DIY Sunscreen with Zinc Oxide for Health, Wealth, and Beauty by Deborah Tosline

Deborah Tosline wrote and published “Skin Remodeling DIY: An Introduction to the Underground World of Do-It-Yourself Skincare” in 2015. Her approach to skin care is based on a scientific background, love of research and over 30 years of DIY skincare experience. 

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Celestia sun, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Celestia_sun.jpg

Celestia sun, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Celestia_sun.jpg

I’ve made tinctures, serums, and cold creams but have never made sunscreen until I recently discovered how easy it is. When you make your own DIY sunscreen you save money while using the highest quality, biodegradable ingredients. Commercial sunscreens contain synthetic chemicals and were identified in 2019 by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as having insufficient information available to deem safe. Further, the FDA raised concerns about oxybenzone and its potential to affect hormone levels and the increased absorption susceptibility in children.

The FDA proposed that two sunscreen products have enough safety information available to determine that they’re safe and effective: zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.

Zinc oxide is a physical/mineral sunscreen that deposits minerals on top of the skin to reflect light and prevent the sun’s rays from penetrating the skin.

Luckily you may easily make an effective DIY sunscreen using zinc oxide powder. Information on the internet recommends the use of organic, non-nano, non-encapsulated zinc powder as the safest option. However, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) reports that there is not enough information to understand the health effects of nano- and coated zinc powder at this time. What is known is that breathing zinc oxide powder is unhealthy, may cause lung damage and must be avoided. You may buy a breathing filter (I use a tightly woven scarf) and use caution when handling zinc oxide powder. I support organics for myself and the Earth so I purchased an organic brand which happened to be non-nano and non-encapsulated. It is important that the brand provides a high-quality zinc oxide powder. 

Zinc Oxide Powder by Adam Rędzikowski [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]

Zinc Oxide Powder by Adam Rędzikowski [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]

Once you’ve purchased zinc oxide powder you may use it in a variety of ways. In addition to its sun protective qualities, zinc oxide cream is an excellent resource to stock in the medicine cabinet for soothing sunburns, skin inflammation, rashes and to treat other general health concerns. 

You may add your good quality zinc oxide powder to a home-made or commercial lotion or cream or lip balm.

The FDA approves the use of zinc oxide powder at a maximum concentration of 25 percent (%) of the total volume of whatever carrier used (lotion, cream or foundation). 

To make a one-ounce (oz) container of sun protective lip balm using 20% zinc oxide, you would add 5.9 milliliters (mL) of zinc oxide powder to 23.7 mL lip balm. To make 4 oz (118 mL) container of sun block you would add 23.8 mL of zinc oxide powder to 94.3 mL of lotion.

I purchased a 16 oz bag of zinc oxide powder which is equal to 476 mL. If this is used at a 20% concentration it will make ten 8 oz containers of sunscreen. An organic, high quality general sunscreen may cost $15 for an 8 oz bottle. A specialized sun block face cream may cost $35 for a 4 oz product. Think of the money that you can save!

Here is the math for calculating how to blend your DIY zinc oxide sunscreen.

One-ounce = 29.6 milliliters (mL). 

One-ounce product with 20% zinc oxide powder

29.6 ml x 0.20 (20%) = 5.9 ml zinc oxide powder

29.6 ml – 5.9 ml = 23.7 ml carrier

Four-ounce product with 20% zinc oxide powder

4 oz x 29.6 ml = 118.4 ml

118.4 ml x 0.20 (20%) = 23.7 ml zinc oxide powder

118.4 ml – 23.7 ml = 94.7 ml carrier

For my first DIY sunscreen, I followed this recipe. The author estimates the Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of this recipe to be at least an SPF 20.

Two photographs of a man wearing sunscreen (spf 50) on one half of his face, in visible light  (left)  and ultraviolet light (UV-A, 340-355nm)  (right) . The sunscreen on the right side (your left) of his face absorbs ultraviolet, making that side appear darker in the UV picture. By Spigget [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]

Two photographs of a man wearing sunscreen (spf 50) on one half of his face, in visible light (left) and ultraviolet light (UV-A, 340-355nm) (right). The sunscreen on the right side (your left) of his face absorbs ultraviolet, making that side appear darker in the UV picture. By Spigget [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]

I made a batch of zinc oxide sunscreen for my daughter and I to use while we vacationed at the beach this summer. I applied the sunscreen to myself every day to augment the sun protective clothing that I use (including a full-length bathing suit for water sports).

I applied the DIY sunscreen to my daughters back and she was in the sun for an entire day and did not get burned.

The recipe that I used is oil based and while it is quite nourishing for the skin it is a little oily. This does not bother me because I am used to applying oils for skin care and I found that the oils soaked into the skin with time. When I make my next batch of zinc oxide sunscreen I will either make or purchase a water-based cream.

A white hue from the zinc oxide may rub off on clothing, be sure to pat dry any excess sunscreen to prevent getting it on clothing.

A 69-year-old man (William Edward McElligott, US citizen) presented with a 25-year history of gradual, asymptomatic thickening and wrinkling of the skin on the left side of his face… photodamaged skin, the patient had driven a delivery truck for 28 years. Ultraviolet A (UVA) rays transmit through window glass, penetrating the epidermis and upper layers of dermis. By Alex lacerda [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]

A 69-year-old man (William Edward McElligott, US citizen) presented with a 25-year history of gradual, asymptomatic thickening and wrinkling of the skin on the left side of his face… photodamaged skin, the patient had driven a delivery truck for 28 years. Ultraviolet A (UVA) rays transmit through window glass, penetrating the epidermis and upper layers of dermis. By Alex lacerda [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]

Aside from using sun protective clothing, which I highly recommend, this is one of the safest ways to apply sunscreen. Commercial sunscreens contain synthetic chemicals that may compromise our health and degrade ocean ecosystems. High-quality sunscreen is pricey when slathering it on. Make DIY sunscreen and use the highest quality ingredients, save money, and be environmental. Reuse product containers to store your DIY sunscreen and reduce landfill waste and recycling costs.

If you need more information, go to the library, search the Internet, read my past Blog articles, or get my book “Skin Remodeling DIY: An Introduction to the Underground World of Do-It-Yourself Skincare” 

Take good care of yourself. xo

Deborah

This article is intended to be used as general information only and is in no way intended to replace medical advice, be used as a medical treatment program, diagnosis, or cure of any disease or medical condition. There are no warranties, expressed or implied, regarding the effectiveness of the practices described in this article. Products or substances discussed herein are for educational purposes only and are not intended as recommendations of the author.