Sunscreens without Toxic Chemicals

Protection of the skin through use of a beach ...
Protection of the skin through use of a beach umbrella (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When it comes to the summer, never allow yourself to burn.  And, it is important to realize that most commercial sunscreen products cause more harm than good.

The most harmful chemicals in sunscreen include Oxtinoxate, oxybenzone and Homosalate. Anything you put on your skin can be absorbed by your body, particularly these chemicals as they have a high absorption rate. Even if sunscreens are labaled “all natural,” make sure to read the list of ingredients, because many of these products contain harmful chemicals.   It is best not use anything on your skin that you would not eat.  Coconut oil is one of those ingredients.

For these reasons, there are several recipes listed below that contain coconut oil (as well as other organic oils) below to help you protect yourself from harmful chemicals as well as UV-B.

Common oils offer a natural source of SPF protection without the harmful toxins. These include red raspberry seed oil (SPF28-50), carrot seed oil (SPF38-40), wheat germ oil (SPF20), soybean oil (SPF10), macadamia oil (SPF6), and jojoba oil (SPF4). Other oils, such as coconut oil, olive oil, sesame oil, hempseed oil, and shea butter offer low SPF protection but are still valuable additions in your homemade sunscreen, as they are moisturizing and fragrant.   Many natural ingredients have SPF properties; and when combined, the right ingredients can form a powerful sunblock.  See the last section of this page for their SPF ranking.

SPF refers to Sun Protection Factor, a recognized world standard, but it is not a perfect measurement of skin damage.   The sun protection factor of a sunscreen is a laboratory measure of the effectiveness of sunscreen — the higher the SPF, the more protection a sunscreen offers against UV-B (the ultraviolet radiation that causes sunburn).  The SPF is the amount of UV radiation required to cause sunburn on skin with the sunscreen on, as a multiple of the amount required without the sunscreen.   Keep in mind that the protection from a particular sunscreen depends, besides on SPF, on factors such as:

  • The skin type of the user.  See the Fitzpatick scale chart below.
  • The amount applied and frequency of re-application.
  • Activities in which one engages (for example, swimming leads to a loss of sunscreen from the skin).
  • Amount of sunscreen the skin has absorbed.


Type Also called Sunburning Tanning behavior Von Luschan’s chromatic scale
I Light, pale white Often Occasionally 1–5
II White, fair Usually Sometimes 6–10
III Medium, white to light brown Rarely Usually 11–15
IV Olive, moderate brown Rarely Often 16–21
V Brown, dark brown Very rarely Sometimes darkens 22–28
VI Very dark brown to black Extremely rarely Naturally black-brown skin 29–36

To know what is recommended for your skin type, visit




FDA is requiring labeling on sunscreens.  For more information, please click on article from “MOTHER JONES”:


Please note that coconut oil does only block about 20% of UV rays.  Consequently, if you plan to be out in the sun for an extended period of time, you will want to add in some non-nano zinc oxide for increased protection.

English: Coconut lying on the Maldivian beach ...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Coconut Oil Sunscreen I

The simplest recipe is to use coconut oil, cold-pressed extra virgin.

  1. You can apply it when it is in it’s hardened form by just scooping out a couple of tablespoons and applying it to your skin.
  2. Or you can use the coconut oil in it’s liquid form (when melted) and put it into a squirt bottle to apply to your skin.
  3. Apply either form every couple of hours to provide the most UV protection.  If you have very fair skin, apply it every hour.

Coconut Oil Sunscreen II

  • 1 ounce oil with SPF listed above (or any combination of them)
  • 1 ounce coconut oil, cocoa butter, or shea butter
  • 1 ounce beeswax (offers waterproof protection)
  • 5-10 drops of your favorite essential oils
  1. Combine all ingredients in a glass jar.
  2. Fill a saucepan a couple inches high with water and turn the heat to medium.
  3. Put a cap on the glass jar without sealing it closed, and place the jar in the pan filled with water. As the ingredients in the jar get warm and soften, mix until completely melted and smooth.
  4. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Apply as a sunscreen throughout the summer.

Coconut & Carrot Oils Sunscreen III

  1. In a dark glass bottle, mix the following:
  2. 2 teaspoons carrot seed oil
  3.  2 teaspoons coconut oil
  4. 1 teaspoon avocado oil
  5. 1 teaspoon wheatgerm oil
  6. 5-10 drops lavender essential oil (lesser amount for young children)
  7. 5 drops camomile (Roman) essential oil
  8. 1-2 drops geranium essential oil
  9. Optional, add some Rescue Remedy.

Coconut Oil Sunscreen IV

  • 3 tablespoons unrefined sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon unrefined jojoba oil
  • 1 tablespoon unrefined avocado oil
  • 1 tablespoon almond oil
  • 2 tablespoon cocoa butter
  • 1 tablespoon shea butter
  • 1 teaspoon bee’s wax
  • 1 teaspoon lecithin (sunflower or egg-based is best)
  • 2 tablespoons aloe vera gel
  • 2 tablespoons rose water
  • 1/2 teaspoon borax
  • 20 drops carrot seed essential oil
  • 3 to 5 drops coconut fragrance oil (optional)
  1. In a double boiler, melt the cocoa butter and bee’s wax slowly.
  2. Add the sesame, jojoba, and avocado oils.
  3. Now add the lecithin. Mix well and remove from heat. (It is important to remove from heat before adding the shea butter; otherwise the shea butter will become grainy when it gets too hot.)
  4. Add the shea butter and mix it until the shea butter dissolves.
  5. In another small pot mix the rosewater, aloe vera gel and borax. Heat the mixture gently while stirring constantly. Once the borax has dissolved completely remove it from the heat and let cool.

