Sunday, September 23, 2012

How to Make Non-toxic Sunscreen

In recent years people have started writing about the toxicity of commercial sunscreens, and it also seemed like one way to reduce plastic consumption, so I decided to try to make our own as it starts getting hot here in Cape Town. 

In contrast to our pediatrician in Boston, our pediatrician here in Cape Town didn't recommend sunscreen for babies.  From what I've read, I finally feel persuaded to find a hat I actually like wearing for the summer, and to do the same for the kids. Barrier protection against the sun- when you're in the sun for more than the usual out-and-about- seems to be the best line of defense. The sun is also a good thing so a little exposure is ok. This sunscreen will allow us to hang out on the beach a little longer. We'll be using this sunscreen when we're at the beach and pool, and if we go for long hikes. Zinc oxide is not totally innocuous, but it basically provides barrier- rather than chemical- protection against the sun at a micro level. I was careful not to buy nano zinc, which is apparently sometimes absorbed into the skin. 

This sunscreen takes about 10 minutes to make, has just three ingredients, and rubs on easily. 

The three ingredients are as follows:

2.5 tbsp of zinc oxide (this apparently makes about 20 spf- you can find more accurate measurements online)
Beeswax- about half a cup, melted.
Apricot kernel oil or some other oil- 1/2 cup-3/4 cup*

*South Africans, apricot oil is available at the pick n pay in Tokai and I'm sure many other places. I have a lot of beeswax and zinc oxide thanks to a visitor from the U.S., but if you know where to get these ingredients in SA, I know people would love to know in the comments.

I melted the beeswax in a makeshift double-boiler. It's quick and easy, but I'd suggest just using the jar you're going to store the sunscreen in, or using an old tin can if you have it as the pot was quite difficult to clean. While the water is still cool, place the oil and wax in the jar until it melts.  Then remove the jar before it gets too hot, then mix in the zinc oxide. Be careful to get the zinc oxide straight from the bag into the mixture- don't inhale!

Done! It rubs in nicely and smells pleasantly like honey.


Tiff said...

Ooh. Actually, that sounds like lovely sunscreen. Would you happen to know if it's non pore clogging as well?

Concrete Gardener said...

Hi Tiff,

I actually wasn't sure about this so I looked up whether apricot oil or beeswax clog pores- I don't think they do.

I've used apricot oil on Noah and Eli's skin since they were born, and I never had any issues that I hear about babies having with their skin. So I use a lot of the stuff as a massage oil. It's lighter than, say, olive oil.

I haven't used beeswax before but from what I read it's very non-cloggy.

I was surprised by how easily the sunscreen just rubs in, despite the fact that it feels a bit solid. My skin didn't have that weird coated feeling that it sometimes does after I apply sunscreen.

Tiff said...

Thanks for the info! I will give it a shot!