Reduce Waste with Homemade Sunscreen

One way to be more environmentally responsible is to reduce waste by reducing the use of products that come in packages. Many companies are attempting to reduce their packaging and/or use packages made from recycled products. This is great! However, as consumers, we can do even more. By making our own consumables and reusing the containers we make them in, we are not only reducing the waste we create, we are sending a message to businesses that says we don’t want all the chemicals they add to items and we won’t spend our money to support them. By making our own consumables at home, such as sunscreens and lotions, we not only do the planet a favor, but our bodies as well. So say goodbye to store bought and say hello to home made and healthy!

I love mixing up my own lotions etc. I get a real sense of satisfaction from doing so. Plus I know exactly what I’m putting on my skin. At the end of last school year I was trying to come up with a good year end teacher gift. I always try to do something related to summer fun, so in the past I’ve given beach towels and sunglasses, or sunhats and flip flops, that sort of thing. This year I decided to make them all sunscreen and bug spray. I have to say, I sort of winged it, and was very pleased with the results. I made some for our household as well, and the sunscreen worked great! I got very nicely tanned, with no burning at all.

Something to keep in mind when making any lotions from scratch is that you need a lot of patience! These are not products you can whip up in 20 minutes, although I’ve made the mistake of thinking that on several occasions! (Live and Learn!) Because you are usually melting oils and combining them it takes a fair amount of cooling time to get them to the consistency wanted. I am notorious for underestimating this time frame. So when making a lotion plan to do it on a day when you’ll be home, but have other things you can be doing while the oils cool. They’ll need to be checked on periodically so, now that I’ve learned my lesson, I like to have a list of short chores I can do. I get things melted together, then set them to cool, go fold some laundry, go back & check the oils, weed the garden for a while, check the oil, walk the dog, check the oil…you get the idea.

Supplies Needed

The recipe for my sunscreen is as follows:

1 tsp Vitamin E oil– great for the skin in general, helps heal stretch marks and dry skin

1 tsp Carrot Seed oil– this has vitamin A in it which has been proven to be good for skin repair and rejuvenation. The actual SPF of carrot seed oil is under debate, the previously touted 38-40 SPF has been disproven, so now it is commonly believed to have only 1-2 SPF. Vitamin A is good for your skin and put in nearly every commercial eye cream so I added it.

2 TBS Almond oil– Almond oil is another great source of vitamin A

2 TBS Zinc Oxide Powder- this provides the bulk of the sun protection. It’s a light powder so I recommend wearing a mask or a bandana over your mouth and nose while adding it in so as not to breathe it in.

¼ cup Coconut oil– Coconut oil is a terrific moisturizer and has natural antifungal and antibacterial properties. When used on one’s face it can help to clear up acne, but some individuals find it clogs their pores so I personally never used it on my face.  I prefer a hat to protect my face.

¼ cup Shea Butter-shea butter is an anti-inflammatory as well as an incredible moisturizer

2 TBS Beeswax– helps the lotion to set up nicely and helps hold the moisture in your skin

Essential oil of your choosing-This is really for the smell only, not for additional SPF so use what you like. I added Coconut Essential Oil so I could achieve that summer beach aroma. I kept adding drops until I got the strength of smell I wanted. You do not want to use a citrus oil as they can increase skin’s sensitivity to the sun.

Glass jar for storage.


The process of making the sunscreen is really pretty simple. All you need to do is to melt the Coconut oil, Shea Butter and Beeswax together. If you have a double boiler, that works the best, but I don’t own one so I just put my pyrex measuring cup in a pot of shallow water and it works just fine. Once the oils are melted, that’s when patience is needed! The Almond, Vitamin E, Carrot Seed and Essential oils can be added at this time.

The best utensil for combining the oils and whipping them into the fluffy lotion you’ll want to apply is a hand emulsifier like this one.

After each little chore I do, or about every ½ hour I emulsify the mixture for a couple of minutes. After about an hour of cooling it’s time to add the Zinc Oxide. This needs to be gently folded into the mixture, try not to floof it around too much, because you don’t want to breathe it in much if possible.

So now you just have to keep going back every half an hour or so and emulsifying the mixture until it’s at the consistency you want. Then spoon into a glass jar. I prefer an amber pump bottle like this one. For best results you’ll want to refrigerate it between uses, as the natural ingredients in it can mold over time.

I made a huge batch of this and divided it into 7 bottles for the teachers and ourselves. It smelled wonderful and one bottle lasted my family of 5 all summer. We are outside a lot, at the pool, beach and river and didn’t get one sunburn. The sunscreen is somewhat greasy at first so you probably don’t want to apply it before everyone piles into the car and rubs all over the seats, but once you’re at your destination it’s great.

Instead of using 4 or 5 spray cans or plastic bottles of sunscreen this summer, I was able to utilize one reusable glass jar. The materials used all come in their own containers, but I’m going to be using the ingredients for a number of different lotions so I’m still cutting down on the amount of waste I’m creating.

Give this great sunscreen a try and let me know your thoughts!


8 thoughts on “Reduce Waste with Homemade Sunscreen

    1. Good point Dieter, as it is all natural you wouldn’t be able to keep it in the cupboard for years so making it in small batches and refrigerating between uses is recommended. Because I use mine daily in the summer I didn’t refrigerate is every day, but once the time frame between uses extended, I began keeping it in the fridge.

  1. Comming to your website I smiled when I saw the pic of the wall of plastic bottles. Making art – or usable things – of waste is really a good idea.
    As for the homemade lotions: it is great if you have all ingredients as natural as possible and the patience to do it on your own. My admiration!

  2. Hi Janet,

    My wife is always nagging me about recycling. She’ll wash plastic containers or plastic wrappers so that they can go into a recycling bin. I’m a throw-away guy. Everything goes into the rubbish bin.

    But now I’m more conscious of taking care of the environment. You see, our family went on an island holiday and swam with the turtles. Wonderful experience! We were told that some turtles died from eating discarded plastic. They thought the plastic was jelly fish. So now I too wash pieces of plastic and put them into the recycling bin.

    You’re an environmental warrior! We’ve yet to reach your level of reusing containers. But I’m happy to say my daughter is into essential oils, so she mixes her oils for the family to use. Guess, we’re also using less plastic constainers.


    1. Hi Song, I’m so glad you are moving to be more environmentally conscious! I like to remind people that there is no “away”. It all goes somewhere! You are so lucky to have swam with the turtles!

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