Homemade Sunscreen Sticks

Katie Wells Avatar

Reading Time: 6 minutes

This post contains affiliate links.

Read my affiliate policy.

sunscreen stick
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. Melanie Avatar

    First of all, this recipe seems amazing! So thrilled and cant wait to try it. I bought every ingretiend I need but I had a question…. I bought Beeswax and I was wondering if the 1 cup was for melted beeswax of solid cause this would double the dose…

    Thank you so much for your website! This is so amazing to be able to do everything at home! Specially love the deodorant recipe! Its amazing :)))

  2. Maloree Munn Avatar
    Maloree Munn

    Can you give me some tips on how to get kids to take the fermented cod liver oil butter blend. I have the chocolate flavor, and keep it in the fridge. I scrape a small ball out of the bottle each day and swallow it like a pill. But it has been really tricky to find a way to get my kids to take it. Any suggestions?

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar

      Chocolate? Sounds like a smoothie! If you make them fruit smoothies you might be able to sneak it in… Do a sort of strawberry chocolate thing.

  3. Carly Avatar

    How do you think this would work with having photo-sensitivity as medication side effects? I don’t really burn until I’ve been outside a while, but even five minutes can leave my arms with a type of rash that gets really itchy and welts up? And sometimes the part of my chest exposed by my shirts (right next to my neck). Rarely anywhere else.

    I use coconut oil in my tea daily. I take Vitamin D3 (about 10,000 IU/daily as the winter months are winding down). I don’t take any vitamin C, as I’m on a ketosis diet, and without carbs, vitamin C is not needed. I can’t get fermented cod liver oil anywhere close to me or affordably. Is there are alternative. What about to the butter oil blend? And I don’t even know what Astaxanthin is….

    I have the coconut oil on hand, but not really any of the rest of it, and I am wondering what else might work??

  4. Viki B Avatar

    Hi, I found your site while looking for a recipe for lotion butter. On your zink it links to Amazon and the price is $15.99. I purchase most of my oils and bulk items from Bulk Apothecary and checked their price for the same 1 lb. is only $5.98 if you want to save some money 🙂 I have purchased many of their oils and bases and they have good prices and are fast shippers. I am not associated with them I just always check their prices first when I need these kind of things and thought I would pass it along.

  5. Renee Avatar

    What would you say is the estimated cost involved with making a batch of sunscreen bars? I’ve found a woman who sells the bars and was trying to decide financially if I should buy hers or make my own.
    Thank you!!

  6. Andi S Avatar

    I’m going to Key West in a few months and want to make sure the sunscreen I use isn’t going to damage any of the coral while snorkeling. I’ve looked at various brands that say they’re reef safe, but they still contain questionable ingredients that I’m not comfortable using. I’ve used this recipe before and I would assume that it is safe, but I just thought I’d ask. So could this sunscreen be considered reef safe? Thanks!

  7. Tammy K Avatar

    Hi Wellness Mama,
    I’m a huge fan of your website and diy products! I have a question for you. I have really oily skin and after about 30 min of applying any type of lotions, makeup on my face, it gets shiny. I am wondering if adding a bit of bentonite clay to your face sunscreen lotion (not the bars) would help with the shine. How about applying a bit of the bentonite clay onto face directly before applying makeup? Please send me your suggestions. Thank you so much!

      1. Christina Avatar

        What would you recommend in place of beeswax? I just found out I have an allergy to propolis in beeswax

  8. suneep Avatar

    I just made it and use it today. I love it. But i want to know if it’s safe to apply on eyes and lips area. Thank you. I love your site!

  9. Aja Avatar

    I’ve been hearing a lot about carrot seed oil for sunscreen, fact or fiction?

  10. Cheryl Avatar

    My dermatologist told me that no amount of sun is OK. She also said that you will still get the benefits of Vit D with sunscreen on. The problem is not the few days we sit in the sun or suntan, although that is a problem.. The problem is cumulative sun over your lifetime. I have skin cancer on my left arm. That’s the arm that gets sun exposure when you drive. That is no coincidence. I also have it in the corners of my forehead where I tend to miss the sunscreen. Wear sunscreen every day-its the best thing you can do to prevent wrinkles, skin cancer and age spots. I have always used it on my face and I look twenty years younger until you see my hands and chest. Love the idea of this and will try to make it higher SPF. I also will poor some in a lip gloss tube to carry in my purse. My hands are in constant exposure to the sun from driving. This way I can reapply often. Great idea, Wellness Mama. Be careful about any sunscreenless sun exposure. I have large, noticeable scars from teeny, tiny dots of skin cancer. Hoping to protect you!

  11. Vicky Avatar

    Hi Katie,

    I only have a bit of beeswax left but i have a lot of soy wax. Would that be fine if i use 1/4 beeswax and 3/4 soy wax?

  12. Angelica Avatar

    I’m going to use this recipe to make some sunscreen lip balms so I wanted to add a little vanilla to it. I have some vanilla absolute diluted in jojoba. Would adding vanilla cause any concern in regard to sun exposure? Thanks!

  13. Barb Avatar

    I made my own sunscreen today for the first time. Can’t wait to try it out. Now my question is regards to cleaning my kitchen tools: my measuring cup, whisk, spatula! I have tried soap, lemon juice, vinegar and baking soda and muscle. I have a really hard time getting the white residue off everything. Any helpful comments would be much appreciated 🙂

  14. Gina Avatar

    Congrats Mama on an awesome website. I’ve been reading with great interest for hours and with anticipation of trying many of your recipes. I’ve made a list, but what to try first!
    I note the comment re: Vitamin E used as a preservative in a couple of your recipes and thought I would share info regarding Vitamin E and its function…
    Application: Vitamin E can be added into the oil phase of a formulation where it can work as a skincare active and an antioxidant to reduce the likelihood of oxidation of the formulation. Vitamin E is NOT a
    All the best and thanks for the time you take in sharing your info.

  15. Leigh Avatar


    I’ve been doing a lot of research on vitamin E oil and sweet almond oil…..do you recommend a company that is 100% pure and organic?


  16. Lizzy Avatar

    If someone else has already said this, I apologize for the redundancy. If you are especially sensitive to poison ivy, you may not want to use mango oil. I get poison ivy very easily and can enjoy mango very carefully, but MUST wash my skin well if I get mango on it. The two allergies are related. I just had a vision of what would happen if I smeared mango oil all over myself, and it wasn’t pretty. I hope this helps someone.

  17. Maire Avatar

    Hi, I made a batch of sunscreen with the coconut oil, olive oil, zinc oxide, beeswax and vitE. it dried yellow, and it is somewhat hard. It does rub in, but i really wanted a softer consistency. So I have two questions: Can I go back and reheat the batch to fix the consistency? and what can i add to make it more liquid/softer, like a lotion?


  18. Rachael Avatar

    I just finished making sunscreen and basic lotion bars that I intend on using on myself and my 6 month old daughter and noticed that the beeswax pastilles have a label on the back that says “WARNING: (California Proposition 65): This product contains a chemical known to the state of California to cause birth defects or other reproductive harm.” Is this true?

    1. Katie - Wellness Mama Avatar

      That warning is on basically everything in California… basically, california Prop 65 mandated that if a chemical had the potential to cause cancer in any way it had to have that warning label. Definitely do your own research, but I don’t worry too much since practically everything we come in contact with will require that label

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating