DIY: Homemade Sunscreen Recipe

Here in Michigan, we appreciate the spontaneity of the sun during the long, winter months and yearn for the days of spring and summer, when sunrays are the morning’s wake up call and the Clarion call for outdoor activities.

It’s impossible to ignore the risks of exposure to sunlight, but the benefits often go unsung and cause us to unnecessarily fear the golden rays that, in moderation, can actually improve health.

Exposure to sunlight has long been reported to provide Vitamin D, which improves the health of our bones and teeth, while also helping to fight against diseases and depression.

Our second line of defense against harmful sun rays, after layers of clothing, is sunscreen, but sometimes the chemical-laden and commercial sunscreen options, pose their own significant risks.


Whether it’s skin allergies, aversions to smells, or just personal preference, it is always a better option to use natural ingredients on the body.

In this homemade sunscreen recipe, adapted from, you will find a dual-purpose sunscreen option to provide protection for your family organically and naturally, that is fully customizable to suit your family:



  1. Combine ingredients except zinc oxide in a pint sized or larger glass jar. I have a mason jar that I keep just for making lotions and lotion bars, or you can even reuse a glass jar from pickles, olives, or other foods.
  2. Fill a medium saucepan with a couple inches of water and place over medium heat.
  3. Put a lid on the jar loosely and place in the pan with the water.
  4. As the water heats, the ingredients in the jar will start to melt. Shake or stir occasionally to incorporate. When all ingredients are completely melted, add the zinc oxide, stir in well and pour into whatever jar or tin you will use for storage. Small mason jars (pint size) are great for this. It will not pump well with a lotion pump!
  5. Stir a few times as it cools to make sure zinc oxide is incorporated.
  6. Use as you would regular sunscreen. Best if used within six months.

 Additional Notes:

  • This sunscreen is somewhat, but not completely, waterproof and will need to be reapplied after sweating or swimming
  • Make sure not to inhale the Zinc Oxide- use a mask if necessary!
  • This recipe has an SPF of about 15 though adding more Zinc Oxide will increase the SPF
  • Add more beeswax to make a thicker sunscreen, less to make a smoother sunscreen
  • I recommend coconut or vanilla extract or lavender essential oils for fragrance
  • Store in a cool, dry place or in the fridge
  • I prefer to store in a small canning jar and apply like a body butter. It will be thicker, especially if you use coconut oil in the recipe.
  • Remove the Zinc Oxide and this makes an excellent lotion recipe!

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Photo Credit: thedabblist (feature), Hamza Butt via Flickr (inset)

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Read 9 Comments

  1. Where it says essential oils optional, can I put the oils I use as bug spray in it? Would that also make it a bug deterrent?

    1. Heidi,

      Thank you for such an excellent question. We can not advise on the interaction of oils introduced that were not mentioned in the article, but if you decide to tweak the recipe to accommodate for bug deterrence, we would love to know how that turned out!

      Thanks again!!

  2. It should be noted that this should be made for personal use only, not for a handcrafter to sell! Sunscreen is classified as a drug by the FDA. The only way it would be legal for a handcrafter to sell this is if they paid the huge FDA clinical testing fees. Then, if it is even approved, one would have to abide by drug labeling laws. Please put an addendum in your article. I can see so many handcrafters who haven’t bothered to learn the rules before selling, running with this. That is the danger of so many DIY recipes on the internet. Thank you.

    1. Hello Stephy,

      Thank you for your insightful comment. You seem to be very knowledgeable about the commerce aspects of d-i-y projects, we appreciate your suggestions. We would like to stress that this was an informational article and we don’t encourage anyone to sell or market these ideas for a profit. Thank you again!

  3. Ashley,
    This looks to be an excellent recipe. By the way where did you find the mason jar in the picture?

    1. Hi Patricia,

      Thanks so much for reading my article. I am so glad you enjoyed it. You should be able to find a variety of mason jars and neat labels at your houseware or home goods store. Please let us know if you try the sunscreen recipe. Thanks!

    1. Hi Monica,

      Thank you for your question. We included the zinc in the recipe because its addition would automatically make the SPF around 30. There may be a possibility of the essential oil counteracting, but you are welcome to tweak the recipe to your taste.

      Thanks again!

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