Dear nature lovers,
The biggest research I’ve done this month was all about the SPF (Sun Protection Factor) and the UV (Ultra Violet) in the natural oils. As many of you know, there’s a lot information on various websites/bloggs/articles claiming that many natural oils have natural SPF and UV protection properties. However, many information is not researched to the core; which is why I did the research based on a couple of surveys regarding this theme and I only used the oils that were confirmed in these researches. I mainly relied on the Red raspberry seed oil due to its ability for acting as a broad spectrum against the UV, altogether with a good SPF. You can read more about it and everything on the natural sunscreen that you need to know here. These are my recipes for the DIY natural sunscreen 🙂
What do I need?
I’ll list which product I’ve used for my natural sunscreen. Not all of them are applied to my three sunscreens; for specific recipes, see the list of ingredients further below.
You’ll need the oils that you choose. For me the most important choice was definitely the Red Raspberry Seed oil (Rubus Ideaus) for the reasons that are very thoroughly explained in my Post on SPF and UV in natural oils. Just to sum it up: This oil was found to protect against the UVB and UVC and has the potential to absorb the UVA radiation. As if this wasn’t enough, its protection is comparable to the Titanium Dioxide of 28 – 50. No other oil that I’ve read about didn’t come even closer, not to mention the research. So, where to buy this oil? I soon discovered that even my usual supplier of the herbal and other important things, G. Baldwin & Co. didn’t have it. If they don’t have it, who does? That’s when I turned to the Amazon. I bought the 60ml one, Cold pressed, 100% pure botanical and unrefined for £18. Here’s the link to it: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B009M8UJWA?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_detailpage_o05_s00
How and why did I choose this one? It had a couple of reviews (the 30ml one) and I think it may have been the only one that was unrefined, cold pressed and therefore not exposed to high temperatures. It looks yellowish and has a very interesting scent: very natural, raw and something I can’t really describe, quite subtle earthy scent. You can definitely tell that it has a very specific scent and that’s a sign of an unprocessed oil. Which is what we’re searching for 🙂 Oh and one more thing: if you want to play it even more safe, do order more because you get a small bottle of 60ml.
The next oil that I included in the recipe was Coconut oil (Cocos nucifera). There are so many to choose from, how do you know which one is good? I would suggest going into a health food store and buying 100% raw, (extra) virgin, organic and cold pressed one. I’m using up the Weatherstone Therapies one, organic and cold pressed which you can purchase for £11.49 for 500ml. As you can see from my pictures, I have three different brand of Coconut oil at the moment: the above mentioned one, the Lucy Bee and the Vita Coco. I just love to have it and always store this oil at home since I use it every day for herbal remedies, hair conditioning, shower gels, all-in-one body scrubs and home-made balms. So when I discovered (and confirmed by the research!) that it has an SPF of 7 it wasn’t even a question if I’d be putting it in my sunscreen. I believe that by now we know that the Coconut oil is of white colour and wonderful coconut-y smell. It smells amazingly of coconut and the scent is so nice that you just want to eat it. And that’s exactly what you can do with it 🙂
Olive oil (Olea europaea) is usually found in almost everyone’s kitchen. If you’re loving it in your salads, you may consider its properties on the sun. The survey only researched the UVB protection, but have discovered that it has an SPF of 7.5. I remember as a child that someone was always putting the Olive oil on the sun and we were all laughing. Suffice it to say that I’m not laughing any more 🙂 Anyhow, Olive oil has a nice greenish colour, strong scent of pure olives and makes a great contribution to the natural sunscreen. So, which brand should you use? I used Clearspring, since I’ve used them many times before and was always happy with their raw products which are organic, cold pressed and unrefined. Everything that you need. 🙂
Essential oils can be not only a wonderful contribution due to their scent but can be of great value in the natural sunscreen due to the SPF and UV protection. That being said, there are some oils that need to be avoided in the natural sunscreens as they are photo toxic and photosensitive. Always try them in advance before exposing yourself to the sun and risking unpleasant and unnecessary skin conditions.
Shea butter (Butyrospermum parkii) can be a nice contribution to thicken your sunscreen and to additionally moisturise and keep the moisture in your skin. I used the brand of Weatherstone therapies which cost £8.99 for 145g in Beans&Barley. It works nicely and really helped me with some dry patches on my skin.
