by Judy Dutton
Like many overprotective moms, I slather my kid in sunscreen all summer. The irony? According to the Environmental Working Group, many store-bought sunscreens contain potentially dangerous ingredients, from allergens to toxic chemicals. In an effort to shield their kids from these health threats, a growing number of holistic moms are swapping recipes on how to make your own natural sunscreen at home.
According to Marie Delcioppo, who is certified in the use of essential oils and owner of health and wellness center LushVitality.com, making your own sunscreen is a cinch. All you need are the following:
- 2 Tablespoons beeswax or candelilla wax
- 1/4 cup shea butter
- 1/4 cup coconut oil
- 2 Tablespoons zinc oxide powder
Directions: In medium saucepan, combine all ingredients except zinc oxide. Heat over medium heat until all ingredients are melted. Pour into a glass container (like a mason jar) and add zinc oxide. Mix well. Allow to cool and harden.
All ingredients are readily available at health food stores. "You can get zinc oxide powder at a retailer like The Vitamin Shoppe," says Delcioppo. "And candelilla wax is a vegan alternative to beeswax. Since both are used to make lip balms and candles, a craft supply store should carry them."
As is the case with all natural remedies, it's best to consult your doctor before trying them, and test for allergies on a small area first. Still, normal precautions aside, a growing number of holistic experts say homemade sunscreen is as safe and effective as the store-bought kind, if not more so because you're avoiding an array of questionable chemicals. "As long as zinc is at least 20 percent of your solution, you get an SPF of 20 to 30, which is really all the protection level you need," says Daniel Hsu, DAOM, a specialist in complementary and alternative medicine based in New York, New York.
Delcioppo, who researched the efficacy of various natural sunscreen recipes before concocting her own, has been using this recipe on herself and her family and garnered rave reviews. "My nephews and I used it recently at a water park," she says. "Even though we were in and out of the water for a good two and a half hours in the middle of the day, we didn't get burned."
Many dermatologists, however, are worried about this DIY trend, saying there's no way to tell if homemade sunscreens are safe. "Sunscreens are over-the-counter drugs regulated by the FDA, which means they've been proven safe and effective," warns Fayne Frey, MD, a dermatologist in West Nyack, New York. "Making homemade sunscreen is equivalent to making your own over-the-counter drug. Only you can't test the safety of homemade sunscreen in your kitchen. And the dangers of not having adequate protection are great. All in all I'd say it's not worth the risk."
Would you make your own sunscreen? Why or why not?