Homemade Sunscreen Sticks

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Wellness Mama » Blog » Beauty » Homemade Sunscreen Sticks

I’ve had fun lately creating several different varieties of lotion bars. I started with the basic recipe and realized the options were truly endless for variations. Sometimes I’ll use a mold, but I like making lotion bar sticks too for even easier application. One of my favorites so far is this DIY sunscreen stick!

Mineral Sunscreen Stick

It’s basically a stick version of my homemade sunscreen. It also avoids all the harmful chemicals, parabens, and potential carcinogens in regular sunscreen. And it’s easier to apply than a cream since it’s in a bar or stick form which makes it easier for kids to do it themselves. It glides across skin for easy reapplication as needed.

There are a few different ways to make these depending on how you like them. If you want some cute shapes and a handheld version, then use silicone molds. Muffin tins also work well if that’s what you have. The least messy option is to make a sunscreen stick with a twist-up tube or deodorant container.

It has hydrating ingredients that are moisturizing and great for sensitive skin. Because it’s basically a lotion bar with sun protection it’s perfect for dry skin too. If you’re prone to acne then this may not be the best sunscreen face stick option for you though. Coconut oil is not non-comedogenic, and neither is cocoa butter. Shea butter and mango butter though are much less likely to clog pores.

Sunscreen SPF

But first, let’s put on our science hats for a bit and geek out on the details of SPF. SPF stands for sun protection factor and tells how much UV protection you’ll get from your sunscreen lotion. It’s calculated by dividing the amount of sun exposure that causes the skin to get red by the amount that causes skin reddening without sunscreen. For example, if it takes the skin 30 times longer to burn with sunscreen on than without, that’s SPF 30.

However, this doesn’t take into account different skin types, skin tones, how much someone sweats, or other weather conditions. While many sunscreens are marketed as water resistant, this doesn’t mean they’re waterproof. If you’re in the water for several hours dermatologists recommend you reapply.

You’d think that a broadspectrum SPF 50 would have way more protection than SPF 15, but that’s not really the case.

  • SPF 15 – Blocks 93% of UVB rays
  • SPF 30 – SPF 40 – Blocks 97% of UVB rays
  • SPF 50 – Blocks 98% of UVB rays

There are also two different types of rays, UVB and UVA. UVB rays cause skin reddening while UVA does not. A broad-spectrum sunscreen will cover both, but UVB is what SPF is rated for.

Chemicals in Sunscreen

Skincare companies use chemicals like oxybenzone and octinoxate in sunscreen to absorb sun rays. Research has found these are absorbed into the body in unsafe amounts and can cause problems like hormone disruption. Sun sticks that promise ultra-sheer coverage are more likely to use risky chemicals. Sunscreen sprays are another option often full of harmful chemicals.

Drugstore brands like Neutrogena, Cerave, Aveeno, Sun Bum, and Cetaphil sheer mineral sunscreen stick all have ingredients I’d rather avoid. Other popular sunscreen brands include Supergoop, Eltamd, and Shiseido. These all score high on EWG for toxic ingredients. Another good reason to make your own!

Other more natural options are ingredients like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. These sit on top of the skin and block UVB rays. I always opt for non-nano zinc oxide since the particles aren’t small enough to be absorbed into the bloodstream. Mineral-based sunscreens are reef-safe and the safest and best sunscreen options for the skin.

Ingredients in DIY Sunscreen Sticks

I use coconut oil in these because it has a mild SPF on its own and adds a nice texture. If you have a coconut allergy then you can replace the coconut oil with a mix of liquid oil and more beeswax. Mango and shea butter both have a natural SPF of 4 and help moisturize and protect skin.

Beeswax helps thicken everything up and the zinc oxide provides protection from the sun’s rays. I also like adding vitamin E to extend the shelf life and add some skin-nourishing antioxidants. You can make a fragrance-free version or add essential oils for a nice scent and added skin benefits.

