Homemade Sunscreen: A Simple Natural Recipe that Works Great!

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Homemade Sunscreen DIY

Making natural homemade sunscreen is fun and easy. You only need a few simple ingredients to make a skin-nourishing DIY sunscreen that works!

Do you love the sun as much as I do, but hate the chemicals in commercial sunscreen? Then you’ll LOVE this natural homemade sunscreen!

My teen years were spent rebelling against sunscreen and having tanning contests with my older sister. We would lie in the sun (glistening with baby oil) well into the colder fall months – doing everything in our power to hold onto a golden tan until the snow started flying.

I still adore the feel of sunshine on my skin and believe moderate amounts are important to our health, but I’m no longer a fan of endangering my health by overdoing it.

Natural Protection WITHOUT Sunscreen

While we normally suggest allowing your skin to get a good amount of sunshine to provide your body with ample Vitamin D, we do not condone soaking up the sun until you are burnt to a crisp. In years past, people knew how to avoid getting too much sun by following some simple sunny day guidelines:

  • avoid being outside during the middle of the day when the sun’s rays are the hottest
  • seek shade under a tree, umbrella, etc., if being outside during peak sun is necessary
  • wear a large-brimmed hat
  • wear light, loose clothing to cover exposed skin

However, we understand there are times you will not be able to cover up or get out of the sun and may need to use sunscreen. But commercial sunscreens have been a hot topic lately, guilty of containing harsh chemicals and being counterproductive in maintaining healthy skin.

So let’s learn how to safely protect your skin with DIY sunscreen when covering up or getting out of the sun is out of the question.

Ingredients for Natural Sun Protection

There are several oils, butters, essential oils, and other natural ingredients that provide natural sun protection. While most of these offer very low amounts of sun protection, when added to your natural homemade sunscreen they nourish the skin and offer some protection against the effects of excessive sun exposure.

Coconut oil – contains natural SPF properties

Shea butter – naturally protects skin, making it perfect for use in a DIY sunscreen

Jojoba oil, sunflower oil, or sesame oil – these oils are easily absorbed into the skin and also provide some natural sun protection

Eucalyptus and lavender essential oils eucalyptus has very low natural SPF and lavender is great for soothing and repairing skin. DO NOT use citrus essential oils in your DIY sunscreen, as they may increase sensitivity to sunlight. 

Vitamin E oil – nourishes and moisturizes skin, and helps naturally preserve natural homemade sunscreen

Zinc oxide (non-nano)  a non-toxic, usually non-irritating, effective broad-spectrum sunblock. The particles sit on the outermost layer of your skin, scattering and absorbing UVA and UVB rays, protecting the skin below.

Zinc oxide (ZnO), provides true broad-spectrum protection against UVA wavelengths >360 nm.[1]

Be sure to use non-nano zinc oxide to produce a natural homemade sunscreen. We purchased ours here. (The smallest amount you can purchase is a container that will last you years!)


Nano or micronized zinc oxide has been treated to reduce the size of its particles, creating an ultrafine powder. When added to sunscreens it does not leave a white film on the skin, thus making it a popular choice in many commercial sunscreens. The problem with this is that the particles are so small they can enter the body through the skin, causing potential health problems.

We demonstrated that agglomerated ZnO-NPs had toxic effects on mammalian cells, and this effect was dependent on the ZnO concentration and the cell line used.[2]

If purchasing from a company other than our source, be sure to purchase a non-nano zinc oxide that has particle sizes as large as possible. (Anything with a particle size smaller than 100nm is considered a nanoparticle – the zinc oxide we found is 330nm.)

Choose your Homemade Sunscreen SPF

Different amounts of zinc oxide are needed depending on what SPF you would like your DIY sunscreen to be. Once you have chosen the SPF a little math is involved. The zinc oxide must be a certain percentage of the weight of your ingredients (before adding the zinc oxide). For this reason, it’s easiest to use a kitchen scale when making your sunscreen. For example, if you have 2 ounces of lotion and you’d like to make SPF 10 sunscreen, according to the values below you will need to add .2 ounces of zinc oxide to the lotion. Use the zinc oxide recommendations below.

  • 2-5 SPF: Use 5% zinc oxide
  • 6-11 SPF: Use 10% zinc oxide
  • 12-19 SPF: Use 15% zinc oxide
  • >20 SPF: Use 20% zinc oxide
Homemade Sunscreen 1

Homemade Sunscreen: A Natural Recipe



Add coconut oil, shea butter, and jojoba/sesame/sunflower oil to a makeshift double boiler. (To make your own double boiler, place a Pyrex measuring cup containing ingredients inside a small pot filled with a few inches of water). Heat until melted. Remove from the double boiler and allow it to cool a little. Put on a mask that covers your nose and mouth (to avoid breathing in the fine particles of zinc oxide powder), and measure out your zinc oxide. Add zinc oxide, Vitamin E oil, and optional essential oils to the other ingredients. Stir well to combine. Store in a dark jar in the refrigerator.

To Use:

Apply liberally to exposed skin. Reapply every few hours, or more often if swimming or sweating.

Notes for Homemade Sunscreen Success

The shelf life of this natural homemade sunscreen is about 6 months. Refrigerate when not in use.

