The Truth About Sunscreen + A Natural, Homemade Alternative
With temperatures rising steadily around the country, it’s important to start thinking about sun protection. There are two types of sun protection available: sunscreen and sunblock. These are further divided into chemical and physical.
Physical agents actually sit on the skin and block UV radiation. They work by reflecting or scattering UV radiation before it reaches your skin. Both zinc oxide and titanium dioxide provide broad spectrum UVA and UVB protection and are gentle enough for everyday use. Because these are physical blocking agents and not chemicals, they're especially useful for individuals with sensitive skin, as they rarely cause skin irritation.
On the other hand, chemical agents work by absorbing the energy of UV radiation before it affects your skin. Most chemical agents that work as sunscreen are composed of several active ingredients as no single chemical ingredient blocks the entire UV spectrum. In order to be fully protected by UVA and UVB light, you must combine multiple chemicals.
So instead of stocking up on the toxic stuff this summer, protect yourself and your family from the sun with a safer, DIY alternative.
Some research suggests that coconut oil has an SPF of 7.1 and Almond oil has an SPF of 4.6, with zinc oxide increasing the SPF. Don't use essential oils for this recipe as some can be toxic when exposed to the sun. For more information on how to choose the best sun protection, check out the Environmental Working Group's "Guide to Sunscreen."
Place the oils and beeswax into a glass mason jar, secure the lid loosely and submerge it in a pot of boiling water. Shake or stir the jar occasionally to melt ingredients. It can take up to 15 minutes for the beeswax to completely dissolve at medium heat.
When all the ingredients are melted, remove the jar from the heat and carefully add the zinc oxide. You'll have to stir the mixture well to incorporate the zinc oxide evenly. Remember, when working with zinc oxide, take extreme care not to inhale the particles — cover your nose and mouth with a mask.
Pour into whatever jar or tin you'll use for storage. Stir a few times as it cools to make sure zinc oxide is incorporated. Use as you would regular sunscreen. Best if used within six months.
The best protection from the sun is to stay in the shade or wear protective clothing and a hat. I encourage you to speak with your health care practitioner before making changes to your sun protection.