I’ve been making my own sunscreen for years.
It started when my oldest son was a baby- he had unthinkably sensitive skin. Every commercial baby soap, lotion, diaper, even diaper rash ointment gave him a rash!
As a result, I was forced into finding acceptible chemical free alternatives. Now what do I mean by chemical? I realize that all matter has chemical structure. Salt (NaCl) is a chemical: sodium chloride. I get it. I’m talking about synthetic chemicals. And yes, I also realize that not everything natural and organic is healthy- shoot even arsenic can be organically derived, that doesn’t mean iy isn’t toxic. Or goodness sakes, deadly nightshade (Atropa belladonna) is HIGHLY toxic. So let’s just leave that whole “chemicals make up our whole lives” discussion at the door, shall we?
Your skin is the largest organ for filtration in your body. It’s the barrier to entry for many harmful substances. That said, it’s also porous and it readily absorbs many things into the body which may cause toxicity to build in your system over time. And if your body is constantly working to remove toxic build up from your internal organs, it has less energy and capacity to perform other necessary functions. That’s why I started making my own sunscreen; to limit the toxic load in my child’s body and protect his skin without causing tertiary damage elsewhere.
The first thing I had to do was research. I know. Least favorite pass-time. But necesaary! So I researched SPF and what it was all about. And which natural plant ingredients contained constituants which contained protection from the sun’s UVA/ UVB rays. Thank God for studious women who’ve gone before me!
So for a base for my sunscreen, I begin with a plantain salve.
To that, I add 2-3 Tablespoons of Zinc oxide per 4 oz. jar. That in itself affords us about SPF 20, which is really plenty for as shaded as our property is. And we reapply if playing in water. However, for more potency, you can add essential oils which offer SPF protection such as red raspberry seed oil or carrot oil. The carrot oil made us smell like a roast beef brisket, so I nixxed it in favor of raspberry seed.
You can also add citronella EO to keep pesty bugs away. Combining that with tea tree, lavender, and peppermint is super effective against mosquitos! My neighbor actually asked what we use for bug repellant, which was, I must admit, a feather in my cap so to speak. It certainly smells better than Deep Woods OFF.
Anyway, the resulting salve is moisturizing, made from whole ingredients, and safe for my babies. I also use it as diaper rash balm. The zinc oxide is the active ingredient in Desitin diaper rash ointment, so you get the healing protectant but without the other additives and preservatives.
Other ways to avoid sunburn- we eat plenty of dark berries, and incidentally, staying hydrated with plenty of quality water helps prevent skin damage and enables your skin to more rapidly heal when burned. I have a theory that drinking aloe water (aloe vera juice) helps prevent sunburn. I haven’t done the research on that but the anecdotal, experiential evidence suggests it may help for the same reasons as external application of the gel works to ease the burn. All I know is that the summer of 2013 when I was drinking 20 oz a day I actually TANNED while running 25 mile weeks, which is NOT typical for this pasty white Irish girl. Someone who has more time to spend on the scientific or medical research on that topic should let me know what they find.