If you wish for your product to have some waterproof abilities, add the Beeswax (Cera alba). It will help to keep your sunscreen on your skin even if you dive into the sea. However, this doesn’t mean you don’t have to re-apply every couple of hours! This time I bought a block at Earth Natural foods (cca 30g) for £0.99 which is much cheaper than the one I bought at Baldwins; £6.19 for 100g but the beeswax was in pellets in the latter one. In addition, my new beeswax actually smells of honey and it really seems to be an amazing product. I called the store to check where they get it from and there is someone in Kentish town that is actually making the blocks and gets the product from Zimbabwe if I understood correctly. It doesn’t just seem to be a better option; you can smell and feel the difference (it is however, more difficult to work with it since the block is quite hard to cut). Not to mention that since the one from Baldwin doesn’t have any smell which can mean that it was processed and/or refined. Not impressed at Baldwins on this product.
These are the base oils that I used in my natural sunscreens. Any addition will be specifically explained further below. Just a couple of remainders about the oils and their SPF:
- Don’t believe everything you read
- Check the research on the oils. Despite the research I have done, this is not 100% that it will protect you against some harmful effects of the UV. Be thorough with your research.
- Make sure to buy the best possible oils that haven’t been processed. Mine are cold-pressed, unrefined, pure, virgin and organic (except for the Read Raspberry oil since I couldn’t find it).
If you are making oily protection, you probably won’t even need to melt the oils, you stir them up really good and you’re done! Yes, it’s that simple. If you’ll be putting some beeswax and/or Shea butter, you’ll just need the bain-mairie and gently and on low temperature melt the wax and add the oils at the end so they don’t loose their properties.
!Don’t make the same mistake I have done: I wanted to avoid the heating of the raspberry oil and when I mixed the two (mixture included beeswax) the mixture appeared to react on different temperatures and there were a lot of clogs in it. Then I had to re-heat it again. Therefore, all oil need to be warmed up a little bit, but not too much.
For the oils: 5 minutes or less
For the creams/ointments: depending on the amount, I would say between 10 and 20 minutes.
Recipes for the DIY natural sunscreens
Here are some simple recipes for the natural sunscreens that I’ll be using this summer. I’ve divided them in three: the one with high, medium and low SPF.
1. Strong SPF balm for the face, chest and shoulders
SPF 28 – 50 20ml Red Raspberry Seed oil (Rubus Ideaus)
SPF 7 15ml Coconut oil (Cocos nucifera)
SPF 7.5 15ml Olive oil (Olea europaea)
1.5 teaspoon 100% Organic and unrefined Shea butter (Butyrospermum parkii)
1 tsp Beeswax (Cera alba)
SPF 5.6 28 drops Lavender essential oils (Lavandula officinalis)
This recipe is for making the balm. As mentioned above, put in the bain-mairie the beeswax and shea butter and when you notice that they are almost melted, add the Coconut, Olive and Red Raspberry oil.When it is completely melted, turn the heat off, pour the mixture into a sterilised glass jar and when it is cooler (but not yet completely hard) add the essential oil. After that, stir up the mixture and either leave it in the glass jar or pour it into a plastic bottle. I don’t really like my balms and creams in the plastic jars/bottles but since I’m travelling to my holiday with a plane I want to avoid the unnecessary weight.
This sunscreen has, according to my calculations, the SPF between 14 and 22*. Altogether it makes around 50 – 55ml and I will use it for the most sensitive parts where I mainly get burnt; that’s skin on the face, shoulders and chest. The cream/balm itself is quite yellow and very spreadable, have quite strong scent of Lavender and if you have a good nose you can also detect the Red Raspberry oil. As for the texture, I also took into account the hot temperatures. To store it, I just reused the bottle of the Red Raspberry Seed oil.
2. Medium SPF for back, arms and upper side of the feet
SPF 28 – 50 25ml Red Raspberry Seed oil (Rubus Ideaus)
SPF 7.5 60ml Olive oil (Olea Europaea)
SPF 7 50ml Coconut oil (Cocous nucifera)
SPF 6.7 1.5ml Peppermint essential oil (Mentha piperita)
Since this one is oil based it doesn’t need any heating at all which is wonderful to obtain all the amazing properties of the oils. All you need to do is pour the oils in your bottle, stir it up and close it tightly. I suggest you pour the oils in the bottle since due to the liquid it can be very awkward to apply it if stored in the jar.