Coconut Oil Sunscreen V

For another version, visit

If you are reluctant to make your own, go to this web site to purchase safe sunscreen applications.

bar mellow yellow


Eat foods rich in carotenes (e.g., sweet potato, carrots, pumpkin (yellow/orange foods), spinach, collards) and Vitamin E (e.g., avocado, nuts, seeds).

And stay away from tanning beds.  Say NO to commercial products, too, unless they are truly organic!

Despite the importance of the sun to vitamin D synthesis, it is prudent to limit exposure of skin to sunlight and UV radiation from tanning beds.  According to the National Toxicology Program Report on Carcinogens from the Department of Health and Human Services, broad-spectrum UV radiation is a carcinogen thought to contribute to most of the estimated 1.5 million skin cancers and the 8,000 deaths due to metastatic melanoma that occur annually in the United States.  Lifetime cumulative UV damage to skin is also largely responsible for some age-associated dryness and other cosmetic changes.

It is not known whether a desirable level of regular sun exposure exists that imposes no (or minimal) risk of skin cancer over time. The American Academy of Dermatology advises that photo-protective measures be taken, including the use of sunscreen, whenever one is exposed to the sun.  But select wisely, because synthetic chemicals are endocrine disrupters, causing a number of serious illnesses.

Prolonged optical exposure to sunlight, especially intense ultraviolet light, may even be linked to cataracts.

Sunscreen (Photo credit: Joe Shlabotnik)


 Red Raspberry Seed Oil – SPF 28-50 | Red Raspberry seeds contain high levels of omega 3 and omega 6 essential fatty acids in addition to antioxidants and natural vitamin E. According to Anthony J. O’Lenick, author of “Oils of Nature,” red raspberry seed may also contain clinically significant anti-inflammatory properties.

Carrot Seed Oil – SPF 38-40 | Carrot seed oil is an essential oil with significant antioxidant, antiseptic, antifungal and fragrant properties with high levels of vitamin A. When applied topically to the skin in the form of a diluted carrier oil, carrot seed oil also provides natural sun protection.

Wheatgerm Oil SPF 20 | Wheatgerm is one of the best sources of natural vitamin E and is also a good source of vitamin K, B vitamins and choline. When applied to the skin, wheatgerm oil helps to moisturize tissues and acts as an antioxidant to prevent free radical damage.

Avocado Oil – SPF 4-15 | Avocado oil has a natural hydrating ability and is deeply absorbed by the squamous layer of the skin. Because of its chemical properties and its ability to retain water, avocado oil acts as an emollient, and promotes soft and supple tissue.  It also rich in omega-3 as well. Omega-3 has been shown to be a highly effective protector from UV solar radiation, thus decreasing chances for sunburn and skin cancer risk.

Castor Oil– SPF 6 | Castor oil has a low molecular weight, which means it is absorbed readily into skin, and hair, providing nourishment and moisturizing effects.  It is also anti-inflammatory and analgesic.

Macadamia Oil – SPF 6Macadamia nuts provide vitamins, minerals and antioxidant fatty acids.Macadamia Nuts and Shell image by MrGreenBug from Fotolia.comMacadamia nuts are native to Australia though most of the world’s supply comes from Hawaii. Good sources of magnesium, iron, phosphorous, potassium and vitamin E, the oil from Macadamia nuts also contains a natural plant chemical called cinnamic acid which provides a variable SPF level of 6.

Shea Butter – SPF 3-6  | Shea butter has many properties (evens skin tone, absorbs quickly into the skin without leaving greasy residue, moisturizes and protects the skin, does not clog the pores, and is naturally rich in vitamins A, E, & F.

Coconut Oil – SPF 2-8 | On a molecular level, coconut oil penetrates deeper into the skin.  It contains lauric acid that, when absorbed by the body, changes into a compound called monolaurin, an antiviral, antibaterial agent that is essential to the immune system’s fight against harmful microbes.

Olive Oil – SPF 2-8 |  A fantastic source of vitamin E, olive oil has many antioxidant properties; it absorbs UV vadiation and appears to assist in repaining cells and preventing cell damage.

Almond Oil – SPF 5 |  Almond is a vital ingredient for skin care in Ayurveda.  According to the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, it was found that topical almond oil is capable of preventing the structural damage caused by UV radiation, and it was also found useful in slowing down the photo-aging process.

Jojoba Oil  – SPF 4 |  Jojoba is a desert shrub effective for treating eczema, psoriasis and dry skin.desert plants image by Carol Tomalty from The oil of jojoba is effective as a moisturizer for dry skin and contains a natural plant chemical called myristic acid which provides some limited sun protection. Jojoba oil has a low SPF of 4.

Sesame Oil – SPF 4 | Although it has a stronger aroma than most oils, sesame oil has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and quickly penetrating properties.  It is a cell-growth regulator and is rich in vitamins A, B1-3, and E.

Other Oils – A variety of vegetable oils such as olive and sesame contain low SPF protection. Other natural plant oils with low SPF levels include sea buckthorn oil and hemp seed oil. In addition, green tea extract provides antioxidant polyphenols with low to moderate SPF protection. These oils and extracts are all great additions to any homemade, natural sunscreen.

These oils can serve as substitutes in some of the recipes above.

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From a Yellow Canary of the 21st century, living in our disabling biosphere

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