Question: How can I make my own sunscreen?

Ever wonder how to make your own sunscreen? Want to keep your skin healthy and happy? Want to try to prevent skin cancer caused by the sun? One of the biggest questions we here at Scrub Me Down- Happy Skin this time of year is, “do you make sunscreen”? And most people really don’t like our answer.

Read on and I’ll share with you how!

Question: How to make your own sunscreen?

Answer: DON’T.

Question: Is it possible to make your own sunscreen?

Answer: Unless you have access to lots of really fancy lab equipment, then no.

Questions/Winging: But other DIY makers sell homemade sunscreen!

Snarky Answer: Comment deleted; not suitable for a public space.

So. Go to the store, look for the sunscreen section of the shop. Pick out something that is at least an SPF 30 or more.

A google image search result

Please, do not take the chance. Coconut oil, raspberry seed oil, shea butter… none of these are suitable replacements for sunscreen. I have tried all the natural sunscreens out there and they don’t work. How do I know they don’t work? Read on!

If you look at any of the babe’s and mama’s blogs out there they generally tell you that coconut oil has an SPF of 1-8 (how do I know they say this? Well, you’ll see how easy it is to fall into the siren’s song if misinformation very soon, and I fell hard). They will also say things along the lines of, Africans have been using shea butter for countless years as a natural and healthy sun screen. Shea butter has an SPF of about 5-9.

Yet, say Badger Sunscreen says on the page, SPF 30. Ok. So you are scratching your head thinking, “Sure Barb. ok. So what?”

Screen Shot 2017-07-09 at 5.54.55 AM.png
From TheIndianSpot on Pinterest 

Let’s go to the kitchen and let’s make some of my kind of famous Chocolate Fudgey Brownies. You need eggs, sugar, butter, cocoa powder, a wee bit of vanilla and a pinch of salt. And that is it. Let’s see… well, cocoa powder is processed so let’s not use it. Oh and the butter is not good for you so let’s not use that. And eggs can cause heart disease, so no no to the eggs, so let’s use the applesauce instead. Now the vanilla has caramel in it so can’t use that. And sugar is addictive and don’t need to be addicted to anything more. And salt, well salt causes high blood pressure. So here! Have a wonderful Chocoalte Fudgey Brownie! (slides over a bowl of apple sauce). Oh! Whoops! The applesauce wasn’t made from organic apples. Never mind! Fancy a clean bowl?

Yup. Nothing like a Chocolate Fudgy Brownie.

Not the same thing you say? But it is. Cherry picking which ingredients you think are “safe” and “good” and “toxic free” is just like what I did above. Looking at the list of ingredients on sun screen, each one of them are there for a reason. To protect you. To help you to prevent skin cancer.

Now, coconut oil has a SPF of 1-8 and the Badger Sunscreen has a SPF of 30. Let’s use another example to try to explain…

The coconut oil would be similar to saying that all apples taste the same. I’m trying to save money to take a trip, and I get criticised at for spending 30rmb (China money) on four apples when I could buy the apples in the next bin 5rmb for 10 apples. Sounds like quite the deal. But let me tell you what would happen. Those 5rmb apples would quickly visit my rubbish bin before I ever even considered eating them. And I wouldn’t blink twice at it. Those 30rmb apples are delicious. They haven’t been forced grown so don’t taste like or have the texture of cardboard, they have a slightly sour taste- huzzah! Damn you China and your refusal to grasp the concept of sour fruit can be delicious! They’ve bred out almost all the sourness from fruits. So sad. Soon tart grapes and I will meet again!


Coconut oil taste, colour and SPF value change with each coconut you use to make the oil. Each coconut from the same tree is different. How can you know that when you lather yourself up with coconut oil you are getting an SPF value of 8 every single time? Has the coconut manufacturing company turned to a lab and said, “hey, test each batch of coconut oil so we can put it on the label”.

And speaking of labels, do you ever see a jar of coconut oil claiming to have an SPF factor? Nope. And you probably aren’t going to either. The regulating bodies (Health Canada/FDA) list sunscreen as a drug and regulate it as such. EU Cosmetic Regulatory Services classify sunscreen as a cosmetic and regulate it as such (must be tested for wavelength, tested for standardised categories of effectiveness of low to very high protection, and if marketed as water resistant, must be tested and approved by that regulating body too. Then have the sunscreen assessed and tested. The sunscreen is then registered with the EU Cosmetics Portal).

