Make your own SPF with Coconut Oil

DIY sunscreen
Today is the first day of winter and here in Pennsylvania it’s cold and snowy. What a great day to day dream about our up coming vacation to Mexico and being preparing by making my own SPF with Coconut Oil!

Coconut Oil is the most logical oil to use for SPF, since it naturally protects your skin from the sun. During the summer months, I frequently use coconut alone when I’m in the sun… However when my skin hasn’t seen the sun in months and I’m going to spend 7 days in sunny mexico, I do protect my skin with a little SPF also (Zinc Oxide is the natural-healthy SPF to choose – remember the old-time lifeguards with white noses? That was Zinc Oxide!)

Did you know that there are studies showing that using chemical based SPF on your skin increases your risk of getting skin cancer MORE than sun exposure! Personally, I’m not afraid of the sun and think that there are more health risks associated with not getting enough sun (and Vitamin D) then there are of getting too much sun! But you still need to be smart about sun exposure, a burn is a burn and it’s never good. You know your skin and it’s important to take precautionary steps to avoid burning, whether it’s gradually building up your exposure, using all natural SPF, etc.

With my dark hair and medium skin tone, it’s no surprise that I don’t burn easily. My hubby on the other hand is blonde with fair skin, burns easily….well he USED to burn easily! Check out my post on How to increase your body’s natural SPF, from the Inside out! I share our secret SPF-Supplement regime we use during winter to prepare for vacation sun exposure.. Going from cold and snowy Pennsylvania to the hot tropical sun of Mexico, we don’t burn thanks to smart use of a healthy diet, Non-Toxic SPF and our SPF supplement regime!

If you aren’t interested in making your own SPF, I strongly recommend Dr Mercola’s SPFs.. we used them all last year and there were awesome! But I encourage you to try making your own, you’ll see how simple it is!

Recipe yields 2 cups of SPF Lotion:
1c Coconut Oil, melted over very low heat (Click HERE) or (Click HERE) for the coconut oils I use.
1/2c Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Shea Butter Lotion (Click HERE to buy)*
1/2c Zinc Oxide Powder for 20 SPF or use 1/4c for 10 SPF (Click HERE for the Zinc I use)
1/2c Filtered Water

Combine everything in your blender, and blend until well combined/emulsified. I keep mine in the freezer when I don’t need it, it will keep about 3-4 months at room temperature. (for us one batch will last us all year) And always save containers to recycle them by reusing.. .the SPF20 is in a recycled small ketchup bottle and the SPF 10 is in a recycled Method Furniture Polish Spray Bottle 🙂 You can increase the SPF by increasing the Zinc Oxide… and if your house is cold it will become thicker and when you take it in the sun and it heats up it will be thinner 🙂

*I mentioned in my Whipped Coconut Lotion Recipe why I love Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Shea Butter Lotion….. Check it out 🙂



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  1. not sure if it has been mentioned as i only skimmed over the first few comments, but raspberry seed oil as a natural spf between high 20s and thirty.. i’m in the process of searching for a high quality one to make a natural spray sunscreen… my daughter luckily has her fathers cherokee skin and doesn’t burn, maybe a tad pink a couple of times. She needs the Vit D and suscreens cause just as much skin cancer if not more than the sun… not to mention a bad diet leaving a body with inadequate building blocks to create new healthy cells instead of mutated ones. We (as a society) switched to hydrogenated oils to save on fat and calories to ward off rising heart disease (caused and amplified by so many other things), and either avoided sun contact (causing vit d deficiency which can lead to depression… something that seems to plague us) or slather on sunscreen to avoid skin cancer and cancers of all kinds have skyrocketed since these practices became widely practiced… and why wouldn’t it still be recommended… each idustry involved is in and of itself a billion dollar industry. i have freckles/beauty spots/moles head to toe with a few removed for precaution all coming back negative and my doctors fully support my natural approach to skin and suncare.

  2. I would like to know if a home made sunscreen can protect me from being many days (all day) in the sun.. Am a backpacker and for many days in a row (even weeks), am exposed to the sun when doing hikes or whatever. Now am in australia so i know i need good protection. Will this be enough or should i better buy a product in a store?

    1. Jeremy – there are so many variables to what you are asking and I cannot possibly make that decision for you. First of all if I were you I’d start by boosting your internal SPF using the supplements I suggest 10 weeks before you’re long days of sun exposure. You would also have to use your judgement based on how your skin has reacted to the sun in the past — for example if you are a red-head who burns easily VS a brunette who tans quickly….

      I have dark hair and medium toned skin that historically would burn once then tan the rest of the summer. After taking my SPF boosting supplements I can vacation in Mexico without using any sunscreen and not burning. My husband who has light hair and burns easily can use just a little sun screen without burning.

