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DIY Sunscreen Without Chemicals or Zinc Oxide

It’s taken since the beginning of the summer to source, make, and test this DIY sunscreen recipe. I’m super proud of the fact it’s an effective recipe, made along with my friend Michelle who is a local holistic health nutritionistWe are not doctors, experts in the field of cancer or product manufacturing, but we are two moms on a journey to remove products we see as possibly harmful for our 6 children combined. What changed my thoughts over the last year from buying organic sunscreen to making my own?

DIYorganicsunscreen

There have only been a few times in my life where I totally couldn’t wrap my mind around subjects that should have been easy. Sunscreen has always been one of them. Long time Mommy Footprint readers will know how many sunscreen articles I’ve written trying to get to the bottom of ingredients and why titanium dioxide vs zinc oxide are better choices. The topics of 1) preservatives that make products shelf-life stable and 2) nanoparticles and non-nanoparticles are confusing topics that haven’t been researched enough for my liking. And once you remove the zinc and titanium ingredients from organic sunscreen, you start actually looking at ingredients you are left with and think “Hey – I could make this!” It’s very empowering to find your own ingredients that you can pronounce and understand how each one works within a recipe like sunscreen. Most importantly with this recipe, once you learn the SPF levels of oils and products you have in the kitchen – you’ll really be surprised.

And although I still have mad respect for organic sunscreen companies that have paved the way to cleaner ingredient lists and done SO much to educate consumers (Badger and Green Beaver in particular), I know that sunscreen originated in labs and was created with chemicals that just might have spiked the skin cancer rates over the last 50 years. Cancer rates have increased every year, even with all our knowledge of how to better protect our skin. So rather than just go without sunscreen this summer, Michelle and I have done our research and are happy to follow this recipe from Health Impact News. What ingredients were important to source and use? Red Raspberry Seed Oil and Carrot Seed Oil. Check out the SPF ratings for these two products and you’ll see why. Site reference here:

Carrier Oil SPF
Red Raspberry Seed 28 – 50
Carrot Seed Oil 38 – 40
Wheatgerm 20
Soybean 10
Macadamia Nut 6
Jojoba 4
Sesame Seed Oil 2 – 4
Shea Butter 3 – 6
Coconut 2 – 8
Olive 2 – 8
Avocado (unrefined) 4 – 15
Castor Oil 6
Almond Oil 5

So the recipe we adapted and followed from Health Impact News is:

1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup shea butter
1/8 cup sesame or jojoba oil (next time we’ll swap out for avocado oil)
2 TBSP beeswax granules (use more if you want it more water resistant)
1 TSP Red Raspberry Seed Oil
1 TSP Carrot Seed Oil

Click here to get full instructions on how to make your batch of DIY coconut oil sunscreen. Scroll down to Instructions.

You can use essential oils to scent the sunscreen, but the woodsy smell of the carrot seed oil was enough for our batch. My kids did complain slightly about the woodsy scent, but nothing compared to the fuss they made when we first started using organic sunscreen scented with lavender. ;0

You can use whatever essential oils you would like for scent, but make sure to stay away from phototoxic essential oils, which includes the citrus family and a few others. When these essential oils are exposed to the sun, they can cause the skin to burn faster.  **This is really important information**

Another surprise while we made the sunscreen, Michelle’s hubby was hedging bets that the exercise to make our own sunscreen was going to be much higher than just buying a bottle of organic sunscreen from the store. And we agreed. But then he started doing the math (bless him) and surprised all of us to learn that it was cheaper to make our batch of sunscreen than buying store bought organic sunscreen. And we still have lots of ingredients left over to make more! Here is the breakdown in cost:

1/4 cup (60ml) Coconut oil – ~$ 1.25
1/4 cup (60ml Shea butter – ~ $6
1/8 cup (30ml) Jojoba – ~ $3.75
1 tsp (5ml) Red Raspberry Seed oil – ~ $5
1 tsp (5ml) Carrot Seed Oil – ~$9
Bees Wax ~$.80

We took the average cost of our ingredients to figure out how our homemade sunscreen compared to the average store bought ‘clean’ one.  All of our 6 ingredients are organic and/or Fair Trade. The approximate total cost to make this sunscreen is around $26.  When we put it into the jar we ended up with around 220 ml of sunscreen.  The average price of ‘clean’ sunscreen that we purchase is around $19 and the size of container is around 100ml-125ml.  Our homemade sunscreen works out to be cheaper.

Who did this recipe get tested on?  We finished it at the beginning of August, and although the excitement has been high to share, we completed testing first. My lovely teenaged friend who has worked so much this summer and seen very little sun came with us to the pool and used this sunscreen on a very hot day. No trace of burning or pink. My children have very good base tans but we just returned from a week in the desert and they wore the sunscreen and only deepened their tans. And finally, Michelle’s daughters are very fair skinned and she is loving the results of the sunscreen too!  We are still trying to avoid mid-day super hot sun when we are spending a long time outside, and Michelle uses sun shirts, so please continue to use common sense and respect for the sun and UV. If you don’t already have a base tan, you’ll need to reapply this sunscreen recipe every few hours or more often if swimming. The good news is you’ll love how your skin feels after. If you really dislike the white zinc results from store bought organic sunscreen, you’ll love how this recipe immediately soaks into skin, has little scent, and makes your skin very soft after a day outside.

