritants.

      • Alice

        So you're willing to risk your skin just because it smells better? There are so many sunscreens out there, why not try them(asian brands are highly praised and some are quite cheap). That seems very futile.

      • francine

        Not sure why you'd want your sunscreen to smell at all, I'd think sun protection would be more important than fragrance. I do agree chemical sunscreens smell bad and often have masking fragrances. But mineral sunscreens are often unscented.

      • Cat

        Avène, Vichy and La Roche Posay make awesome sunscreens that have a very subtle scent or no scent at all. They are all cheaper than $100. And, you know, they've invested good money in research and testing, so you actually get the protection they are claiming, unlike this recipe. LRP has some good physical sunscreens, if that's what you want.

        You could still use this recipe as a perfume, but it's irresponsible to promote this as sunscreen. Bet your skin and your health in this sunscreen all you want, but unless you have the means to test the spf and guarantee the protection it gives, it'd be better not to promote it. You could be responsible for someone's else melanoma.

        • Viola

          I agree with everything Girl Cat but this "You could be responsible for someone's else melanoma". Sadly lot's of people still get melanoma, even if they use the best formulated sunscreen daily.

  • joo

    when do people realize that just because something is all 'natural' doesn't mean it's any better. usually quite the opposite.

    • kp propertyitaly

      of course it is better, natural means it comes from the earth and without humans messing around with it it has a purpose that humans can use it for, good or bad. I dislike manmade chemicals that have laden our bodies with toxins. anything processed always brings problems when humans ingest it or put it on their skin.

      • Merrill

        Perhaps in some cases that may be true, but in the case of sun protection it really is not. You really should not mess around with a DIY sunscreen, as you can never be sure as to what SPF you are actually getting, and is not enough protection against UV rays.

      • Alice

        So I'm guessing that you don't trust modern medicine? It's all man made products. Poison ivy is natural, snake venom too, arsenic as well and let's not forget all the poisonous mushrooms and I wouldn't put any of those in my body.

        • Cat

          Snake venom is now used in skin care, not sure if it actually gives any results, though.

          • Alice

            I have read some good reviews about it and I think some medications for cardio problems are made from it as well. Still a bit different from the concentrated bite.

      • nienque

        Personally, I have more faith in peer-reviewed, science-based knowledge that does involve chemicals, than I do in laymen 'messing around' with natural ingredients. But that's just me.

        • eastvillagesiren

          Me too!

      • ehh

        Lavender oil is cytotoxic, capable of killing skin cells

      • Nick

        Poison ivy is natural.

      • Bertiebeetle

        you know lots of stuff from the earth is bad for you? and lots of toxins are natural? please if i am diabetic or have a stroke or something load me up with man made chemicals i'll take whatever problems you think they bring.

      • Julie from Swatch and Review

        You do realize that not all things that come from the earth are good for us....

      • eastvillagesiren

        Zinc oxide may be "natural," but it may well have gone through one of several processes to render it fit to put on your skin; same with the extraction process used to separate the raspberry seed oil from the seeds, cocononut oil from the coconuts, etc. The oils may be natural, but the processes aren't.

        I like and use "nature made" chemicals/ingredients, but in no way am I fearful of or think that "mandmade" is bad, and in some cases, I prefer well-regulated, well-formulated "mandmade" ingredients.

  • francine

    I agree with previous posters, your SPF is not something you should DIY. Stirring this up in your kitchen isn't an adequate replacement for sonicating in a lab or production facility. For products to be labeled with SPF ratings they need to be properly tested. And there are so many good non chemical sunscreens out there! This recipe is oil based with non nano zinc. Badger sunscreen is one of the many options out there that has the same criteria... And Badger has tested their non nano zinc has been properly tested to ensure it actually is - something you probably didn't do in your kitchen. Also there are a lot of options out there that are less greasy and have less of a white cast while still using non nano zinc. They have water and emulsifiers in the formula. Many are even mentioned in previous articles on this site (recent ones by Lacey come to mind). I love DIY body products... But wouldn't use a home made zinc oxide cream for anything other than rashes.

