How to Make Sunscreen

Three Parts:Making Sunscreen with Oil, Beeswax, and OxideCreating Your Own Sunscreen RecipeLearning About Sun Protection

Many commercial sunscreen products contain chemicals that can be harmful to one’s health.[1] As a result, some people have begun making their own sunscreens using natural oils, waxes, and oxide powders. Note that although it is possible to make a viable sunscreen with these ingredients, health professionals advise against it as there is no way to confirm the level of UV protection that homemade sunscreens provide.

Part 1
Making Sunscreen with Oil, Beeswax, and Oxide

  1. Image titled Make Sunscreen Step 1
    Gather your ingredients. This recipe makes 11 ounces of sunscreen with an estimated SPF of 10 to 15:
    • 1 cup Olive oil or other natural oil (grocery store)
    • 1 oz (28 g) Pure beeswax (health food store or online)
    • 1 to 2 tbsp USP grade zinc oxide or titanium dioxide powder (health food store, pharmacy or online)
    • Essential oil (optional)
  2. 2
    Gather your tools. In addition to your ingredients, you’ll need the following tools for making the sunscreen. These tools should only be used for making sunscreen, as residual oxide powder could leech into your food and make you ill.
    • Saucepan
    • Heat-resistant glass jar (optional, if using double-boiler method)
    • Spoon for stirring
    • Gloves and face mask
    • Stove
    • Storage container with lid (glass jar, ceramic pot, or plastic bottle will do)
  3. Image titled Make Sunscreen Step 3
    Pour the base oil into a saucepan and heat it. If you’re using a gas stove, use a low flame. If you’re using an electric stove, set your element to a medium heat.
    • To ensure the integrity of the ingredients, you might try using a double-boiler method to melt them instead of placing them directly in the saucepan. This will also save you from having to only use your saucepan for making sunscreen.
    • To use the double-boiler method, heat an inch or two of water in a saucepan until it’s simmering, then mix the ingredients (NOT including the oxide powder) in a heat-resistant glass jar and place the jar upright into the water, allowing it to sit there until all of the ingredients are melted together.
  4. Image titled Make Sunscreen Step 4
    Add 1 ounce of beeswax to the saucepan. If it’s not already in pearls or broken into pieces, you’ll need to grate or chop the beeswax into small pieces before adding it to the oil. This will help it melt faster.
    • The beeswax makes the resulting product viscous, like a skin cream. It’s what holds the oxide in suspension so that it doesn’t all sink down to the bottom of the container.
    • For a thicker, heavier sunscreen, add more beeswax. For one that is lighter and smooths on more easily, add a little less beeswax.[2]
  5. Image titled Make Sunscreen Step 5
    Stir constantly until the beeswax is completely melted in the hot oil. You want the ingredients to be completely melted together before you add the oxide powder.
  6. Image titled Make Sunscreen Step 6
    Add your essential oil (optional). If you want to add a fragrance to your sunscreen via an essential oil, now is the time to do it. Lavender oil is a popular choice, and has a natural SPF of up to 6.[3]
    • Just use a couple of drops to ensure that it’s not an overly strong or irritating smell, especially if you intend to use it on your face.
  7. 7
    Put on your protective gear. Wear gloves and a face mask to protect you from coming in direct contact with the oxide powder. In particular, you want to protect yourself from inhaling it, which can be dangerous to your health.[4]
    • As an extra precaution you can also wear safety goggles, which will protect your eyes in case anything splashes up when you add the powder to the hot oil solution.
    • As you’ll be dealing with hot oil, make sure that the gloves you wear are heat-resistant and won’t melt if any oil splashes up on to them. Heat-resistant rubber gloves will work well. Just make sure they fit you well so that you can still use your hands without feeling clumsy.
  8. Image titled Make Sunscreen Step 8
    Add 1 to 2 tbsp of oxide powder to the melted mixture. Add just a little bit at a time while constantly stirring to ensure that the mixture is well blended. The oxide powder must be evenly distributed throughout the mixture to make an effective sunscreen.
    • You can use either zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, although zinc oxide seems to be more common amongst DIY sunscreen makers.
    • Make sure the powder is USP grade, which means that it is suitable for food, drug, or medicinal use.
  9. Image titled Make Sunscreen Step 9
    Remove from heat and pour into storage container. Once everything is mixed together, remove the mixture from the stove and pour it into its storage container. Small mason jars with lids are highly recommended.
    • Depending on the thickness of your mixture, you might be able to get away with a squeeze bottle. A wide-mouthed jar will make it easier for you to stir the solution while it cools though, and less of the solution will be likely to go to waste.
    • If you’re pouring the mixture into a container with a narrow neck, use a pastry bag to squeeze the sunscreen through. It will likely be too thick for a funnel. Just make sure that the sunscreen isn’t still very hot while you do this lest you burn yourself.
  10. 10
    Stir while cooling to ensure even distribution. As the mixture cools, stir it every 5 to 10 minutes to ensure that the oxide powder remains evenly distributed throughout the mixture.[5]
  11. Image titled Make Sunscreen Step 11
    Allow to cool to room temperature before use. Once the sunscreen is room temperature, you can put it on your skin. Note that the sunscreen should be opaque. If it looks translucent, the oxide has likely sunk to the bottom of the container.
    • The oxide can settle when the sunscreen is cooling. It can also sink to the bottom of the container if it is out in the heat for too long. It’s important to stir it or shake it up before use in these situations, so that you get the full protective benefits of the oxide.
  12. 12
    Label, date and store in a cool place. It’s best if you can use this, or any other homemade sunscreens, within six months of making it.[6] Make sure you keep it in a cool, dry place.
    • If the sunscreen gets too hot or too cold, the ingredients might shift. If the oxide powder isn’t evenly distributed throughout the sunscreen, it will not be effective.
    • If the sunscreen melts or hardens, you will need to stir the sunscreen to evenly distribute the oxide powder once it’s back at room temperature and a regular thickness.

