How To Make Homemade Sunscreen

homemade sunscreenThe first sunburns of the season have begun showing up at my house this week! My daughter’s boyfriend Neil was sporting a DOOZY of a sunburn Friday afternoon after attending an outdoor concert SANS SUNSCREEN, and No. 1 son Erik helped a friend dig fence posts on Friday SANS SUNSCREEN and ended up looking slightly lobster-like! *sigh*

Homemade or store-bought…you have to put the sunscreen ON boys! :-)

This reminded me of the growing number of requests I have been getting lately for a natural alternative to store-bought sunscreen. I have to admit I never really gave it much thought before this, but after reading about what is in some sunscreens, I figured a “natural” homemade alternative sounded pretty good (not to mention WAY less expensive.)

Studies show that many sunscreen ingredients (avobenzone, octyl methoxycinnamate, and oxybenzone to name a few) have toxic properties that are absorbed through the skin and end up circulating in your bloodstream. These are called chemical barrier sunscreens.

homemade sunscreenThe ingredients in PHYSICAL barrier sunscreens, on the other hand, are zinc oxide and/or titanium oxide.

These types of sunscreens are considered the safest sunscreens to use, especially when combined with ingredients like the ones in this recipe I found on

The person who posted it lives in Hawaii and said a lot of surfers there make their own sunscreen similar to this recipe, and she adds that she’s never been burned while using it.

1/4 cup Diaper Rash Cream (I used Desitin Maximum Strength)
1 tablespoon Coconut Oil
1 tablespoon Cocoa Butter
1 tablespoon Aloe Vera Gel
1 teaspoon Sesame Oil
1 teaspoon Beeswax
5-10 drops Lavender Essential Oil (optional)

Put all the ingredients in a glass bowl set on top of a pan of boiling water and melt all the ingredients together. Allow mixture to cool and then add your favorite essential oil (if desired).  Just make sure to avoid any of the CITRUS essential oils as they can actually cause burning. Store in a cool, dry place or in the fridge.

This recipe has an SPF of about 30. Once you know the percentage of zinc oxide in the diaper rash cream you use, you can estimate the SPF. For example, the Desitin Maximum Strength I used has 40% zinc oxide which would be an SPF of 60…but since it’s diluted by half with the other ingredients I would says the SPF is approximately 30. 


homemade sunscreen

This recipe made the perfect amount to fill one of these travel size bottles you can buy at the grocery store.


homemade sunscreen

My daughter-in-law Kaitlyn and I tested it out this afternoon and were both really pleased with it!

homemade sunscreen

It rubbed in easily, felt moisturizing but not greasy, smelled good, and even gave our skin a little bit of a “glow” which we both commented on and liked! Just a little beauty bonus. :-) Since it contains Beeswax it should be fairly water resistant as well. But be sure and re-apply after swimming or  every 2 hours.

A couple more things I thought were worth mentioning here about sunscreen:

  • a common mistake people make is applying too LITTLE sunscreen, which can drastically reduce its’ effective SPF. About 1 ounce (5-6 teaspoons) of sunscreen is recommended to cover the entire body.
  • sunscreen should be applied at least 30 minutes before going outdoors.

Hopefully now you are more informed and better prepared to naturally protect yourself from harmful sunburns this summer.


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  1. Tamsyn says

    I’m curious about the SPF of this recipe, as currently my family (DH, 2 DS’s and myself) all require SPF50+ due to fair and sensitive skin (my youngest DS has Ichthyosis and needs lots of creams and lotions for his dry skin). I would like to be able to compare.

  2. Ayshela says

    I haven’t had kids of age to need diaper cream in decades, so I can’t just look at a label… what’s IN Desitin? Does it have any of the parabens that cause problems for those of us with chronic health issues?

  3. Lelah says

    I have seen recipes that call for titanium oxide, instead of Desitin, so maybe people could try that if they are wary of using the chemicals in the diaper cream. Though I have to say that stuff is awesome for diaper rashes. ;)

    Oh, and yes – get sunscreen on those boys! Or they will end up like my hubby who really dodged a bullet by catching his melanoma early (at age 36)! He “only” has two NASTY scars on his back. And ONLY has to see his doctor 4x a year for a full-body mole check.

