Special thanks to my friend Allison for sharing these adorable pictures and this safe sunscreen solution that’s my absolute new favorite! A few of my friends have cautioned that they didn’t think this recipe was waterproof, but I’ve been successfully using it on my children when they swim. Skin types vary and the amount of Vitamin D in your diet can really make a big difference on how sensitive your skin may be. Follow your mama instincts and check your children often when they are outside! –Laurie
When my son was about six months old, he and I traveled to Florida to visit my life-long best friend. While there, my BFF and I ate tons of delicious food, stayed up late talking about pretty much everything, and dragged my son along on some good ole’ girl-time shopping.
We also decided to take a day trip to the beach. As we were driving, it occurred to me that I hadn’t brought any sunscreen for my little guy with me, so I did what any good mommy would do: I popped by the local pharmacy, grabbed a pink bottle of the “baby sunscreen” – you know, the one with the cute dog pulling at the bathing suit of a little blonde girl (conveniently in a spray can for easy application), and lathered him up when we got to our destination. We enjoyed a lovely day at the beach and returned home, exhausted but ever-so-happy, that evening.
Is Sunscreen Safe?
Do you have any idea how AWFUL the ingredients in sunscreen are? According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), most sunscreen targeting at babies and children can rate either a 5 (moderate hazard) or a 7 (high hazard), depending on the application form. Some of the main concerns about these products include: biochemical or cellular level changes, endocrine disruption, and organ system toxicity. Talk about a terrifying revelation – especially to a first-time mom! What I thought was protecting my baby boy was actually exposing him in all kinds of garbage.
I, myself, have very fair skin. Ever since I was tiny, I have had to apply sunscreen in large quantities in order to keep from burning. (And let’s be real, fair-skinned people of the world – even WITH a thick coat of sunscreen, it’s still easy to get a burn! Seems like it’s always time to apply another layer of sunscreen when you’re outside.) I am almost 32, so that means for nearly 32 years, I have been exposing my body to all of the gross “stuff” in sunscreen.
Luckily, there’s a way to protect not only your kids, but also yourself, from the harmful ingredients in many store-bought sunscreens. The safe sun lotion recipe below is not only easy to whip up, but does a great job at protecting your skin without undue exposure to harmful chemicals and ingredients! Win-win, right?
Safe Sun Lotion Recipe
- ½ cup coconut oil
- ¼ cup beeswax
- 2 tablespoons shea butter
- 15 drops lemongrass essential oil
- 15 drops lavender essential oil
- 1 teaspoon vitamin E oil
- 2 tablespoons zinc oxide powder
Melt coconut oil, beeswax and shea butter. Add vitamin E oil, zinc oxide powder and essential oils. Mix together and let set in the refrigerator for approximately 30 minutes. Whip for approximately 8 minutes. Transfer to a seal-able container.
**Use caution. Different skin tones and vitamin levels vary from person to person. The amount of sun lotion used and how often it should be applied may vary as well. Use common sense and reapply often (every 60-80 mins), especially if sweating or in water. This recipe has been updated based on further SPF research and the correcting of the common misconception that carrot seed “carrier” oil and carrot seed “essential” oil have the same SPF. I was not able to find any SPF information on carrot seed essential oil, so I replaced it in my recipe with lemongrass essential oil based on the SPF claim in the linked article below. I did however experience good results with my original recipe that included carrot seed essential oil. For more specifics on the SPF available in the above products read the following articles which I found to be helpful when determining whether or not DIY sun lotion was a reasonable replacement for sunscreen. -Laurie**
Kaur, Chanchal Deep, and Swarnlata Saraf. “In Vitro Sun Protection Factor Determination of Herbal Oils Used in Cosmetics.” Pharmacognosy Research2.1 (2010): 22–25. PMC. Web. 8 Aug. 2017.
Ewg.org “What’s Wrong With Hight SPF“
How to Avoid Sunburns
It’s vital to remember how important sunscreen is for your overall health. Even if you have the type of skin that doesn’t burn easily, the sun can still damage your skin. Getting a sunburn is only an immediate sign of damage; it is still possible to have damaged skin, pre-cancer, or even skin cancer with darker, non-burn-prone skin.
According to Cleveland Clinic, here are some good rules to follow when applying any sunscreen:
- Apply sunscreen at least 20-30 minutes before going outdoors, especially if you will be exposed for 30 minutes or more. If you wait until you are already outdoors or at the beach, you may already be perspiring, and moisture makes sunscreens less effective.
- No matter your age, skin tone, or time spent in the sun, everyone should use a sunscreen with at least an SPF of 30. If you have fair skin, precancer, or skin cancer, you should use sunscreen with an even higher SPF.
- Reapply sunscreen every two hours while you are outdoors, even if you are using a product that advertises “all-day” wear. If you get wet or perspire heavily, reapply more frequently.
- Cover all exposed areas, including your ears, lips, face, neck, and the backs of your hands. (If you part your hair, be sure to put some sunscreen on the part to avoid burning your scalp.)
- Don’t skimp on how much sunscreen you are using. Apply a generous layer; smooth it over the skin, rather than rubbing it in. A rule of thumb is that 45 ml (approximately the size of a shot glass) of sunscreen is needed to cover all exposed skin to the suggest level of protection.
- Women should apply sunscreen under makeup.
More Tips for Avoiding Sunburn
While staying indoors is the best way to avoid the harmful effects of the sun, no one wants to stay inside all the time! If you have kids like I do, staying inside constantly isn’t even an option. There are parks to visit, splash pads to run through, and pools in which to cannonball. The Cleveland Clinic offers some tips to further avoid sun damage to your skin:
- Avoid going outside in the middle of the day (around 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.); this is the time of day when the UV rays from the sun are strongest.
- Wear protective clothing. If you are outside during the time of day when the UV rays are the strongest, try to cover as much skin as possible. This includes wearing long-sleeves and pants, as well as a wide-brimmed hat. (For kids, the rash guard-type swimsuits provide a lot more skin coverage than a standard swimsuit.)
- Wear protective eyewear – specifically sunglasses that filter UV light.
Thankfully, neither myself nor my son has had any evident negative effects of using the store-bought version of sunscreen. However, I am so excited that there is a better, ditch and switch, safe sun lotion option that works just as well.
Bring it on, summer! We’re ready for you!
Allison Sauceda is a stay-at-home mom, freelance writer and blogger at thehouseplantmomma.com. She has a life-long love for Jesus and is active in her local church. You can generally find her reading children’s books, folding mountains of laundry or changing diapers. Search “Allison” in the sidebar to read other posts she’s written here on the blog!
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