This recipe for homemade coconut oil sunscreen uses a variety of oils and is safe for the whole family, though you want to make sure children don’t eat any of it. Also, when not in use, store the mixture in the fridge to help extend the shelf-life and prevent it from going rancid.

You will know when you are ready to make and trust using your own homemade sunscreen. When the idea of it no longer sounds crazy, but a really smart, practical, idea.

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Sun Protective Clothing Top Recommendation For Kid’s UV Protection

It still feels weird to say it but the top recommendations from experts this summer with keeping children safe from harmful UV rays are protective clothing, shade and sunglasses. It’s a different way of thinking for parents focused on finding sunscreens every summer, but this year, clothing is recommended as a first step for skin protection – even before sunscreen. With only 8% of all sunscreens being recommended from EWG for 2010, the role of sunscreen is shifting. Once I wrapped my mind around this new information I started researching sun shirts for my boys and protective sun suits for my twins and I found everything I needed at Organically Hatched. This online store has everything you need to protect your family with a full arsenal of sun safety products – from UPF 50+ sun protection clothing, to 100% UV ray blocking sunglasses, organic sunscreen, to recycled sand toys, and more!  I’m so impressed with their sourcing and I especially love the brand of sun shirts and suits I received to review for my kids. The NoZone shirts are North American made (Canada) and after checking with the very helpful owner from Organically Hatched, I’m assured the protection is chemical free.This is the reason I’ve put off buying sun shirts for the last few years…I couldn’t get a answer to that question from stores that import their sun protection clothing from overseas. NoZone clothing is made with quality polyester that provides the same protection as spandex/nylon blend, but is also very durable.

A bigger surprise with the sun shirts and toddler swimsuits has been how much my kids love them. Having no previous experience with sun protection clothing, I’ve been delighted to discover how very effective their UV protection is and this is so important for all parents. I can still remember last year my family’s first visit to the beach that resulted in minor burns for my girls. This year they’ve already been out wearing their adorable one piece swimsuits and I’m very pleased with how effective the clothing’s sun protection is. I also can’t believe how much easier my life is because I only need to worry about putting sunscreen on ear tips, faces, and necks rather than entire bodies. I got the long sleeve sun shirts for my boys – hoping that the long sleeves would not be uncomfortable after they’ve been wet, but I didn’t need to worry because the boys love their shirts. Not only are they gorgeous colors, but the fit is perfect and roomy which is not usually the case for my beefy 8 year old.  The shirt’s material dries very quickly (doesn’t get  heavy when wet), and because they have a zipper in the front – I’m not having to squeeze their heads through a tight neck hole. Only people with kids know how important it is for them to like what they’ll be wearing for hours at the beach and I’m thrilled with the feedback from my kids. Even my girls that love wearing regular bathing suits are completely happy with the fact they wear their sun protective suits outdoors and their bathing suits at our local indoor pool. The boys are ecstatic to avoid last summer’s 20 minute sunscreen application process in exchange for a 5 minute sunscreen application and comfortable shirts.

I’ll mention again that the NoZone brand is made in Canada! I really trust the fact these items are produced in North America and love supporting North American made items. The colors they offer in their sun protective clothing will please any parent and child. I spoke with a representative from NoZone about their shirts and how they protect from the sun. I received a very helpful response to my concern that the clothing isn’t treated with chemicals.  Here is the response.

NoZone shirts are tested to be UPF 50+ and this is the highest rating and it blocks out both UVA and UVB rays. The material is woven together tightly enough that the suns damaging rays are not able to get through the fabric. We do not treat the shirts in any way. The sun protection only comes from how tightly the fabric is woven. Our shirts/ suits are 100% polyester but UV protection clothing is available is a range of different fabrics. We choose polyester for its durability, quick drying properties and several other benefits to the wearer.

What is UPF you ask? It’s not a Mommy Footprint typo – UPF stands for Ultraviolet Protection Factor and indicates how much UV protection is provided by fabric…similar to SPF rating in sunscreen. A fabric with a rating of 50 will allow only 1/50th of the sun’s UV rays to pass through. This means the fabric will reduce your skin’s UV radiation exposure significantly, because it blocks 98% of the UV radiation. This combined with sun hats, sun glasses and a recommended sunscreen will make all the difference with sun protection this summer for children.

A very cool item I noticed while writing this article and gives you insight to the excellent sourcing Organically Hatched delivers are the Aqua Sandals. I’ve never seen water-friendly kids sandals that are made of materials free from BPA, PVC, and Phthalates. WIth the price tag of only $14.99 this is a great product for parents looking for sandals that aren’t made from normal material PVC.

Pictures will be coming soon of my kids in their shirts to show how easy and light they are for children to wear. My boys have the full sleeve shirt in the below picture and they look so handsome against the ‘Marine’ blue colour. It’s been a great start to the summer having this added protection for my kids – check out Organically Hatched and enjoy one-stop shopping for your family’s sun protection.

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