Certain essential oils are phototoxic, meaning they can cause burns if applied before sun exposure. Do NOT use lime, lemon, or bergamot essential oil in this sunscreen! Grapefruit may be phototoxic, but the jury is still out on that one. Other citrus options like sweet orange, tangerine, and mandarin don’t have this problem.

sunscreen stick
4.43 from 7 votes

Homemade Sunscreen Sticks

These DIY sunscreen sticks are easy to apply, even for little ones! Use silicone molds for fun designs, or use tubes for even less mess.
Author: Katie Wells



  • Combine the coconut oil, shea butter, and beeswax in a double boiler. You can also use a glass bowl over a smaller saucepan filled with a few inches of water.
  • Bring the water to a boil and stir ingredients until melted.
  • Remove from the heat and add the zinc oxide powder, vitamin E oil, and essential oils. More zinc oxide gives you more sun protection, but it also makes a thicker layer on the skin.
  • Pour into your molds or tubes and allow to cool completely.
  • Store at room temperature or in the fridge. Keep below 80 degrees or they'll start to melt.


  • You can use different shaped molds for different designs or use a square baking pan and cut them into bars. 
  • You can use any amount of shea, cocoa, or mango butter you want as long as they total 1/2 cup.
  • Experiment with how much zinc oxide you need to use for your skin type and sun exposure needs. 

What SPF is Homemade Sunscreen?

The short answer here, is I don’t know. No one does without extensive (and expensive!) testing. Because this is a homemade product not made in a lab I can’t guarantee exact SPF amounts and I’m not going to try to guess. However, with the amount of zinc oxide used and from my family’s personal experience using this I can say we’ve had good results.

Natural sunscreen needs to be reapplied every few hours and after swimming. Normally I like to use hats, sun-protective clothing, and shade whenever possible.

Storing Your Sunscreen Sticks

I recommend keeping your sunscreen sticks in the cooler if you take them to the beach. They’ll start to get soft in higher temperatures. These sunscreen sticks store well at room temperature though.

I’d also encourage experimenting with how much coverage you want based on how much Zinc Oxide you add to the recipe. These have a smoother, thinner, and more waterproof coverage than my basic sunscreen recipe.

Don’t Forget Your Vitamins!

When possible, it’s also important to spend some time in the sun without sunscreen for vitamin D production. I try to get a few minutes of morning sunlight each morning, plus more in the afternoons. And of course, it’s really important to eat your sunscreen! There are also supplements and high-nutrient foods that help us avoid burning when we don’t use sunscreen.

About this time of year, I start taking a specific regimen of supplements that help reduce inflammation and improve sun tolerance. Here’s what I take:

  • Vitamin D3 (I take about 5,000 IU/day)- Emerging evidence shows that optimizing blood levels of Vitamin D can have a protective effect against sunburn and skin cancer. Here’s where I get it.
  • Vitamin C – (I take about 2,000 mg/day)- A potent anti-inflammatory and it’s good for the immune system too. What I use.
  • Coconut Oil– the Medium Chain Fatty Acids and saturated fat are easily utilized by the body for new skin formation and are protective against burning. I don’t use this as much anymore since my body does better with fewer saturated fats.
  • Fish Oil – I like to get my fish oil naturally from low-mercury fish options like salmon and sardines. These healthy Omega-3s reduce inflammation and help protect skin. Here’s what I use when I need a fish oil supplement.
  • Astaxanthin– A highly potent antioxidant that research shows acts as an internal sunscreen. It’s also anti-aging, anti-inflammatory, plus other benefits! I use this one.

Do you use sunscreen? What kind do you use? Share below!

These sunscreen lotion bars contain zinc for a natural sunscreen without the chemicals. The natural coconut oil and butters provide SPF and moisturize skin.
Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. WellnessMama.com is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


338 responses to “Homemade Sunscreen Sticks”

  1. Pam Randolph Avatar
    Pam Randolph

    Sorry if this seems like a stupid question but I live in a small town and the only zinc oxide cream I found was in the form of desitin and it is only 40%  zinc oxide, is this okay to use? I am assuming that it would be the lesser of two evils out of commercial sunscreen….

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar
      Wellness Mama

      You could try it… I haven’t tried with a cream, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work. It just might be hard to not leave a white film, so play around with the ratios…

  2. Kimberly Avatar

    Could I use a cleaned out deodorant applicator instead of a baking pan?  I’m just trying to think of ways to easily apply/transport.  And I think having the ability to roll up the amount I need would be beneficial. 