    • eastvillagesiren

      Good response. BTW, did you know that Badger had to recall batches of their sunscreen? Link here: I had tried their sunscreen a few years ago but stopped because I didn't feel they used a proper preservative system.

  • Meredith

    Even if the raw materials contain a desirable SPF, there is absolutely no way to ensure the components will be evenly distributed in the final product, resulting in inadequate coverage. This is actually dangerous and no one should try DYI sun protection. There is a reason companies employ cosmetic chemists to create and RIGOROUSLY TEST the sunscreens available in stores and online. As someone with a family history of skin cancer, this topic is really important to me and I hate to think people are endangering themselves in this way. Please let's leave sunscreens to the professionals, whether you opt for a "natural" or conventional formula.

    • nienque

      Exactly. There's a reason sunscreen ingredients need to be approved by the FDA and that there are standards governing the labelling on sunscreen products. This is serious business.

  • EstyA

    ITG: it's irresponsible to have this "recipe" posted here. Don't further promote this concept. It's straight up dangerous.

  • Lauren Hadfield

    The correlation between the sales of sunscreen and the rise in skin cancer is unbelievable (google it!), its funny how way back when before sunscreen was widely used and our parents were sunning them selves without, the levels of skin cancer were lower. Also of course Its about what you put in your body, the more vitamins and minerals in your body the better you are in the sun. I personally would love to try this as well as being sensible in the sun and staying out of it during the hottest hours, I would much rather use even just coconut oil than a normal sun screen. The chemicals are actually more cancer causing than the sun its self, I find it crazy how every one thinks the sun awful when it is actually so beneficial when used sensibly. Those sunscreens totally prevent a lot vitamin D absorption which is one of the most important and beneficial things for your body. It just makes sense to me to not use insane chemicals, because its a relatively modern thing and as I said the levels of cancer have risen with the levels of sunscreen sales and people did fine without it before huge companies were making billions on telling you what was best for your health. There is a big difference between natural and artificial chemicals . For when I go away though I will probably be buying a store bought more natural sunscreen like from the Australian brand Jason or something.

    • loll

      yes it's all illuminati and greedy pharma companies and not the fact that we have way better knowledge of skin cancer now than back then

      • eastvillagesiren

        LOL. And maybe a little something like the ozone layer depletion that wasn't as severe during my Grandma's time?

        • Ona_in_Barcelona

          PLUS the fact that we wear way more revealing clothes than previous generations - it was only a couple of generations back that shorts and singlets were really outre.

    • sfcho

      Just because there is a correlation between the sales of sunscreen and the rise of skin cancer does not mean, in any way, that skin cancer is caused by sunscreen! Humans have damaged the ozone over time and so the sun is doing more damage to our skin now than it was 20 years ago, which may be why your parents could lay out in the sun and not get cancer...unfortunately, we live in a world now where the sun can and does cause cancer and it has been PROVEN, through scientific research (not just pulling random stuff from google) that sunscreens can prevent sun damage to the skin...

      • best all-around

        Not to mention more people are AWARE of skin cancer now... so more people are getting checked, thus, more cancer is found. So many factors to consider.

    • Katonine

      "its funny how way back when before sunscreen was widely used and our
      parents were sunning them selves without, the levels of skin cancer were

      My parents both ended up with skin cancer 25 years after sunning themselves with no sunscreen.

      • Lauren

        Well I didn't say no one got skin cancer, I just said less people did. My opinion is that the best sun protection is one that wasn't made in a test tube combined with a healthy diet filled with vitamins to help deter cancer.

    • Lauren

      'There’s no consensus on whether sunscreens prevent skin cancer. The Food and Drug Administration’s 2007 draft sunscreen safety regulations say: “FDA is not aware of data demonstrating that sunscreen use alone helps prevent skin cancer” (FDA 2007). The International Agency for Research on Cancer agrees. IARC recommends clothing, hats and
      shade as primary barriers to UV radiation and writes that “sunscreens should not be the first choice for skin cancer prevention and should not be used as the sole agent for protection against the sun” (IARC 2001a).'