The oils it contains are photosensitive, so do not leave your homemade sunscreen sitting out in direct sunlight. Keeping it in a cooler will prevent it from melting in high temperatures when taking it to the pool or beach.

If you prefer to add zinc oxide to another homemade lotion you like, simply weigh a desired amount of lotion and add enough zinc oxide to achieve the preferred SPF, mixing thoroughly.

Recipe Video



  1. Beasley DG, Meyer TA. Characterization of the UVA protection provided by avobenzone, zinc oxide, and titanium dioxide in broad-spectrum sunscreen products. 2010 Dec 1;11(6):413-21.
  2. Zhang Y, Nguyen KC, Lefebvre DE, et al. Critical experimental parameters related to the cytotoxicity of zinc oxide nanoparticlesJ Nanopart Res. 2014;16(6):2440.

photo credit to Paul of Castaways.com.au and koadmunkee

About Betsy Jabs

Betsy holds a bachelor's degree in Psychology and a Master's degree in Counseling, and for nearly a decade worked as an elementary counselor. In 2011 she left her counseling career to pursue healthy living. She loves using DIY Natural as a way to educate people to depend on themselves to nourish their bodies and live happier healthier lives. Connect with Betsy on Facebookand Twitter.

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DISCLAIMER: Information on DIY Natural™ is not reviewed or endorsed by the FDA and is NOT intended to be substituted for the advice of your health care professional. If you rely solely upon this advice you do so at your own risk. Read full Disclaimer & Disclosure statements here.


  1. [email protected] says

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  2. phi says

    i’m living in tropical area and the the average temporatures is about 33-35 celcius degree everyday, is it recipe can give me a strong enough sunscreen when playing outside? I’m pale and i never want to go tan. Has anyone complainted about allergies or skin diseases yet? Thank you.

  3. Nancy says

    Thanks for the recipe! I made the sunscreen and put in small containers in fridge and it has separated. Is it ok to warm it up before use? Why does it have to be refrigerated? The items alone are not stored in the fridge. Just curious! Thanks!

    • Betsy Jabs says

      Hi Nancy,

      If your sunscreen separated before using it, you’ll want to warm it a bit, then put it in an ice bath while stirring it well. Stir until it looks fairly set, then refrigerate. The reason for keeping it refrigerated is that you don’t want the separation or the zinc oxide (the active ingredient) will settle to the bottom, then you’ll basically just be applying lotion without sun protection. Hope that helps!

  4. anar says

    HI , I’m not using sunscreen natural
    until Today. because I heard that is a danger for oils and burn skin
    Plz help me is it safe or not ?
    and which one is better and safe zinc oxide or nano zinc oxide ?

    • Betsy Jabs says

      Hi Anar,

      Typically it is not safe to apply oils before going out in the sun. However, the oils in this recipe provide (low amounts of) natural sun protection, so it’s a little different. NON-NANO zinc oxide is the only one you should be using on your skin.

      Hope this helps!

  5. ny says


    I can now breathe a sigh of relief…. Finally great advice and the best homemade, natural recipes. Thank you, indeed is not sufficient.
    Moving to the African continent, I’ve surfed the net desperately searching for a natural sunBLOCK that is also safe for the sea animals. Many places now disallow any other, including scuba diving. Hooray, I say!
    So, my question is, are these ingredients safe for sealife too?
    BTW… An update (from the UK), 1 dentist says, No… Don’t use bicarb on the teeth due to the abrasive nature (can you give info on the comparison between commercial toothpaste/your recent recipe/enamel and the abrasive scale?), but 2 said that between the 2 visits our family dental hygiene had greatly improved. Check us out?!
    Asking what we were doing, we explained:- alternate manual/electric brush, with a conscious brushing with bicarb, activated charcoal and spearmint e/o tooth cleanser. Get this….. They actually praised and asked for the receipe. Hmmmm!
    My daughter though, screams the bathroom down, and refuses to use any combination due to the “salty taste”, which is impossible to conceal. Any ideas?
    I’m also very keen on the spf primer receipe please.

      • BRIDGET HALL says

        Hi Betsy, I remember reading ages ago (so no references, sorry) that zinc oxide or zinc titanium or maybe just zinc in general was not good for reefs as it is a natural antibacterial and coral reefs contain thriving microbial colonies. I seem to remember that it causes bleaching of coral as it kills off the tiny microbes that coral is comprised of. Not 100% on my source or my memory but thought I would just mention that. Without all the other chemicals, I’m sure it does much less harm to our oceans. I’m loving your website btw. Can’t wait to try some of your recipes!

  6. Ana Marie says

    I made this product and I love the smell of it. I spend a lot of time on the lake and at the end of the day my cheeks gets really red. I do apply it often. Any advice for

    • Betsy Jabs says

      Increase your SPF by adding more zinc oxide. 🙂 If it’s too white on your skin once applied, you can melt it down and add cocoa powder to make it a tinted sunscreen.

  7. BM says

    Do you have a version for oily/ acne prone skin? I am ok with coconut oil, but worry that the shea butter may cause my skin to break out.

    • Betsy Jabs says

      My best recommendation would be to use a lotion you already know works well with your skin and mix in the amount of zinc oxide you would need to create the SPF you want. Blend very well so the zinc oxide is mixed throughout.