It’s not a sunscreen unless it has all of this on the label.

So if you go to a fair or a market and want to buy some homemade sunscreen, be smart. The following are mandatory, so be skin smart. Ask!

USA: domestic/foreign manufacturers/packagers/labelers must register their cosmetic/skincare business with the FDA and submit an annal list of their drug products. Sunscreen is considered a drug in the USA, “Sunscreen Drug Products for Over-The-Counter Human Use monograph (21 CFR 352)”. This includes handmade/DIY sunscreens.

Canada: at the moment, Canada is proposing some pretty awesome changes to the sunscreen monograph by becoming more standardised. At the moment, sunscreens containing titanium dioxide, and/or zinc, and/or PABA are NHP’s and require a Natural Product Number or a NPN, and if the sunscreen contains any of these ingredients, they are considered drug products and therefore; require a Drug Identification Number (DIN).

It’s a good idea to make sure your sunscreens bought in Canada have this logo on them to ensure you are getting a product that has been fully tested and approved.

EU: The EU is probably the easiest one to make sure you are getting a good product. Just ask if they have had their sunscreen assessed, if they have a PIF and if they have registered with the CPNP. They are not obligated to show you these documents however; requesting some sort of proof that their sunscreen has passed it’s tests is never a bad thing.

I suffer horribly from various sunscreens. I always have. I remember summers at various camping programs as a kid being told I must wear my sunscreen and refusing point blank as my skin always got these weird blisters wherever the sunscreen touched. It is hardly surprising to see why in my DIY adventure sunscreen was on that list for a long time. And I can tell you, with certainty, homemade sunscreen is crap.

The oils don’t do their jobs very well, and I’ve mixed many different combinations up. All I did was get a tan using coconut oil and burnt while using other oils straight up (I’m looking at you raspberry seed oil!). I’ve tried adding zinc to my concoctions but unsurprisingly, zinc is pretty crappy to work with. It doesn’t incorporate easily and is attracted to itself so clumping is an issue. And if clumping occurs in your concoction, that means you don’t get good coverage when you apply it. And speaking of coverage, your foundation makeup you are applying, is just not enough coverage. You just don’t apply enough, regularly throughout the day to provide ample protection.

And now? I have no choice but to practice safe sun exposure levels. Hats don’t fit, so an umbrella is always in my purse. I wear clothes that cover. And try not to be outside for too long without being in the shade. I would love to to be able to wear sunscreen! I have heard stories from some friends who claim that European sunscreens are much better than North American sunscreen and I cannot wait to try some while next in Europe to test this theory out!

Now, I mentioned Badger Sunscreen being SPF 30 a few times in this post. This is the sunscreen most people I know recommend, which is why I am suggesting it. To get an SPF of 30, Badger had to put its sunscreen through many laboratory tests, pass various certifications, follow some pretty neat regulations and is confident that every tube of sunscreen will provide consistent results right up to the expiry date. Many on the shelf sunscreens are recipes formulated with reef safe ingredients, environmentally safe ingredients too. And after researching for this blog post, I am also very keen to try out Badger Sunscreen to see if I react.

Scrub Me Down- Happy Skin is all about DIY. We also encourage  people to explore the joys of DIY- in a safe way. There is a reason why we don’t encourage anyone to make their own sunscreen, because it is not safe. The DIY bloggers we follow, won’t make them either.

Please read these following links as they provide such amazing explanations as to why homemade sunscreen is not a good idea.

Why Homemade Sunscreen is Never a Good Idea

Why you can’t count on DIY sunscreens

Why you should not use coconut oil as a sunscreen

Myth or fact: Coconut is an effective sunscreen (The Mayo Clinic weighs in)

New research suggests sunscreens do not significantly inhibit vitamin D synthesis

An overview of sunscreen standards in the world

Why DIY sunscreen doesn’t work by LabMuffin YouTube video HIGHLY informative

Bottom line, Scrub Me Down- Happy Skin will never make sunscreen unless we get all the fancy lab equipment and the proper testing done.

Practice skin safety!

Ask questions if you buy from a DIY maker





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