      'Recently available data from an FDA study indicate that a form of vitamin A, retinyl palmitate, when applied to the skin in the presence of sunlight, may speed the development of skin tumors and lesions (NTP 2009). This evidence is troubling because the sunscreen industry adds vitamin A to 41 percent of all sunscreens.'

      Just things to think about when choosing what brand to go with, I am not saying don't use sun protection I'm just saying be aware of what is in it etc. I just wanted to comment because I think perhaps someone out there reading this might be interested in looking at it from another point.

    • s

      a lot of this has to do with the fact that people don't put on enough sunscreen, but think they're adequately protected and therefore spend more time in the sun than they would otherwise. it's very common for people to put on way less sunscreen than is actually needed, you should be slathering the stuff on.

      • eastvillagesiren

        Well said.

  • Nick

    This is a completely irresponsible recommendation. Dermatologists do not recommend this at all and EWG are a bunch of fear mongers lacking any substantiated research behind their claims.

    • eastvillagesiren

      Good post, Nick. EWG compiles research; they don't conduct it themselves. I think they started out with good intentions, but the research they cite doesn't always match the formulation or usage of the ingredient they're rating, and their ratings are too general for me.

  • llama

    so i read this post like nooooo stahp D: i'm all about home crafted cosmetics (nothing makes me happier than trying out a new emulsifier) but SPF is just not something you should mess with.

    then i scrolled down to read what everyone had to say about it and i'm happy to see others had the same thoughts. Commenters are one of the reasons I love ITG. Y'all are an inquisitive, open minded & positive bunch. keep looking out for each other <3

  • Emma

    I couldn't disagree more. I love Into The Gloss but seeing this here is disheartening. Why not review the best all natural sun blocks? I have Italian skin and rarely burn without protection but the few times I had leftover coconut oil on my skin from moisturizing and went outside I burned as if I'd rubbed baby oil on myself. Using oils without proper, lab tested SPF is dangerous.

    • Molly

      Look into Bare Belly Organics all-natural, mineral sunscreen. It has been fully tested in an approved FDA lab and was included in the 2014 EWG safe sunscreen list.

  • Sara

    Thanks a lot! Love this!

  • Behind the Mirror

    Great post! I love this. I just recently learned that coconut oil could be used as sunscreen but I was too hesitant to try. I am happy to learn it is only about an spf of 4-6, so super glad I didn't count on that at the beach!

  • Priya M.

    I've been looking into making my own sunscreen because I share the same problems as you do with store bought ones! I'm hoping this turns out well! Thank you for the tips!

  • Lauren

    Yes you can 'prove' anything with correlations but those things are not related so to speak. I find it too hard to believe that there is no connection between slathering our skin in the chemicals and the rising levels of skin cancer.

  • Guest

    Whoa I should've read the comments before I commented myself.
    I should clarify that I use plain coconut oil as a tanning oil. It creates a deeper tan than anything else.

    It's interesting how people are reacting to this article.
    Be responsible and use sunscreen, but also ENJOY THE SUN!

  • katie

    While I would never mess with making my own sunscreen, I just wanted to give props to carrot seed oil. After a pregnancy, I had very blatant and hideous purple stretch marks on my boobs and hips which were driving me nuts. On a whim, I bought some carrot seed oil from Chinatown and gave myself some intense massages on the affected areas every night until I ran out. The purple disappeared within a month and I was left with very minimal actual scarring. Just thought I would put the "carrot seed oil as stretch-mark remover" comment out there for ITG's adventurous readers to try!

  • Sarah

    Did you know that most shop bought sunscreens block our the Vitamin D in the sun that's so good for us? Making your own allows the Vitamin D to get through! I was thinking about making some myself so this recipe is so useful! Thanks you :)

    I also made my own lip balm – some of the ingredients are the same so why not make this at the same time?!