    • April says

      I second that Lelah, I was only 31 when mine was found, and also caught early, so I only have 1 nasty scar on my chest (s0 far… my doc said I’d likely have more as the years go by, I’m hoping that the pale, frankenstein-y look becomes fashionable in the future lol, and if not, well, hey, alive is always more stylish than dead, right?…so I’ll be thankful for every scar if that means I’m still around to slather the sunscreen on my son year after year!). I think that alot of people associate melanoma with tanning bed use or only with much older people who have had years of sun exposure, but more and more that’s not the case. The scariest statistic that I’ve heard since all this started is that one blistering sunburn in childhood doubles the chance for melanoma, as does 5 or more sunburns of any degree at any age in life! yikes, right? Geesh, I can’t even count how many I’ve had, especially when I was a teenager… so anyway, If I don’t stop I’ll go on forever about this and start spitting out lots more stats and rising death rates, and so on and so on… (seriously.. I will… ask my family… the last time my sister mentioned she got burned, I asked her if I needed to drive to her house and actually put the sunscreen on her! lol)… ok, so back to the actual topic here… sunscreen = good…. sunscreen without scary chemicals = even better! (just use alot and make sure its provides a high enough spf!) :)

  4. says

    I completely forgot to add the information about the SPF to the post! My bad! I have updated the post with this information:

    This recipe has an SPF of about 30. Once you know the percentage of zinc oxide in the diaper rash cream you use, you can estimate the SPF. For example, the Desitin Maximum Strength I used has 40% zinc oxide which would be an SPF of 60…but since it’s diluted by half with the other ingredients I would says the SPF is approximately 30.

    Hope this helps!

  5. says

    Wonderful! My son and his friend went to the pool yesterday for the first time all season. I slathered him with sunscreen, and when he got home he was covered in what looked like 2nd degree blisters, and they hurt him terribly. Needless to say, I was furious thinking that the sunscreen hadn’t worked. (They were only there for 2 hours, and it was supposedly waterproof.)

    Turns out, he’d had an allergic reaction to this particular brand of sunscreen. As soon as he’d showered, the “blisters” started to fade. Thank goodness I figured out what was going on so I could give him some Benadryl and stop the reaction. I’m going to make this homemade version this week rather than risk that happening again. Thanks!

  6. Vivienne Grainger says

    Thanks so much for this recipe. I did want to let people know that they might wish to skip using floral essential oils if they are going to be in a park or rural setting, as those oils are an absolute magnet for bees. I’ve only been stung twice in my life, and both times, I was wearing essential oils when it happened.

    Oils derived from leaves might be safe, but I haven’t researched it, having no wish to be stung again!

    Heatherfish: olive oil? And no allergy is “ridiculous.” I’ve now got one to bee stings …

    • Sharada says

      Vivienne thank you for that I would have never thought about it until I got stung and ended up in the ER –LOL I am allergic to bees and so is my 16 year old daughter. SOmetimes we just do things without thinking–LOL I know I am very much a blonde and I love it :)

  7. kim says

    I’ve been wondering about DIY sunscreen. The store bought stuff is so darned expensive! I realize you’re going for all homemade/natural here, but to simplify it couldn’t you just mix zinc oxide or Desitin with hand/body cream and call it a day? I guess you’d have to add the beeswax if you wanted it to be waterproof….

    • Jill Klasen says

      Essential Oil SUNSCREEN

      4 oz. Sweet Almond Oil
      2 drops Helechrysum Essential Oil
      8 drops lavender Essential Oil
      4 drops Frankincense Essential Oil
      1 drop Peppermint Essential Oil
      1-2 capsule Sulfurzyme

      These are available from Young Living.
      Let me know if you have questions! THANKS!

    • Jill Klasen says

      All-Natural SUNSCREEN

      4 oz. Sweet Almond Oil
      2 drops Helechrysum Essential Oil
      8 drops lavender Essential Oil
      4 drops Frankincense Essential Oil
      1 drop Peppermint Essential Oil
      1-2 capsule Sulfurzyme

      These are available from Young Living.
      Let me know if you have questions! THANKS!

    • Jill Klasen says

      All- Natural SUNSCREEN using Essential Oils

      4 oz. Sweet Almond Oil
      2 drops Helechrysum Essential Oil
      8 drops lavender Essential Oil
      4 drops Frankincense Essential Oil
      1 drop Peppermint Essential Oil
      1-2 capsule Sulfurzyme

      These are available from Young Living.
      Let me know if you have questions! THANKS!