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar
      Wellness Mama

      absolutely! This is how I did the deodorant bars I made and it works great.

  3. Julie Avatar

    Could you use zinc oxide cream instead of powder in this recipe? I can’t find the powder anywhere except on line.

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar
      Wellness Mama

      You could, just make sure there aren’t any other dangerous ingredients with the cream…

      1. Nichole Avatar

        Would the bars still harden, with using the zinc oxide cream?

        Also, the only beeswax I can find is sold in pellet form. So per 1 cup coconut oil, would it be 1 cup of pellet beeswax, or one cup of melted beeswax?

  4. Rachael Avatar

    One of my kids is allergic to coconut products :(…is there another type of oil that you can substitute for the coconut oil?

  5. Nvorlovsky Avatar

    How do you know when to reapply or what SPF it is? I have tattoos that need protecting.

  6. sarena Avatar

    These look great! Thanx. Curious, how about using a crockpot geared especially for this purpose?

  7. Mary Avatar

    Do you have a suggestion for a oil to use other than coconut oil?  (due to allergies)

        1. Tanita Avatar

          Citrus EO’s are known to cause skin to be photosensitive, meaning more prone to sunburn, for about the first 45 mins after applying them to skin.

  8. Mary Avatar

    Okay, I have another technical question.  If I order a pound of one of the butters, do you have any idea approximately how many cups that would be?  Same for beeswax? (An rough estimate is fine, I’ve never worked with these products, so I have no clue.)

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar
      Wellness Mama

      I would guess about 2-3 cups or more per pound. My one pound jars of each are about the size of a quart mason jar

      1. Brenda Avatar

        I’m really excited to make these! I am a bit confused, though…. Were you saying (in using 1tsp Vit E with each 1C of ingredients) that in using 1C Shea, 1C Coconut oil & 1C Beeswax, I should use a total of 3tsp Vit E?

  9. Edward Hutchinson Avatar
    Edward Hutchinson

    I’m sure most people are aware that generally  speaking what you put on your skin surface can be detected in your urine later that day (apart from Zinc oxide where the particle size is too big to pass through skin). 
    So limiting  sunscreen ingredients to those you may find in food is sensible. 
    Far better than the ingredients you find in typical sunscreens. 
     http://www.greenlivingtips.com/articles/127/1/Sunscreen—protection-or-poison.htmlSome of these are really very worrying. 

  10. dawn Avatar

    Do you need to make these in a mold that you won’t use for food?

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar
      Wellness Mama

      Technically all of the ingredients are non-toxic. They will leave a small film that is tough to wash, but this actually works as a non-stick coating on it…

  11. Cathy Avatar

    We do occasionally use my homemade sunblock (made with zinc oxide, could also use titanium dioxide), but avoid sunscreen altogether, as it contains chemicals which react with the skin  to “protect” the skin.  They are actually very different products, though the names tend to get mixed up.

    1. Shauna Avatar

      Why is my non nano zinc not mixing into my mixture properly. No matter how well I stir, when I pour, all my zinc is at the bottom of my measuring cup when I pour my last pour.

  12. Cindy Avatar

    Can the astaxanthin be taken during pregnancy or while nursing?

  13. Colleen Avatar

    I am completely addicted to your site.  This is an amazing idea!  Totally pinning it.  Thanks for posting!

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar
      Wellness Mama

      Yes though the amount of protection depends on the amount of zinc oxide

      1. Sarah Avatar

        My sons Pediatrician and allergy Dr. had recommended that with his Atopic dermatitis I avoid sunscreens with zinc oxide, but go for ones with the titanium dioxide instead. It does seem to make a difference with store bought sunscreens. He doesn’t breakout from the titanium ones, but does with most zinc. I would like to make these but am curious where I can find the titanium dioxide, if you know of any reasons not to use it, and if it would be used in the same amount as the zinc oxide. I have to make our own soap, laundry detergent and lotions already since his skin is so sensitive. I would much rather make this as well, and not have the chemicals in the store bought items. Thanks for what you do! It’s been very helpful.