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  6. Thank you Hayley. I’m thinking of the consistency of Vanicream, the sunscreen lotion that we’ve been using on the kids in the past several years, which has zinc oxide in it. Or at least the consistency of the Shea moisture coconut & hibiscus body lotion that is used in your recipe, which is soft but not runny. Is yours more like liquid soap? Anyway, would it be fine if I leave out the water and add 1/4 cup zinc oxide powder into it now? I really don’t want it to be too runny… Thank you.

  7. Thank you for the post! I wonder if the water has to be filtered water as I don’t have a filter at home. Can I just use cool boiled water instead?

    1. Cindy – I always encourage filtered water for your health, but tap water will work similarly.

      1. Thank you for replying 🙂 Maybe I can use bottled water instead… I’m actually hand mixing the first three ingredients without adding the water but it is already so liquidish that I don’t think I should add water to it. Will it be this thin or will it thicken up by itself? Shall I put water into it anyway? Thanks!

          1. Hi, it’s 6 hours later and it is still very thin and runny, like smoothy. Did you make yours in winter time? Or maybe it should be 1/2 cup coconut oil instead of 1 cup and no water is necessary? Right now I guess I have to put 1/4 cup if zinc oxide powder to make it thick and will it be 30 SPF this way? Thanks.

          2. Cindy – what consistency are you looking to obtain? I’ve had many people (including myself) make this recipe multiple times w/o an issue. It’s a lotion, you’ll want to rub it in. If it’s too thick it won’t come out of the bottle – which is what happens here in the winter making it a very thick paste. With anything that contains coconut oil it will become more liquid in the heat and more solid in the cold.

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  11. I LOVE SheaMoisture.Picked up some lotion last year and had my granddaughters and husband get me more for my 60th birthday!

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  14. Fastidious answers in return of this matter with genuine arguments and telling all about that.

  15. hello I live in UK and cannot find the shea butter you use. Would the following be OK?


  16. I’d love to include this post in a round-up post I’m working on featuring DIY, all-natural sunscreens. Ok to include a photo with full credit to you and a link to this page? I’m in VGN too.

  17. Hi- I am excited to try this- can you tell me about how many ounces this makes? A rough estimate is fine. I was also wondering about the consistency of the 20SPF- for instance, could I store it in a pint jar and dip it out with my finger? Or would it be too thin for that? Thank you!!

    1. about 16 to 20 ounces. If it’s kept cold you can scoop it out of a jar, if it’s above 76 degrees it will be really soft.

  18. Silly question I live in Arizona, and we go to San Diego often for mini vacations. We don’t generally wear sunscreen at home, but I have to in California. I have 3 young girls that like to have their hair braided in two, and I’m trying to avoid the sunburn down the middle of their head. You said coconut oil has natural spf in it do you think it would help if I kept that line hydrated in coconut oil?

    FYI… I wish I needed to melt coconut oil right now 🙁

  19. I need an SPF that is waterproof. Is this sunscreen mainly for dry use or will the coconut oil help it to remain on the skin while wet? My daughter has very sensitive skin and I am exhausted in the search for sunscreen that does not irritate.


  20. You also recommended Dr. Mercola’s SPF’s…do they leave a white residue on your skin or does it rub in well?

    1. All zinc based sunscreens have the potential to have a white (my skin gets a purplish hue).. Zinc creates a barrier to protect the skin, the barrier isn’t completely clear. Lower SPFs have less zinc hence less residue potential. To reduce the residue, I put on thin layers when I use spf (which is only on tropical vacay or extreme sun exposure on my hot spots early in the summer.. I’m in the sun often so I gradually build a tan and don’t need spy)

  21. Do you have any problems with the zinc separating from the mixture? My husband works outside and has to west sunblock daily to avoid being burned, so I would love to be able to make this for him.

  22. I am wondering do you melt the coconut oil before you add it to the blender and add everything else or blend everything together and then melt everything together??

    1. yes the coconut oil is melted (see the post).. add it as a liquid to your blender and everything else.. the only thing that needs melted is the coconut oil 🙂

  23. I looked into making homemade sunscreen last year but when I looked up the zinc oxide I saw that it is very harmful to breathe in the powder form. Also, is there another way to mix it? I am not going to use my blender for a non food item (something that shouldn’t be eaten). I personally think that’s gross. Thanks!

    1. Jenny, please do what makes you comfortable. I only use all natural products and I am not worried about using my blender since I clean it well.

    2. In theory you can mix it by hand, but I would imagine it would require lots of mixing 🙂 Hence why I use my blender. Perhaps you can find one at a yard sale or thrift store for your non-food uses.

  24. How much zinc oxide approximately for 30 SPF ? Also, I have skin allergies to gluten and am gluten free inside and out. What brand of zinc oxide powder did you use? Thank you so much for your help!