  8. Danielle says

    I agree with Jill above on the desitin, it is not good at all. The zinc oxide can be found in other products without all of the other chemicals. Also as far the essential oils go, the lavender isn’t going to provide you with any properties that aid in protection from the sun, it works well as an alternative to the after sun lotions or gels that are out there and does an excellent job on sunburns, but since we are trying to stay away from the sunburns with this wonderful homemade product I would reccomend Helichrysum Italicum essential oil as this does have sun protection properties and is very nurishing to the skin as well.

  9. Jenn says

    Actually, the putting on sunscreen 30 minutes before you go out rule only applies to chemical sunscreens, which need that time to absorb into your skin. Barrier sunscreens create an immediate barrier to the sun and can be applied at any time. And there’s lots of places you can buy Zinc Oxide online that doesn’t have nano particles and is probably cheaper then buying diaper rash cream. This is one which doesn’t contain nano particles:

    • Alex says

      Unfortunately, just about all cosmetics, soaps, etc are NOT FDA approved. We are misled to believe in their safety when in reality those products are independently tested or not tested at all. It’s important to read labels and research ingredients. All natural/homemade is definitely an excellent option.

    • Tiffany says

      The FDA doesn’t approve of Vitamin C but they do approve of aspartame. FDA approval isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Aside from that, she didn’t make any medical claims. Estimating the SPF level is not a medical claim. Not even close.

    • Jen S. says

      I was going to ask about other e.oils too. Like Tea Tree to help add insect deterrent to it but I would be using it on my 2 & 4 yo children so unsure which e.oils would be best to add.

    • Jill Klasen says

      Purification is a wonderful blean of essential oils that works amazing as a DIY Bugspray! We use it all weekend and no bug bites! Love the smelll too! My kids don’t go to bed stinky :-)

  10. says

    You can buy a tube of just plain zinc oxide cream at Walmart (at least I did when I lived in FL). Most pharmacies should carry it. It’s a cream in a tube and all of the lifeguards I knew used it. It’s the white “gunk” they plastered on their noses. They would have completely white noses and ears to keep the sun off of those parts as those places are the first to burn and the hardest to remove any growths on due to not much underlying skin. hth

  11. Rachel Loveridge says

    More on zinc oxide, just FYI, from the same article that Alma posted above:

    —Ma’s research on zinc oxide’s effect on cells is still in the early stages, so he cautions people from drawing conclusions about the safety or dangers of sunscreen based on this preliminary research.

    “More extensive study is still needed,” May says. “This is just the first step.”

    For instance, Ma plans to conduct electron spin resonance tests to see whether zinc oxide truly does generate free radicals, as he suspects. In addition, clinical trials will be needed before any conclusive evidence may be drawn from his studies.

    In the meantime, Ma advises sunbathers to use sunscreen and to limit their exposure to the sun.

    “I still would advise people to wear sunscreen,” he says. “Sunscreen is better than no protection at all.”—


  12. Jill Klasen says

    Here is a great Sunburn Spry also!

    2 oz. distilled water
    10 drops lavender
    5 drops peppermint

    Mix in spray bottle.
    Store in fridge and spray as necessary.

  13. Keisha says

    Hello, my name is Keisha and I ran across a comment post from a ‘Jill’ who mentioned that she had an all natural recipe for homemade sunscreen and also mentioned that if anyone wanted the recipe to email her, but I didnt see her email address. Is there any way I could get that recipe Jill???

  14. deniseinark says

    It should be noted here that the opinions of the EWG (Environmental Working Group) are not without their own controversy. People or groups whose opinions are obviously in their own interest lack credibility whether they are screaming alarmists or go the other way and say that there is no need for any concern at all. There are people who stand to make money by making us believe their claims, and those people can be found everywhere, even posting comments on blogs.

  15. Katherine says

    I notice that you use lavender essential oil in a lot of things. Could you do a post on essential oils about which ones are skin safe? I know that not all of them are (cinnamon essential oil is definitely not skin safe and when I see people post diy face mask recipes with it as an ingredient, I just shake my head). Basically anything that is skin safe won’t cause tingling or burning, like menthol commonly does. “Tingling” doesn’t mean its working people!

    Also the reason why you don’t want to use citrus essential oils is because they cause phototoxicity.

