Explore this straightforward homemade lotion bars recipe to create non-toxic, natural sunscreen bars that are kind to dry skin, offer protection from harmful chemicals found in standard sunscreens and boast a longer shelf life.
In my household, we don’t often reach for chemical sunscreens, as we’ve mastered the art of avoiding lengthy sun exposure during the hottest parts of the day. Yet, when full-day outdoor escapades, like hiking or lakeside picnics, are on our agenda, we opt for using sunblock.
Many of the store-bought sunscreens tend to expire before we get around to using the entire bottle, a problem that piqued my interest in natural, homemade lotion bars. These sunblock lotion bars, unlike water or aloe-based mineral sunscreens, promise a longer shelf life.
Not only do these sunblock bars, made from non-toxic ingredients, avoid the use of harmful chemicals found in standard sunscreens, but they also prove incredibly simple to prepare. Especially if you’re accustomed to making DIY beauty recipes, you’re likely to have all the necessary components at your fingertips, with the exception of zinc oxide. Securing this one-time purchase will have you well-equipped for years. This homemade lotion bar recipe is perfect even for dry skin, striking a balance between natural sun protection and skin nourishment.
- By the Numbers: How to Make Sunscreen Lotion Bars
- Tips for Making Sunscreen Bars
- Homemade Sunscreen Lotion Bars
- Popular DIY Beauty Recipes
- ¼ cup of shea butter
- ½ cup of coconut oil
- ¼ cup of beeswax pastilles
- 1 tablespoon of vitamin E oil
- 1 tablespoon of sweet almond oil
- 10 drops of lavender essential oil
- 3 tablespoons of non-nano particle zinc oxide powder
- Double Boiler
- Electric hand mixer
- Silicone mold of your choice
By the Numbers: How to Make Sunscreen Lotion Bars
Follow these simple step-by-step instructions to learn how to make your own non-toxic homemade sunscreen lotion bars.
Step 1: Melt Shea Butter, Coconut Oil and Beeswax
Add ¼ cup of shea butter, ½ cup of coconut oil and ¼ cup of beeswax pastilles to a double boiler over medium heat and stir frequently until it’s melted and clear.
Step 2: Add Vitamin E and Almond Oils
Remove the pan from the heat, then stir in 1 tablespoon of vitamin E oil and 1 tablespoon of sweet almond oil until well combined.
Step 3: Add Lavender Oil
Add 10 drops of lavender essential oil, then stir until well combined. You can also omit this step for unscented sunscreen bars that are great for sensitive skin.
Step 4: Add Zinc Oxide
Whisk in 3 tablespoons of non-nano zinc oxide, slowly and carefully. It’s best to wear a face mask while you do this step so you don’t inhale the zinc oxide. If you need to use a hand mixer to get it fully incorporated, you can transfer it to a large mixing bowl.
Step 5: Pour Into Mold and Cool
After everything is evenly incorporated, pour the mixture into your silicone mold, and allow it to cool completely. You can place the silicone mold on a cutting board or cookie sheet and place it in the fridge for a couple of hours to expedite the process.
Step 6: Use Sunscreen Lotion Bars
Once the sunscreen bars are completely cooled, remove them from the silicone molds and store them in an airtight container, like a mason jar, in the fridge until you’re ready to use them.
Tips for Making Sunscreen Bars
Answers to all of your questions about making DIY sunscreen lotion bars, including tips and substitution ideas.
Tip: Clean up quickly
Be sure to immediately wash everything as zinc oxide can be difficult to clean up. Make sure to use hot, soapy water for best results.
Here are some ingredient substitutions you can make if you don’t have something on hand, or can’t use one of the ingredients.
- Shea butter: you can also use mango butter or cocoa butter, but they will slightly alter the scent and hardness of the lotion bars.
- Coconut and almond oils: you can use any carrier oil that you like in place of these oils, such as avocado oil or olive oil. Read my guide to carrier oils for more information.
- Zinc oxide: You can also use titanium dioxide, but the SPF may be slightly different than what’s explained below.
- Lavender essential oil: You can omit this completely or choose another sun-safe essential oil. Whatever you do, do not use any citrus essential oils in this recipe or you will burn.
Sunscreen expiration dates
You can go by the expiration dates on your ingredients when you’re making things like lotion bars, salves and other DIY projects that don’t contain water-based ingredients (including aloe). Simply use the expiration date of the ingredient that expires first and you have the expiration date of your latest DIY goodies.
Calculating SPF in homemade sunscreen
While it’s impossible to perfectly determine the SPF of homemade sunscreen, how much zinc oxide you add will vary the SPF. To calculate an approximate SPF, use these percentages in your sunscreen recipe:
- For SPF 2-5, you’ll want to use 5% zinc oxide
- For SPF 6-11, you’ll want to use 10% zinc oxide
- For SPF 12-19, you’ll want to use 15% zinc oxide
- For SPF 20+, you’ll want to use 20% zinc oxide
Always use common sense in the sun and reapply sun block often, especially after going in the water or perspiring.
How to use sunscreen bars
To use sunscreen bars, simply rub the bar gently onto your skin until a thin layer is visible. Ensure all exposed skin areas are covered, paying special attention to frequently missed spots such as the back of your neck, ears, and the backs of your legs.
Reapply every two hours, or more often if swimming or sweating from being in the hot sun. Remember, these bars should be used in conjunction with other sun safety measures, like wearing protective UPF clothing and avoiding peak sun hours.
Purchase natural sunscreen instead
If you don’t want to fiddle with making your own sunscreen bars, but you want to buy something amazingly high quality, check out Earth Mama Organics. We’ve used their products for a dozen years now, and they have a great Mineral Sunscreen line.
However, I think you’ll enjoy the rewards of making your own sunscreen bars this summer. And be sure to whip up a batch of after-sun aloe vera spray. Your skin will love it after a long day in the sun!
Homemade Sunscreen Lotion Bars
- Double Boiler
- Electric hand mixer
- Silicone mold of your choice
- Add shea butter, coconut oil and beeswax pellets to a double boiler over medium heat and stir until melted and clear.
- Remove the pan from the heat, then stir in the vitamin E oil and sweet almond oil until well combined.
- Add the lavender essential oil, then stir until well combined.
- Whisk in the zinc oxide, slowly and carefully. Be careful not to inhale any of the powder.
- Pour the sunscreen lotion mixture into a silicone mold and let it cool completely on the counter at room temperature or in the fridge.
- Once the sunscreen bars are completely cooled, store them in an airtight container, like a mason jar, in the fridge until you’re ready to use them.