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.

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4.50 from 8 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

Materials

Instructions

  • 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.

Notes

  • 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.
Sources
  1. Environmental Working Group. (N.D.) The trouble with ingredients in sunscreens. 
  2. MacGill, M. (2018, June 18). Which sunscreen should I use? Medical News Today
  3. Siegmund-Roach, S. (2016, July 11). The Truth About Phototoxic Essential Oils and How to Use Them Safely. The Herbal Academy.
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.

Comments

341 responses to “Homemade Sunscreen Sticks”

  1. Heidi Avatar

    Wellness Mama,

    I apologize for being redundant. I now found where you had already answered the question about how many ounces of beeswax in a cup.

  2. Heidi Avatar

    Wellness Mama,

    Since I have noticed that beeswax is purchased by the ounce, I wondered, when you say 1 cup of beeswax, are you talking about 1 cup of the beewax pastilles or 1 cup of a grated or cut up beeswax? Do you know if 8 oz of beeswax would be one cup? Thanks so much for your help.

  3. Elizabeth Avatar
    Elizabeth

    I thought that both titanium dioxide and zinc oxide were known carcinogens? How is this more natural than store-bought? Am I missing something?

  4. Stephanie Avatar
    Stephanie

    This recipe looks great and I can’t wait to try it out! The problem I’m having is that I can’t seem to find the zinc oxide powder. The few pharmacies I’ve asked haven’t even heard of it. One pharmacist, when I told her why I needed it, showed me the zinc oxide cream in the baby isle, but it’s mixed with petroleum jelly (just those two ingredients). I’ve seen that a few other people have asked about zinc oxide cream and I would’ve bought it but wasn’t sure about the petroleum jelly. Any info on this? Thanks!

      1. Stephanie Avatar
        Stephanie

        Thanks! I checked out the link but they only ship with a minimum $100 order. I was able to track some down locally, though! (Thanks – I’m not a petroleum jelly fan, either.)

  5. Amy Avatar

    My father who is a science teacher told me about titanium dioxide instead of zinc oxide for better sunscreen options. Now I looked on Amazon and the Titanium is water proof. Have you ever looked into it before ? I don’t know anything about it if it is truly safe to use. I like to use all natural as well as you and love your recipes.

  6. Sharon Avatar

    Have you tried this on your face? I am trying to switch to all natural products but I live in Arizona and if I don’t wear sunscreen on my face I get terrible dark sunspots.

  7. Khaki Avatar

    Hi! Love this site. I’ve been making body butter with lemon essential oil and was planning to add zinc oxide to counteract the photosensitivity the lemon can cause. It doesn’t work that way? Why? It smells exactly like lemon meringue pie and I’d hate to have to scratch my recipe. Thank you !!

  8. Erica Avatar

    Wellness Mama!! I am LOVING this site!! Just found it 🙂 I saw where you said this made a dozen cupcake molds, do you sell them at all? I would be SO interested in purchasing some!

    Love your site! Thanks so much Katie for your time and info!

    Sincerely
    Erica Montgomery

  9. Cecilia Avatar

    hello how many tablespoon of lotion do we put in the bottle of sunscreen we are making

  10. Shawna Avatar

    Hi, I read you post about the deodorant and how you make it into sticks. Since the recipes are the basically the same base, could I do the same thing with this to make sunscreen sticks ?

  11. Leanne Mitchell Avatar
    Leanne Mitchell

    Hi – These bars sound great, I will definitely be making them because I have rosacea and I fry like a crispy critter in the sun. With these being solid, I can take them on an airplane and not have to worry about “declaring” them!

    Also, thank you so much for your wonderful website. I just found it today and I’ve been thrilled with all the incredibly helpful recipes and information you post!

  12. elcin Avatar

    I love your receipe.
    Can i put them in a small jar instead of making them bars?

  13. Cassandra Delacote Avatar
    Cassandra Delacote

    Is it possible to make the sunscreen without using any beeswax ?(“I can only get the bleached beeswax in South Africa and I believe it is bleached with hydrogen pyroxide, which can’t be good for the skin!).

    Would the sunscreen be less effective? or would it just change the consistency?
    Could I perhaps use castor oil which is easy to find here?

  14. renee hough Avatar
    renee hough

    Thank you so much for this recipe/post, I’ve loved everything I have read on your site! A question I have is regarding the temperature – you mention keep it below 80 degrees but I live in Hawaii and just wouldn’t be able to keep it under 80 degrees at room temperature but also don’t want to have to go to the fridge every time I want to put lotion on :). Any suggestions for a change in recipe or storing method to keep it from melting at higher temperatures? Our max in summer is generally around 90, maybe 95 but the most normal is at about 85. Thanks for any add’l info!

    1. Jessica Avatar
      Jessica

      I live in Hawaii, too. I make this sunblock, pour it in a glass jar, and it stays just fine (inside, outside, just not in the car). In fact, I think it’s easier to apply when it’s a bit soft.

  15. Rissa Marie Verayo Avatar
    Rissa Marie Verayo

    hi katie i am from the Philippines i just want to ask if i can franchise your homemade product because i was planning to start a small business. Could you help me please because i just wanted to help my parents. Right now i was hardly to find a job so this is my second option.

  16. terri Avatar

    Hi Katie I need your help. I got ambitious and made these sunscreen bars into a double batch that didn’t work. I had to pour two jars, one beeswax and one with the rest and melted them down, poured them into a glass bowl to mix everything. I poured the mixture into the molds but it wasn’t until the last one that i realized that the zo was still at the bottom. So, One bar got all the zinc. If i re-melt them will it ruin the zo sunscreen ability? What if i used the microwave, would that make the zo a non-sunscreen?

  17. Noelle Avatar

    Coconut oil in tea!? That sounds really interesting. I assume it’s without any milks too because it’s herbal? I’ll have to try that

  18. dipa rathi Avatar
    dipa rathi

    i want sme gud thing for my dry hair and premature graying of hain my no.8275329415

  19. Roberta Horsman Avatar
    Roberta Horsman

    Was wondering how you know you have an SPF of 20 with the zinc oxide. You use 2 Tbsp. zinc oxide in both the sunscreen cream and bar recipes, but the total contents of the bar recipe is double the cream recipe. Doesn’t that mean you have to double the amount of zinc oxide if the ingredients are double? And the ingredients that are naturally SPF of 4 and 6 Coconut oil and Shea Butter, do you add those numbers to your zinc oxide SPF number? or do they just exist separately? Just asking as I am making a product to market and want to be accurate. Thanks so much! Roberta Horsman

4.50 from 8 votes (6 ratings without comment)

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