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. Lacie Avatar

    I don’t have silicon molds. Do you think it would stick If I lined a muffin tin with wax paper? About how many normal size deodorant containers would one batch of this recipe fill? And (maybe I missed it) about what spf is this?
    And between this and your other recipe, which would be better overall for a day on the boat and in the water? I.e.: most waterproof and best sun protection so I am not a lobster at the end of the day ?
    Thanks a bunch I am excited to try it!

  2. Becca Gray Avatar
    Becca Gray

    What Vitamin E oil do you use?
    I have heard of using jojoba and carrot seed oil as well. What are your thoughts on those?

  3. Kimberly Avatar

    This sounds awesome! The only question I have is about it being water proof. The beeswax in it makes it water proof…Correct?

  4. Becca Avatar

    What Vitamin E oil do you use? I have also seen jojoba oil and carrot seed oil added to similar recipes. Thoughts on those? Thanks!

  5. sarah Avatar

    This might be a silly question but when you say vanilla, is that vanilla extract or something else? Vanilla scent sounds lovely! 🙂

  6. Holli Avatar

    Could you please confirm that you give all of these supplements to your children, except for astaxanthin? Thank you so, so much for sharing all of this with us! As a mama to 6, this website is such a blessing!

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar

      I do give the supplements besides astaxanthin to my kids (in smaller than adult doses), but check with a doc if you have any specific questions or concerns.

  7. Clare Avatar

    Is there any way to avoid the clumping from zinc oxide? I want to make the sunscreen smooth but it always turns out clumpy? I’ve sifted the zinc, used less, mixed completely, blended longer and it’s always clumpy?

  8. Camille Avatar

    I tripled the amount of zinc oxide in my recipe and it still didn’t work, I’ve been getting tan..which isn’t a good sign. I haven’t been spending much time in the sun, definitely less than 2 hours at a time. I even added red raspberry seed oil, which has it’s own spf. Does the liquid version work better?

    I had to invest in the ingredients so I really want to figure this out.

    1. Barb Lloyd Avatar
      Barb Lloyd

      CAMILLE: I had the same problem… I added way more zinc and no help. An hr into the sun, I burnt. I don’t have raspberry seed oil but do have carrot seed oil, which I added. .. and no luck.

      1. Camille Avatar

        It’s frustrating isn’t it?! hopefully the author will offer some advice.. I’ve been using Blue Lizard sunscreen in the meantime but man, it’s expensive.

  9. Holly Ezell Avatar
    Holly Ezell

    Just a warning – i put 1 tsp of carrot seed oil in mine and the smell is quite overwhelming! Not really in a good way either?

  10. Gina Avatar

    1/4 cup of coconut oil in a cup of tea sounds like a lot. My doctor recommended more like a teaspoon per cup. Do you use 1/4 cup of oil??

  11. Rebekah Avatar

    Is there another zinc oxide you’d recommend as the two links listed are unavailable.

  12. Jessica W Avatar
    Jessica W

    I am looking for an infant safe sunscreen. Would this be safe for a newborn? We are avoiding prolonged sun exposure, but we want to get out safely with 2year old sister this summer!

  13. Desiree Avatar

    Can you use carrot and red raspberry oil in this recipe??

  14. Tiffany Avatar

    this may have been asked a million times but there are so many comments! lol How does the amount of zinc determine the SPF? More specifically how will I know what amount of zinc to use to get the approx. SPF I want. For example, the 2 tbsp in your recipe gives this an SPF of…?

    I hope this makes sense lol
    Thank you!

  15. Brenda Avatar

    I made the homemade sunscreen and was wondering how do you wash the containers? Since the substance is waterproof I am facing a difficult time with cleaning up.


  16. Sarah Avatar

    Hey Katie!

    The link for the non-nano Zinc Oxide that you use is telling me that it is currently unavailable. They do not know when or if it will be back in stock. Is there another brand that you recommend?

    Thanks so much!

      1. Sarah Avatar

        Thank you so much Katie! Thank you for the recipe, your suggestions, and your prompt response! 🙂 God bless you.


  17. Celeste Avatar


    I can’t use any coconut products. Is there a substitute ingredient for coconut oil in your sunscreen recipe?

  18. Karen Avatar

    I understand that raspberry seed oil has a high spf. It also has properties good for the skin. Would you recommend using it in the sunscreen as well, if so how would I incorporate it to the recipe?

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