  • Creezy

    These comments are so harsh. There are people that prefer homemade and natural products, including sunscreen. Maybe it's not as effective as drugstore brands. Does that mean we should attack those people because they do things differently? Calling this article "drivel" or stating that the author would be responsible for someone's melanoma is just ridiculous. State your opinion and move on. No need for the "mean girl" attitudes. ITG is great and I appreciate the diverse articles.

    • bluesky557

      People aren't trying to be mean. They are trying to be helpful and prevent each other from dying of skin cancer.

  • eastvillagesiren

    Thank you; well said.

  • Ice

    Don't do it, read the comments on this article on why it isn't safe to make your own sunscreen!

  • Lindsay

    I get the best organic sunscreen from a tiny raw food store in the East Village called High Vibe. The ingredients list is amazing, price is no more than a drugstore brand, and it smells so refreshing. Plus, no whiteness or goopy texture.

  • pocketnovella

    I am really surprised by how fervent some of the anti-DIY commenters are on here. The level of passion is akin to the anti-chemical people, and I don't think either camp has it totally right. If you use chemical sunscreens, and you have a bad reaction, your body is probably telling you to avoid it. If you make your own sunscreen and you don't burn (when you normally do), it's probably the best route to take. Alternately, if you don't feel like making your own, or don't trust it and have no reaction, buy the lab-made, lab-tested stuff in the store. Why the evangelism either way?

    • s

      sunscreens with chemical filters make my skin burn, so i've been through my fair share of mineral sunscreens. however, homemade sunscreen is never the best route to take. ever. you have literally no idea how high an spf you are getting, and whatever spf you do get will not be consistent throughout the formula. sunscreens HAVE to be made using lab-grade equipment, and they HAVE to be tested in a lab. otherwise it's not a sunscreen, just an oil with some unevenly distributed zinc oxide.

    • bluesky557

      It's not about being anti-DIY, it's about warning others away from something that is irresponsible at best, and dangerous at worst.

  • s

    i really don't mean to sound rude, but if you're saying that cosmetic chemists - who have years of studies behind them, work with creating cosmetics, and have access to labs and lab-grade equipment - can't create safe sunscreens, exactly how is some random person going to be able to whip up something superior in their kitchen?

  • bluesky557

    Well stated. I'm really disappointed that ITG is promoting this kind of bunk garbage.

  • bluesky557

    Seriously. This. It's irresponsible in the worst way, like telling someone to cure their cancer with green juice instead of chemo. Ugh.

  • bluesky557

    Do not make your own sunscreen. It's a terrible idea.

  • bluesky557

    Unless you are a chemist with access to professional, lab-grade equipment, you are definitely not chemically inclined enough!

  • Rachel

    Ooooh, lots of anger on this one. I will say the real tragedy of commercial sunscreen is that in order to gauge to spf and have it certified is via animal testing...from what I understand

  • Nail Girl

    You're missing the point. The problem is that this formula has no guarantee of providing ANY SPF protection at all and advocacy of it is incredibly irresponsible when there are safe, proven alternatives made my people who know what they're doing. Maybe you should get real.

  • Daisy Spotebi

    Great recipe, thanks! I just shared some natural recipes of sunscreen & after sun lotion at Spotebi: beauty & fashion blog, with a guide of the SPF in different oils.
    xo, Daisy

  • Esther

    By the logic of the SPF of each of the ingredients, why would you bother mixing all these and not just simply use the highest SPF ingredient (carrot seed oil)? Does it disintegrate under UV rays or something?

  • Lliss

    Shut up..

  • Lliss

    There are choices in life. If you don't like it DONT DO IT!


Nourish Organic Raw Shea Butter
NDA Wholesale
Zinc Oxide Powder, Non-Nano
RMS Raw Coconut Cream
NDA Wholesale
Beeswax Granules, Cosmetic Grade
C.O. Bigelow
C.O. Bigelow Essential Oil – Carrot Seed
Awaken My Senses
Red Raspberry Seed Oil
Simply Organic
Organic Vanilla Extract
Jason Pure Beauty Oil Vitamin E Oil