Part 2
Creating Your Own Sunscreen Recipe

  1. 1
    Explore other DIY sunscreen recipes. Explore what recipes other DIY sunscreen makers are using. This will give you a sense of what ingredients are popular, and what ingredients you may want to use.
  2. 2
    Try this DIY sunscreen recipe. One DIY sunscreen maker suggests the following recipe, which combines several different oils. Simply melt all of the ingredients EXCEPT the zinc oxide together, then add the zinc oxide, cool, and you’re done.[7]
    • 1/2 cup Almond or olive oil
    • 1/4 cup Coconut oil
    • 1 tsp Red raspberry oil (optional)
    • 1 tsp Carrot seed oil (optional)
    • 1 tsp Vitamin E oil (optional)
    • A few drops of essential oils of your choosing (optional)
    • 2 tbsp Shea butter
    • 1/4 cup Beeswax
    • 2 tbsp zinc oxide
  3. 3
    Change DIY sunscreen recipes to suit your own tastes. Once you’ve read or even tried other DIY sunscreen recipes, such as the ones in this article, you can add your own ingredients to the sunscreen to tailor it to your tastes.
    • As an example, you might add lavender oil and cut the beeswax content of the DIY recipes in this article for a lighter, lavender-scented sunscreen that easily smooths over your skin.
  4. Image titled Make Sunscreen Step 16
    Know the different base oils. The base oil is the oil that you will use the most of in your homemade sunscreen recipe. Popular base oils include olive oil (SPF 7-8), coconut oil (SPF 7), castor oil (SPF 6), and almond oil (SPF 5).[8]
  5. Image titled Make Sunscreen Step 17
    Check the SPF of essential oils before using them. Popular essential oils to use in sunscreen include peppermint (SPF 7), tulsi (SPF 7), and lavender (SPF 6).[9] Avoid citrus oils (e.g. Bergamot or Citron) as they will boost your chances of burning.[10]
  6. 6
    Try red raspberry seed oil. Red raspberry seed oil is a popular choice amongst DIY sunscreen makers, who claim that it has an SPF of 25 to 50.[11] You can add a small amount of it to your sunscreen to boost its SPF level.
  7. 7
    Try carrot seed oil. With an SPF of 35 to 40, carrot seed oil is a DIYer favorite.[12] Try adding a small amount of carrot seed oil to your homemade sunscreen to enhance its SPF level.
  8. Image titled Make Sunscreen Step 20
    Experiment with shea butter. Shea butter is believed to have a natural SPF of 4 to 6. Adding it to your sunscreen will help thicken it. Shea butter is also a great moisturizer, and will leave your skin feeling soft and smooth.
  9. Image titled Make Sunscreen Step 21
    Always add an oxide to your sunscreen. The most important ingredient in homemade sunscreen is oxide, which comes in the form of either zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. Both of these offer protection against UVA and UVB rays, and are an absolute must.
    • The more oxide you use in your sunscreen mixture, the more protection you’ll get. Sunscreens commonly come in concentrations of between 5% and 25% oxide.[13][14]
    • Both types of oxide are effective, but zinc oxide is believed to offer broader, more effective sun protection.[15]

