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. Moet Avatar

    Is the beeswax necessary & is it safe to use essential oils on kid’s face?

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar

      The beeswax keeps the bars from melting too much. I use them on my kids… I think it’s fine. If you are concerned, you could try it without the oils… They are mostly for scent anyway, and totally optional.

  2. Ashley Avatar

    I’m vegan and would love to make this without the beeswax, is there an alternative to this ingredient? Thanks!

  3. Jessica Avatar

    I just tried this recipe…I mixed all the ingredients (with the zinc) for at least 5+ minutes. I thought I had the zinc mixed into all the melted oils well so I poured it into many molds. When I got toward the end of the oils, it was a think, clumpy mess of melted oil with lots of zinc. Any advice on how to mix the zinc in better?

    Can I remelt the bars and then re-pour them to get the zinc more evenly mixed in?

  4. Jennifer Avatar

    Why no citrus in the sunscreen bars? I wanted to add this “bug off” mix of essential oils.

  5. chellie Avatar

    I have trouble with the zinc oxide blending. I always have some left at the bottom of the jar. I’ve added it slowly. Any tips for this?

  6. Carolyn Ang Avatar
    Carolyn Ang

    I make these sunscreen bars every summer for friends and family so THANKYOU! After watching North By Northwest this morning about the importance to of protection from uva and uvb I was curious if the sunscreen bars are effective to protect from both? Thanks:)

  7. Syrita Barbera Avatar
    Syrita Barbera

    Love this mix, our family has used it for myrtle beach and Florida trips. Worked great, goes on white but then disappears. Be careful with anything that has coconut oil, it melts quickly and seems to find a way to leak out of any container. The best I have found is a glass jar and I still put it in a zip lock plastic bag. Thanks for the site. Love it!!

  8. Kat Avatar

    Hello, thanks for all your wonderful posts!

    I just tried making these bars, but made a fatal mistake! I halved all of the ingredients (1/2 cup of the oils and wax) and accidentially put in 1/2 cup of zinc instead of 1 TBSP! Is there anyway I can still use these so the material isn’t wasted? Like remelting a half of one into a new batch, or should the zinc not be reheated?? Thanks for the advice.

  9. Amanda Avatar

    I have light skin and I burn VERY easily. I never use sunscreen lower than 50spf. I plan on making this. I go to a lot of music festivals, and they are very hot so I won’t be able to cover up. I’m gonna try to use an umbrella for the sun, but I can’t always do that. What is the max SPF I can make this? How much zinc oxide should I use for the maximum coverage? I don’t care about white streaks. I just want it to be easy to put on (so I don’t get deterred from reapplying. I expect to reapply very often) and work.

  10. SaraBeth Avatar

    Can you use Tea Tree Oil in this recipe? I’m making these as a party favor for an outdoor wedding! Great price point for the bride on a budget:) Thanks!

  11. Ellie Avatar

    Katie, When I made these bars I didn’t have zinc oxide so I included myrrh and other oils that have a bit osf spf each and we love the bars. But now I have the zinc and was wondering if I could melt my remaining bars to add the zinc or I should make a new batch. Im concerned with heating up the oils that are already in the mix. Any help will be truly appreciated.

  12. Jess Avatar

    So excited to have found your website & recipes. Looking forward to making these today. I was reading through your bug repellent lotion bar recipe too – can the two be combined to make a 2-in-1 sunscreen/bug repellent bar? Infuse the herbs in the oil & then follow the rest of the directions for this recipe? Or, are there bug repellent EO’s you recommend using (individual oils, not blends) in this recipe? Thank you!!!!

  13. Faith Avatar

    I hate to add ANOTHER question to this long list, but I’m shopping for Vitamin E oil, and can’t seem to settle on one. Do you recommend a particular one? (There are so many containing soy, which we DON’T use, and other fillers…)


  14. Kaitlyn Avatar

    Wondering if I can make these vegan by substituting the beeswax for something else? Also, wondering what the approximate SPF is,

  15. Quianna Avatar

    I will definitely be trying this for me and my son who is 1.5yrs. If I were to try the supplements how do I get a little one to take them? Are there alternatives? I think I can get the vitamin D3 and C in powder but not sure about the fish oil? Thanks!

  16. Cami Avatar

    I LOVE your whole blog and sometimes when some of us are sitting around wondering about different health questions or thoughts or natural recipes we say “Let’s check what Wellness Mama says,” Anyway, as I was getting ready to make your sunscreen bars for the summer I was e reading aver the internal SPF you recommend as far as supplements goes and I found this on Cod Liver Oil from Mercola…

    I’d like to know what you think about this…

    1. Katie - Wellness Mama Avatar

      I read this and looked in to it too… unfortunately, it coincided with his split from the Weston A. Price foundation and his release of his own Krill oil supplement which he promotes as an alternative to FCLO, so I don’t believe his motives are entirely pure!Also, the studies he refers to are testing regular cod liver oil and not fermented, which can go rancid, altering the form of Vitamin A. I also take Vitamin D or get adequate sun exposure with FCLO to make sure to keep Vitamin D and Vitamin A in balance, which is his main point in that article… Hope that helps 🙂

  17. Brittany Avatar

    Love how simple the recipe is, I am new to all this! 🙂 How much SPF is this recipe? Wanting around a 30spf and wasn’t sure how to figure out how much zinc powder to add to this recipe or if what you called for is enough? Thanks!

  18. Jeannette Monroy Avatar
    Jeannette Monroy

    I’ve been reading these comments and haven’t seen any mention of adding carrot essential oil which I believe has natural sunscreen properties. I found another recipe when I was searching that called for 1/2 cup of coconut oil and 10 drops of carrot oil it claimed 30 spf. 10 for the coconut oil and 20 for the carrot oil. It also said reapply often if in direct sunlight.

  19. Mark Avatar

    What is the approximate SPF when using two tablespoons of Zinc Oxide?


  20. Heidi Avatar

    Hi Wellness Mama,

    I wondered where you buy your Vitamin E oil? Thanks so much for your help.

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