The SPF of this sunscreen is between 12 and 16*. The mixtures makes approximately 140ml. You can always make more, but if you add more oils with lower SPF, your end product can result in slightly lower SPF. In this product, I added more of the Olive oil since its SPF is slightly higher. As you can see from the picture, I’ll be actually using the spray. I will attach it later on since it is more practical just with the regular cap for now, in terms of travelling. The oil has very light yellow colour and a refreshing scent of peppermint with a subtle smell of Olive oil. As for the bottle and spray top, I bought it at G. Baldwin & Co. (£1.65 – £2.65 per bottle, depending on its size and £1.09 for the trigger spray top).
3. Low SPF for the legs and arms
SPF 28 – 50 15ml Red Raspberry Seed oil (Rubus Ideaus)
SPF 7 100ml Coconut oil (Cocos nucifera)
SPF 7.5 100ml Olive oil (Olea europaea)
28g 100% Organic and unrefined Shea butter (Butyrospermum parkii)
18g Beeswax (Cera alba)
SPF 5.6 35 drops Lavender Essential Oil (Lavandula officinalis)
The process for making this one is the same as for the first sunscreen. You need the bain-mairie and heat the oils on as low temperature as you can; don’t boil the water in the bowl, just gently simmer it or you risk loosing the amazing properties of these oils.
The SPF of this product is quite low; 7. But for the legs and arms it will suit me great. Do bear in mind that we are different and what works for me might not work for you; and the other way around. Always listen to what your body is trying to tell you as well as show you. I will firstly use the medium sunscreen and after a couple of days – week, I’ll switch to a lower factor. The balm/cream turned out a bit thicker then what I initially expected; as you can see form the picture it is yellowish and has a very subtle scent of Lavender. I can’t quite describe the scent of this one, but I would say you can mainly smell the beeswax, shea butter and lavender. Either way, the temperatures will be high and the oils will melt. If not, I will just add either the coconut or olive oil 🙂
Is that all?
Yes, that is all. In the end, just some tips on how to make and use your natural sunscreen. If you are unsure about the information I provided, do check my thorough post/article on the SPF and UV protection in natural oils, herbs and foods.
- Don’t think that if you have a waterproof sunscreen the re-applying won’t be necessary. It needs to be done every couple of hours.
- When making your natural sunscreen, make sure you use or add the oil(s) that can act as a protection against UV spectrum. Meaning, UVA, UVB and UVC. You don’t only risk getting sunburn but skin cancer among other things.
- Avoid the myth on “the higher the SPF, the greater protection”. More on the SPF and differences between the factors can be found in one of my previous posts.
- The quality of the oils: Buy only organic, cold-pressed, unrefined and natural ones. If you can’t find an organic one, make sure it is at least pure and cold-pressed. This way you have much greater possibilities of getting all the best from these amazing oils. In addition, don’t heat them at high temperatures or you risk loosing their properties.
- Do your homework before making your natural sunscreen. Make sure to read which oils work, which don’t, what does the UV and SPF really mean, how can you protect yourself besides the sunscreen and always be wise when exposing yourself to the sun.
- Mark your natural sunscreens with the list of ingredients, SPF and the date when they were made.
These are the final products and that’s about it my dear readers, at least for now. I will get back to you on how the recipes and natural sunscreens turned out. I will be wise on the sun and I will also increase the quantity of the tomatoes and water melon on my diet (no need for the teas :). Until then, enjoy and next time I report to you, I’ll probably be somewhere really hot. Yaay 🙂
Due to many questions I receive, I am now offering a free session – since this article I’ve became a Herbalist, Life Coach and Healthy Foodie and would love to chat with you! It can be about this article, any questions you may have, about food, herbalism or life coaching 🙂 You can book your session here. Yay, I’m really excited to be speaking with you – I love meeting new people and chatting everything healthy! 🙂
“Turn your face to the sun and let the shadows fall behind you” – Maori proverb
*I’ve made the calculation according to the results of the research (see the Table 1 and Table 2) and the proportions of the each oil that I’ve used in the recipe. This is only an approximate evaluation and can be mistaken.