For many years most of us have had it drummed into us that we need to be sunsmart and wear sunblock outdoors, even on cloudy days.
We've been told it'll decrease our risk of skin cancers.
So it was a little surprising when I read about the dangers of using commercial sunscreen. Most of them contain dangerous ingredients that can disrupt your endocrine system, among other things. Sorry I'm not listing links to the research, but if you want to find that information, it's available online.
I guess the fact that parents are advised to used specific baby/toddler sunscreen for young children is a good indicator that there's something toxic in commercial sunscreens. Much like how small children are advised not to use adult toothpaste, which is also damaging...
It's also then surprising that so many Australians are deficient in vitamin D, since we supposedly get too much sun! A lack of vitamin D has actually been linked to several types of cancer, including breast cancer. Of course there would be more to it than just a lack of sun exposure, but you get the idea. We need sun, but we don't want to get burnt by the sun.
Getting pure light, such as the dawn/early morning light each day is also great for balancing your melatonin levels and helping you sleep. We certainly weren't created to be indoors all the time.
But back to the point-sunscreen. We live in a country with rather high UV levels and though the sun is an essential part of our diet to maintain optimum health, there are still times when we're out in it for longer than our skin can tolerate. Especially during this hoiday season. Pictured above is my husband, who has been setting up shade netting for our market garden and therefore spending long hours in the summer sun each day. Even with all his sun protective clothing, he still has to wear sunscreen to avoid burning.
We started using hoemade sunscreen almost 2 years ago, so we've had enough experience with it now to assure you that it works, and is much gentler on your skin (nourishing even!) than commercial sunscreen. Zinc oxide powder is the active ingredient.
Our first trial was 3 hours at the local pool with my 6 children (one of whom was an infant at the time) wearing this sunblock. One application, and no one came home sunburnt.
Then Rick has been wearing it this summer out in the paddock and has been very impressed with how effective it is. This is big news coming from a man who was a bit skeptical and still using commercial sunblock for a while after the rest of the family had switched to homemade!
This link has more info.
But for basic instructions, read on!
To make your own natural sunscreen, you'll need
1/2 cup good quality oil. I used macadamia, but almond or olive are good too.
1/4 cup coconut oil (SPF 4)
1/4 cup beeswax (you can find this at local markets, online, or direct from a local beekeeper)
2 Tbsp zinc oxide powder (We got ours from N-Essentials, online)
Optional: 1tsp vitamin e oil
Optional: 2 Tbsp shea butter (SPF 4-5)
Optional essential oils or vanilla extract for scent. Just avoid citrus essential oils, which don't agree with the sunshine!
I also added about 1Tbsp calendula extract, which is great for the skin and we happened to have in the cupboard.
Get an old clean jar (old jam jar, preserving jar or the like is great) and pour in all ingredients excepting the zinc oxide powder.
Sit it in a pot of water over a medium heat on the stove.
Allow this to heat until your beeswax and shea butter (if you used it) have completely melted. You will need to stir occasionally.
Once melted, stir in your zinc powder. I'll tell you now, this powder takes a bit of stirring to mix evenly through. And make sure you stir it again immediately before pouring the sunscreen into it's jars.
Once well mixed you can pour the mix into jars to cool. I like to use recylcled salsa jars or recycled avon cosmetic jars. Whatever you use, make sure it seals well, because I can tell you from experience, that it's not pretty to open up your bag or cosmetic case and find sunscreen has leaked over everything!
If you try this, let us know how you go with it.