How to make a natural sunscreen at home - Summer Tips from your Friendly Neighborhood Acupuncturist in SW Portland
Apparently this month I'm all about making things, which given the season isn't a huge surprise. The summer months for my family (now in Ridgefield instead of Portland, technically) involve a lot of entertaining, time spent outdoors and time spent with dear friends and their families. We make suet for the birds, garden, hike, gather (hooray for berry season!) and cook. Involving the kids is always key, and with a recipe like this it can be easy to do! It is recommended to keep the kids well masked or just keep them away when adding the zinc oxide, however - you can have them pre-measure everything else with you and then encourage them to go play during the cook phase, depending on their age.
The reason behind the recipe - the sun - is both friend and foe. The sun is key to life on earth and we do need all the Vitamin D we can get in the Pacific NW, but we also have one of the highest Melanoma rates in the country here. Why? We don't have a definitive answer, but I personally believe it is because we are very complacent about the sun - we don't tend to wear sunscreen in cloudy weather (YES, THE SUN's UV RAYS PASS THROUGH CLOUDS) and when we do see the sun, we feel so deprived many people don't even think about sunscreen.
Sun protection is extremely important, especially in the Pacific NW, to protect against harmful UV-rays and to prevent skin cancer. It is also important, however that the next time you pick out your sunscreen, pay careful attention to what you’re buying. Many common sunscreens actually contain chemicals that can be harmful to your body. But thanks to the recipe below, you can easily make your own sunscreen out of simple ingredients. Its fun, natural and effective!
Chemicals to avoid in common sunscreens:
Nano or Micronized mineral particles
There are several and easy ways to make effective and natural homemade sunscreen.
1 oz. Coconut oil
.8 oz. Shea butter
.1 oz. Jojoba oil or sunflower oil
30 drops ( 15 of each) Eucalyptus and lavender essential oils
.1 oz Vitamin E oil
The amount of zinc oxide you choose to use will determine the amount of SPF in your sunscreen. For more than SPF 20, use 20% zinc oxide, for SPF 12-19 use 15% zinc oxide.
Directions: First step is to combine coconut oil, shea butter and jojoba/sesame/sunflower oil into a Pyrex measuring up. Next, make a double boiler by placing the Pyrex inside a pot filled with 2-3 inches of water. Heat on low until the shea butter is melted. Remove from double boiler and let cool. After cooled, wear a mask to cover your nose and mouth when you measure out the zinc oxide to avoid inhaling fine particles. Add the zinc oxide, Vitamin E oil and essential oils to the original mixture. Stir until ingredients are mixed. The last step is to pour the mixture into a dark jar and refrigerate.
Homemade sunscreen can last for around 6 months and should be refrigerated. Apply generously to skin and reapply every few hours while during periods of sun exposure.
Until next time! - Rebecca
Rebecca M H Kitzerow is a Licensed Acupuncturist practicing in La Center, Washington. With over a decade of experience she has won 10 Nattie consumer choice awards from Natural Awakenings Magazine since 2014.