        1. Colleen Avatar

          Hi Sarah, I am a soap maker and have purchased titanium dioxide from brambleberry.com. I have never used it for sunscreen so I don’t know a specific amount to use, but I know they carry it.

    2. Wellness Mama Avatar
      Wellness Mama

      Yes though the amount of protection depends on the amount of zinc oxide

      1. Kristen Junker Avatar
        Kristen Junker


        And since sunscreen is an OTC drug according to the US FDA, I hope all of you DIYers are submitting the bars with the agglomerated zinc oxide to an acreddited laboratory (approx. $700) to find out that they are nowhere near adequate….nope, didn’t think so. Even of it stayed suspended (commercial brands use coated zinc oxide for a reason), it won’t be broad spectrum.

  14. Mary Avatar

    Are your bars standard muffin/cupcake size (seem so from the glasses comparsion, but wasn’t sure) and how many does one batch make? I’m trying to get a guage on how much supplies to buy.

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar
      Wellness Mama

      Mine are standard muffin tin size and I used silicon because they are easier to get out but if you use a regular muffin tin you can just put in the fridge to harden and then really quickly dip the pan in boiling water to loosen and turn upside down quickly to get them out. I used 1 cup each of the oil, cocoa/Shea butter and beeswax and it perfectly filled 12

  15. Pacha Avatar

    Seems that the commercial “natural” sunscreens that “repel bugs” contains lavender.

  16. Brooke Redfern Avatar
    Brooke Redfern

    I can’t wait to try this. What do you use to store the individual bars in?

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar
      Wellness Mama

      I’ve got a few in the fridge in cellophane bags, but I have little pyrex containers with lids that hold the ones we use 🙂

  17. Bahain Avatar

    What would be the best essential oil to repel bugs in these?

    1. Dawn Martin Wilson Avatar
      Dawn Martin Wilson

      What a great idea! I didn’t even consider the multi-use! I am gonna go look online for that now, I am guessing Thyme or Basil.

      1. Pamela Avatar

        Hello! I am going to make this for the first time but will incorporate a few drops of either lemongrass, rosemary, mint or catnip oil. They all repel mosquitoes. Thanks so much!

    2. Wellness Mama Avatar
      Wellness Mama

      I just ordered a blend and have actually been pretty impressed with it so far.

      1. Olug Avatar

        Thank you so much for sharing all of this information! Would you use this blend on a baby?

      1. Stephanie Avatar

        Be careful with EO’s as many of them stain!! I found this with many bug sprays I made incorporating Geranium, Lemongrass, etc. Only EO I have found doesn’t stain is Birch Wood, but I can’t make any promises. Haven’t found a consice list of non-staining EOs on the web. Lemongrass seems to leave terrible rust coloured stains when I put my clothes/swim suits through the wash. This always coincided with use of some EO.
        I bet this recipe is amazing. I will make.
        The deoderant bar recipe is the bomb! I will try half coconut oil this time and use only Shea butter. I wish for more specific measurements of the different butters because they each have different consistencies and would like to made one that can be left out of the fridge. So true about leaving stick in fridge so less oil costs your pit.
        P.s. You cannot entirely omit the coconut oil. It lends a velvety consistency, creates a thorough coating, and seems to help with the odour side of things as well…in case anyone was thinking of experimenting in this way.

        1. Cristy Avatar

          Aloe butter and castor seed butter works well in place of coconut oil. It lends a similar(even better silky smooth glide) ??? I use the combo for clients that are allergic to coconut.?

    3. Eliza Avatar

      Planning on making a few different ones actually 😉 One with lavender (really helps with burns on the off-chance we have burns), geranium (helps with dry skin/eczema), and then some TerraShield (which is a mix by DoTerra for insect repellant)

    4. Eliza Avatar

      Also, has anyone tried putting these in containers like push up deodorant containers??? Would that work???

      1. Marilyn Avatar

        I made this and filled one deodorant container with it, which worked fine. I poured the rest in a pan and cut into bars. The bottom of the bars are white, what is the reason for that? Has all of the zinc settled to the bottom of the bar? I hope not.