  16. Honey says

    The sunblock you made needs to be left on the surface of the skin as a coating, not rubbed right in like a traditional sunscreen. I used a natural sunblock pretty similar to what your recipe is and got a terrible burn. My kids also detested the lavender essential oil in the sunblock, as did my niece (she would cry when she saw her mum with the bottle). It was a very expensive summer, that stuff was $25/bottle!
    Cancer agents or not, I’m back to my Neutrogena spf100.

  17. Lona says

    Well Desitin had been used on babies as long as I can remember. I don’t recall any stories about it causing problems. I remember that the lifeguards at the pool would have it on their nose. Sometimes the stuff came in colors. I don’t think Jillee is shoving this recipe on anyone. Use what you want but it’s pretty rude to spam her blog like that. Keep up the good work Jillee! You have come up with some of the greatest time and money saving ideas that I have ever heard of and I’m in my sixties.

  18. Alex S says

    @Jill Klassen I did a little math here on your recipe as well as some research on the ingredients . In order for me to make a few ounces of some potion based on a person’s recommendation whom I’ve never heard of before, (other than a storm of posts in reply to Jillee’s), I would need to invest $328.05 to start:

    4 oz. Sweet Almond Oil $6
    2 drops Helechrysum Essential Oil-$103.62
    8 drops lavender Essential Oil $28.62
    4 drops Frankincense Essential Oil $91.78
    1 drop Peppermint Essential Oil $25.99
    1-2 capsule Sulfurzyme $72.04
    Total: $328.05
    (All prices are from Young Living for the exception of Almond Oil). Additionally, and most importantly neither of the ingredients listed are described as having UVA/UVB blocking or absorbing properties. How do you suggest your so enticingly sounding “all natural” sunscreen will protect my child or myself from sunburn? Especially if Helechrysum should be “avoided using on infants and very small children” ? I would agree that infants shouldn’t be in the sun at all, but what age do they considered very small children to be??? 6 months? 1 year? 3 year olds?
    Readers, before you waste hundreds of dollars on a bunch of oils that will not protect you or your child from sunburn, and maybe toxic to small children, please consider using products that are FDA approved and have been scientifically proven to protect from harmful rays, like Zinc Oxide. On the other hand, there is not one conclusive study out there that states that Zinc Oxide should not be used at all in sun screens.

    Sorry for the long post-just my 2 cents

  19. Gwyn says

    I have seen zinc oxide cream. Unfortunately I don’t remember where but it does exist and I believe it was just straight zinc oxide, though something made it cream…but it wasn’t a diaper cream necessarily, maybe that would help.

  20. Gwyn says

    I use and love Young Living oils as well but I have to say as soon as I saw the recipe posted I knew it was far too expensive to make to be anything I could swing or practical for most. Helliacrisim oil has many uses that I would really like to explore, before sun block actually but it’s very expensive. I have no doubt the recipe offered works and smells wonderful but I am far more able to try the one posted originally. I think you can find just zinc oxide cream without the additives of diaper creams too. I have come across some other natural sun screens both that you digest and that can be applied but unfortunately can’t remember what they are. I don’t like the slimy feel of many sunscreens which is the problem with many barrier types for me that don’t absorb well so I’m hoping that this one isn’t like that and doesn’t have to work that way. Thank you for sharing your ideas this looks like a weath of great ideas and information. Can’t wait to explore it some more.

    • Jill says

      I felt the same regarding making the sunscreen using the YL products. BUT I got a few oil friends together and we all split it. It ended up costing us each $28 and we all have enough to make sunscreen for the entire summer. I even made a sunscreen stick by adapting the recipe a little! Let me know if you want the recipe.

  21. Rebecca says

    Does anyone know how a lanolin-based product would do when converted into a homemade sunscreen? I don’t have much experience with Desitin ( not that I have anything at all against the product or its ingredients! ), but I do have experience with using Corona Cream (ingredients below) for a diaper rash. It was made for the udders of cows and horses to help sooth suckle rash ( chapping ) and keep the teats from drying out and cracking painfully. Following my first use of that, I never bought another tube of Desitin for anything! Extremely severe diaper rash – gone in one use and never came back when used as a protectant!!

    Corona Cream Ointment Ingredients –
    Active Ingredient:
    30% Lanolin.