Part 3
Learning About Sun Protection

  1. 1
    Know the risks involved in making your own sunscreen. The efficacy of your homemade sunscreen is not only based on your ingredients, but on the way in which you’ve made the sunscreen. This is the primary concern expressed by doctors when discussing DIY sunscreen.
    • Doctors worry that even if the ingredients are effective, the way in which they are mixed might undermine them. For instance, if your oxide powder isn’t properly blended with the rest of the ingredients, it might only protect your skin in patches, or worse, not at all.[16]
    • Doctors also warn that since DIY sunscreen makers don’t usually have labs or testing environments for their sunscreen, there is no scientific way to properly measure the level of UV protection their mixtures provide.[17]
  2. 2
    Learn the difference between SPF and broad-spectrum protection. SPF only measures the ability to block UVB rays, which are the rays that burn you. It does not protect against UVA rays, which are what age you. Both types of rays can cause skin cancer.[18]
    • To be properly protected, you must have a sunscreen that protects against booth UVA and UVB rays.
    • This is why it’s so important to have a good amount of oxide powder in your sunscreen. Zinc oxide in particular is good at blocking UVA and UVB rays.[19]
  3. 3
    Eat UV-fighting foods. If you’re interested in boosting your skin’s natural protective barrier against the sun, there are foods that you can eat to help. Note that consuming these things is not enough to protect you from the sun. You must wear sunscreen.[20]
    • Cocoa, green and black tea, micro-algae (chlorella and spirulina), and carotenoids and antioxidants found in fruits and veggies are all great for boosting your skin’s natural ability to fight the sun’s harmful rays.
  4. 4
    Seek alternatives to homemade sunscreen. As reports of dangerous chemicals in store-bought sunscreens have scared people off buying them, natural options have become more popular and affordable.
    • It’s now relatively easy to find sunscreen options that are organic, chemical free, and just as safe as your homemade concoction, with the added benefit of being lab-tested for UV protection.


  • A quick option for making your own sunscreen is to add a couple of tablespoons into a bottle of your favorite lotion and then shake it up.[21] Just make sure the lotion doesn’t contain citrus oils or any other phototoxic ingredients that could make it unsafe for wearing in the sun.
  • To boost your sunscreen’s SPF you can add more oxide powder, but note that this will likely also make the sunscreen go on whiter.
  • If you cannot find the ingredients needed to make your own sunscreen, consider buying a zinc oxide cream from the drugstore. Make sure the content is high enough that you can safely use it as a sunscreen.[22]
  • Both titanium dioxide and zinc oxide protect from UVA and UVB rays. Zinc oxide, however, is even more effective than titanium dioxide.[23]
  • If you’re worried about the white film that zinc can leave behind when applied to your skin, use nano zinc oxide, which has smaller particles than non-nano zinc oxide and won’t leave you smeared in white.[24]
  • Some people recommend using non-nano zinc oxide, as it is not absorbed into the skin and is thus believed to be healthier than nano-zinc oxide. The drawback is that non-nano zinc oxide is more likely to leave a white film on your skin.[25]


  • If your sunscreen is not opaque, the oxide has sunk to the bottom and you will not be protected from the sun’s rays. If it is translucent, you’re not protected.
  • Keep the sunscreen and any leftover oxide powders out of reach of children and pets. It should not be ingested.
  • Keep the sunscreen out of direct heat, otherwise it may melt and the powder will sink down to the bottom of the container. If this happens, give the solution a stir and allow it to cool. You may need to put it in the fridge for a short time, taking it out to stir every once in a while to ensure that the zinc oxide is evenly distributed.
  • To avoid any health risks that can arise from inhaling oxide fumes or consuming oxide, reserve any of the tools you use to make sunscreen only for that purpose. Do not reuse them for food-making purposes once they’ve been used to make sunscreen.
  • Inhaling zinc oxide fumes can be dangerous for your health. For this reason, is important to wear a face mask while adding the powder to your oil solution.
  • Do not use citrus oils in your homemade sunscreen, as they are phototoxic and can cause your skin to burn badly.[26]
  • Many health professionals warn against making your own sunscreen, as there is no way to test its efficacy before it is used. For example, the way you combine the ingredients could render them ineffective, and you won't know that until you wind up with a sunburn.[27]

Things You'll Need

  • Saucepan
  • Heat-resistant glass jar for double boiling (optional)
  • Spoon for stirring
  • Gloves
  • Face mask (to protect from inhaling oxide powder)
  • Protective goggles (optional)
  • Stove, even a camp stove will work fine
  • Storage container
  • Olive oil or another natural oil
  • Pure beeswax
  • Pure (USP grade) zinc oxide or titanium dioxide powder
  • Essential oils (optional)
  • Shea butter (optional)

Sources and Citations

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