        1. chellie Avatar

          Marilyn, I feel like the zinc settles in my bars as well. And, I often have it left at the bottom of the jar I make it in. They do still work, but if you can see it settled then it probably is stronger on that side of the bar. I have started using carrot seed oil along with or even instead of the zinc. It has a natural spf of about 40, and it blends great!

          1. Rena Avatar

            A lot of the zinc settled to the bottom of my mixing bowl too. I’m worried that not enough zinc made it into the molds. Do you think it’s safe to re-melt the bars and add more zinc?

          2. Penny Avatar

            Hi Chellie, would you happen to know where I can buy these? or anyone who sells homemade ones?


          3. Kirsten Avatar

            The zinc settled immediately- before I could even pour into molds. No matter how much stirring! Help, what am I doing wrong?

    5. Teresa Avatar

      doTerra has a wonderful TerraShield for keeping bugs away! You only need a little bit and it works WONDERFUL! totally safe for kids! we use it each summer 🙂

      1. Alakim Avatar

        With the deodorant tubes how many will we get with this recipe?

    6. Jess Avatar

      Clove is great against mosquitos but can have an overwhelming scent. Cypress oil acts as a natural deet. Perhaps a combination of both. That’s what I do for homemade bug repellent

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar
      Wellness Mama

      They will last about 2-4 months at room temp and over a year in the fridge or freezer. Also, none of the ingredients will go bad, so only after they come in contact with skin will that time start…

      1. Sara Thyng Avatar
        Sara Thyng

        which one would be better for the outdoor water park? sunblock bars or sunblock cream? The sun gets very hot here in Wichita KS.

        1. Lisa Avatar

          I have made both and hands down I prefer the sunscreen bars. I make them in deodorant containers so it’s a roll on. They stay solid and mess free. The cream version gets liquidy while out and gets all over the container…. sticky mess

      2. Sara Thyng Avatar
        Sara Thyng

        I just made this today. Love how smooth it is when you put it on. How do I wash the bowls and utensils I used to make these? I think the waterproofing beeswax is making it really hard to wash off!

        1. Kayla Avatar

          Scrape as much as possible and then wipe out with a paper towel while still warm. Best way to clean up that I’ve found. 🙂

        2. Nicole Avatar

          Try putting them in the freezer. It will freeze the wax and should make it easy to scrape out without leaving a residue.

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar
      Wellness Mama

      Practically none at all. I was shocked actually, but since it can go on so much thinner as a bar, it doesn’t leave the ashy look…

      1. Jen Avatar

         I just made it tonight.  I didn’t realize until I got down in the recipe that the zinc oxide was to be ‘powdered’.  I used cream.  Hope that’s not a problem.  I bought one of those tubes for camping that you can fill with stuff and seal off at the end.  I poured the mixture into that tube.  Hopefully it will squeeze out okay.  Can’t wait to try it.  I’ve made the shampoo and LOVE it.  I made the lotion but it didn’t emulsify properly … using it anyway.  I will try that one again and put it into one of these camping tubes this time.  Thanks for all the recipes.   Not too sure about the make-up one … I’m middle aged now and not sure this makeup will do the trick.  I’ll be curious to hear feedback on that.

          1. Kayla Avatar

            Hi Welness Mama 🙂

            Would patchouli oil be okay in this recipe?

    2. Travis Avatar

      Is there any way to make the sunscreen slightly less hard. I used to love the Vietnam-era sunscreen tins (don’t start I know it was LOADED with chemicals) but mostly for the fact that it was in a tin & that was easy to apply. It was like a heavy grease, you just take a big gob out with your fingers and smear it on. I would love to be able to do whit again with the empty tins, as they are now $5-15 online (since they are much rarer now) and regular commercial sunscreen is much cheaper. I am trying really hard starting this year to get healthy, and that includes less chemicals going into and onto my body.

    3. Marlene Avatar

      Can you tell me how much of the food items you take to prevent sunburn from the inside you give to children? I believe what you’ve posted is for yourself as an adult. How much would you use for, say, a 6 year old, or a 12 year old? Thanks!

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