" Blog da Horta Biológica: DIY Natural Sunscreen Recipe

DIY Natural Sunscreen Recipe

We have been making our sunscreen for a few years now and in this post we are going to share our recipe. Like all other natural products, there are many reasons to make your own sunscreen. Protecting health and the environment will certainly be the main ones. In this post we are going to talk a little bit about chemical sunscreens vs natural sunscreens, natural ingredients and their SPF (Sun Protection Factor), and we will show you how to do it. Watch our educational video at the end of the post.

Chemical vs Natural

Unfortunately, when it comes to chemical vs natural products, there's always some controversy. On one hand, many people desire to return to traditions, to simple natural products that respect health and the environment and that, until the appearance of chemical industries in recent decades, were the products that were made and used by everyone. On the other hand, chemical industries claim that there are dangers in using natural products because they are weak and that chemical ingredients are all tested. In principle, everybody knows what is behind this, so we are not going to discuss what is better or worse and the use of chemical or natural products should be at the discretion of each person.


We start by presenting some facts that we researched about chemical sunscreens.

Many sunscreens, as well as lip balms and  moisturizers contain, among various other toxic ingredients, a compound called oxybenzone also known as benzophenone-3 and BP-3, which is a chemical that blocks UV rays. However, it its known to be an endocrine disruptor, as well as to damage the DNA of corals, and has already been banned in several countries. You can learn more about oxybenzone here and also in this study.

Despite this, it is not uncommon to find those who argue that sunscreen should not be made at home because it is not possible to know for sure the SPF and the chances of suffering from burns are high. Well...we can say that we both have fair skin and never had a sunburn since using our natural sunscreen.


Natural sunscreens are effective and protect the environment and health in general by using mineral UV ray blockers, such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, which are naturally broad spectrum. Zinc oxide works by spreading and reflecting UV rays and is also used as an active ingredient in ointments, especially those to apply on the baby's bottom to take care of rashes. However, unlike chemical sunscreens, natural ones may not be as water resistant or have such a high SPF, which means that applications must be done more often.

Before we move on to the ingredients and SPF, it is important to remember that whether you use chemical or natural sunscreens, and regardless of your skin type, you need to be careful and not get too much sun, as neither one really protects against cancer or other skin problems. For everything is necessary to use common sense.

SPF - Sun Protection Factor 

SPF is the index that determines the time one can stay under the sun without causing the appearance of erythema, that is, without the skin becoming red by solar radiation. In a simple way, when exposed to the sun the skin takes a certain time to turn red. When using a product with SPF 15, the skin takes 15 times longer to turn red. Thus, if the skin supports being exposed to the sun for 2 minutes without burning, with a SPF 15 it can be exposed to the sun for a period 15 times longer, that is, 30 minutes.

In addition to zinc oxide, natural sunscreens are mostly made of vegetable fats, each with its own SPF. Scientific studies have been made over the years to determine the SPF of each fat. Some of these studies can be found on the Natural Oil SPF List website and also on the  Pharmacognosy Magazine website. We will present the SPF of each ingredient further down in the recipe. 

Zinc Oxide

Unlike chemical sunscreens in which toxic ingredients penetrate the skin, in natural sunscreens zinc oxide stays on the surface of the skin without penetrating and reflecting UVA and UVB rays, acting as a natural barrier. For this, you must use non-nano zinc oxide, so that there is no penetration into the skin and subsequently into the bloodstream. It is also important not to breathe the zinc oxide powder when adding it to the recipe, so it is advisable to wear a protective mask.

Let's see how to calculate the SPF when using zinc oxide.

SPF up to 5:  5% of zinc oxide of the total amount of the recipe
SPF 6 to 12: 10%  of zinc oxide of the total amount of the recipe
SPF 13 to 20: 15% of zinc oxide of the total amount of the recipe
SPF greater than 20: 25% of zinc oxide of the total amount of the recipe

The recipe we make results in approximately 250ml  of sunscreen. So we use 4 tablespoons of zinc oxide, that is, the equivalent to 60ml in order to have a SPF greater that 20.



1/2 Cup Coconut Oil - SPF 7
1/4 Cup Sweet Almond Oil - SPF 5
1/4 Cup Beeswax
2 TBSP  Shea Butter - SPF 4-6
1 Tsp Raspberry Seed Oil SPF 28-50
1 Tsp Carrot Seed Oil SPF 35-40
4 TBSP Non-nano Zinc Oxide
Essential Oils (optional)*

*Essential oils with insect repellent effect can be used. Citrus essential oils cannot be used for causing photosensitivity. You can use one essential oil or a synergy (combination). Use a maximum of 40 drops.

*Anyone who does not want or cannot use essential oils, can macerate the vegetable oils with herbs that have a repellent effect. You can see in this post the herbs with insect repellent effect and in this post how to make a maceration.

How To Do It

  1. In a bain-marie, add the oils, beeswax and Shea butter. Let it melt and stir to mix well.
  2. Pour into a glass jar. 
  3. Add zinc oxide (wear a mask to avoid breathing the powder).
  4. Stir well.
  5. Add essential oils and stir.
  6. Stir occasionally while cooling so that zinc oxide is well incorporated. It may take up to 1h to solidify.

Store at room temperature in a cool dry place for up to 6 months.

Some Very Important Considerations

  • According to scientific studies, SPF values are approximate.
  • This is a natural homemade recipe, so it has not been tested in a lab by any regulatory entity. For this reason it is not possible to inform the exact SPF of the final recipe. 
  • This sunscreen is not waterproof, so it must be applied again after swimming. 
  • The use of this sunscreen does not exempt from the usual precautions of exposure to the sun, such as avoiding the hours of greatest heat and moderating the time under the sun, making as many applications as necessary.

Products We Buy For This Recipe And Recommend For Their High Quality

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