    Inactive Ingredients:
    Beeswax (yellow wax), Disodium EDTA, Fragrance, Lanolin Alcohol, Mineral Oil, Oxyquinoline, Petrolatum, Purified Water, Sodium Borate, Sorbitan Sesquioleate


    Corona Udder Butter Ingredients –
    Active Ingredient: Petrolatum 68%

    Also contains: Castor Oil, Emulsifier, Fragrance, lanolin, Neatsfoot Oil, and Oxyquinoline

    I am a redhead, and I am incredibly pale; I sunburn so very easily and find it — first — an affront that sunscreen ( to assist with my health ) is so expensive, and — second — frustrating having to find a good SPF 9,000 to use. ( Of course I jest, but it sometimes feels like it’s that strong! )

  22. Gwyn says

    I think it’s the zinc oxide in the diaper rash cream that is the key ingredient for the sun screen. At least that’s the way I am understanding it. So the one you mentioned would probably be fine to includ but wouldn’t be a substation for the zinc oxide. I believe you can find straight zinc oxide though in cream form that might not have the other ingredients you are trying to avoid. Mind younI am not an expert though.

  23. Mrs. P says

    Instead of using a commercially made diaper rash ointment, I would recommend purchasing a bag of zinc oxide. You can buy it online and it’s fairly inexpensive, a little goes a long way. I use 3 tblsp in my recipe, which is similar to this one. It’s non-toxic, but you want to make sure not to breathe in the powder. It’s worked great for my 4 kids all summer!

  24. Chelsea says

    Can someone explain the purpose of the beeswax in this recipe? Is it an emulsifier, moisturizer or helps with water proofing? It’s not easily accessible or cheap where I live so I’m hoping I can jut omit it. Thanks :)

  25. Pam says

    Hi there! I just made a batch and was wondering….what part smells good? :) I doubled the lavender EO and i still smell the desitin…..oh well, if it works, i can probably handle the smell….

  26. molly says

    Titanium Dioxide may be a safer alternative.

    My best insect repellent recipe:

    20 drops essential oil each of the following:
    Peppermint oil
    Lavender oil
    Tea Tree oil

    Mix with 4-6 ounces Witch Hazel (as the carrier; Witch Hazel contains a natural alcohol, which acts as a natural preservative.

    Geranium Rose can be added to repel ticks, but, dispite the name, it doesn’t smell very good.

  27. Karen says

    TO Jillee! A lot of your other posts, you mention the cost savings on sunscreen, and I am curious about how much YOUR RECIPE costs not the other recipes posted over and over or comments.

    Destin in my opinion is safe, I don’t buy into all the alarmists type websites and studies. It isn’t cheap, I don’t have young children to just have it at home. Although I have bought it to reduce chafing when training.

  28. Jody says

    Didn’t the pioneers just put on long sleeves and then a flour & milk mixture on their faces and hands to keep sun off? (yuk) I like your idea of using the Desitin or zinc cream in a homemade cream. I love the homemade creams with beeswax, coconut oil, mango butter and such. Thanks for sharing this idea, Jillee.

  29. Nestor Stoeger says

    During the past decades doctors have become increasingly aware of the increase in skin cancer in the United States and that all people need to protect themselves from ultraviolet radiation (UV). The harm caused by UV includes premature aging (such as wrinkling and age spots), skin cancer, and permanent, sometimes blinding, damage to eyes.`….-

    My web page

  30. mary says

    From DIYNatural: 1 oz coconut oil, 0.8 oz shea butter, 0.1 oz jojoba, sesame, or sunflower oil; 0.1 oz vit E oil; 30 drops essential oils optional (15 gtt lavender, 10 gtt eucalyptus, 5 peppermint eg); zinc oxide power (determine amount for 2 oz lotion).
    Directions: add coconut oil, shea butter, and your choice of jojoba-sesame-sunflower, to a double boiler & heat gently. Cool. Wearing a mask to avoid inhaling particles, add zinc oxide power, also vitamin E, and optional essential oils. Store in a dark jar in the fridge.

    The ingredients differ a bit from Jillee’s. I am researching this now because pale-face niece is now living in the tropics and pale family will be visiting, as well. On the Whole Foods website, I learned: “…choose sunscreen that not only protects but nourishes with high levels of nutrient-rich ingredients, including green tea, soy, milk thistle, shea butter, sea buckthorn, and carrot oil.”

    I do wish to keep costs down, but my niece is going to fry, so I will try to make something containing all the magic ingredients above. Thanks for getting me motivated, Jillee. Everything on St. Thomas has to be imported, so there will be few choices in over the counter products; this will be most appreciated there.


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