  25. Hi! Love this! However i mixed up a batch 3 days ago…Bought everything n amazon… And it seems to have separated… Liquid on bottom… Thick lotion on top. Doesn’t mix back together n it was hell cleaning my blender… So I can’t blend again lol do u keep it frozen to avoid this?!?help!!

    Ps. This would not squeeze out of any containers?!?

    1. Taylor,

      I made some yesterday and mine is currently a solid. I don’t have it in a clear container, so I’m not sure what it looks like on the bottom. If you can heat it up just a little bit, you can try using a hand mixer to blend it. That is what I did. The clean up wasn’t too bad. I just soaked the bowl and beaters in warm water and then put them in the dishwasher, which took care of everything else. I’m currently trying to decide how I’m going to get it to come out of a squirt bottle, though. I’m thinking about seeing if I can find an empty deodorant tube to use instead.

  26. I live in Germany and can only find zinc oxide in a cream form. Do you know how much I would need to make spf 20? Or the highest spf (I have small children) that I should go? I have heard that above some number, it really is all the same. Thank you!

  27. A question for anyone who has experience working with zinc oxide – does it have a strong scent? Specifically – will this homemade sunscreen have that usual “sunscreen scent”?

    My husband hates the smell of sunscreen, and if zinc oxide isn’t the source of that typical sunscreen smell, this recipe would be a godsend. :]

    1. When I think about sunscreen scent I think of the coconut/pina colada scent.. is that what you’re asking about?? I don’t think zinc has a smell 🙂

    2. I didn’t smell anything from the zinc oxide. The lotion ends up smelling similar to the coconut and hibiscus lotion.

    3. Thank you both for the info!

      My husband says that he can even pick up a hint of a metallic scent from sunscreen (the zinc oxide, I assume!) that he doesn’t like, but what he really hates is the pina colada scent. So I think that I’ll just mix some up with coconut oil and beeswax instead of scented lotion – maybe with some patchouli to hide the metallic scent! I think he has a bionic sense of smell… :]

      1. Okay, after making a batch, I can confirm that the zinc oxide does NOT have a scent, metallic or otherwise!

  28. Would any lotion suffice or does it have to be a shea butter lotion? I was thinking of using an aloe lotion or cocoa butter lotion…

    1. I use a lotion that I like otherwise that doesn’t contain anything that would harm your skin when exposed to the sun.

  29. I hate the feeling of sun screen lotion when I go out in the heat. What does this stuff feel like in the heat?

  30. Thanks for this great post. I really want to make this but was wondering if this would be a water-resistant formula? If not, any suggestions to make it so? Thanks!

  31. I understand that this will spread in your skin without leaving a white film but I wanted to know if this will leave a greasy feeling in your skin.

  32. Love this! Thank you so much for posting. I am an avid coconut user on my skin and when cooking – so many health benefits. I have never used it as an SPF but will this year. I also think that the chemicals in our SPFs (and everything else the FDA permits us to ingest and apply topically) are the real culprits causing disease. The sun is good for us, but I’m sure like all things, in moderation.
    Thanks again 🙂

  33. May I make a suggestion? I’m going to make this as soon as the ingredients come in (I ordered them yesterday.), but I’m going to try a substitution that I think is worth mentioning. While I don’t know if it’ll work (But I see no reason for it not to.), I’m going to use aloe vera juice instead of water. Studies have shown that aloe vera is great protection for your skin, as well as an after burn soother. I just thought I would throw this out there.

  34. Love the idea but i like to swim at the beach. How water proof is this mix or would I need to reapply every time I got in and out of the water?

    1. I know that coconut oil is pretty waterproof, so my guess is that you will at least have about an S.P.F. of five after swimming. Coconut oil has about five S.P.F, shea butter has about four. That’s nine S.P.F. without the zinc, so depending on which S.P.F. you want, you don’t need as much zinc oxide.

      1. Lauren, SPF doesn’t work that way. You can’t add the SPFs together to get nine. The highest SPF of all the ingredients being used is the true SPF.

  35. Thank you for posting this!! Wondering what I could use instead of coconut oil. My son is highly allergic to coconut. Thank you again!!

  36. I’m planning to make my own sunscreen for our family this year. I was wondering how waterproof this formula is? I know we need to reapply frequently but I don’t want to have to do it every single time they get in and out of the water! Thanks!

    1. I don’t know about this one being “waterproof,” but no sunscreen is truly waterproof. You are supposed to reapply after getting wet or a lot of sweating. As far as I know, most companies are legally supposed to be changing their claims about waterproof, b/c people end up with one application and don’t “re-protect” themselves. I believe I read that somewhere through

  37. Love this idea…my only issue is that I’m HIGHLY allergic to Shea butter (right? Gah!!). Do I need to add that ingredient? Can I leave it out, or do you have an alternative you’d recommend? Thanks!!

  38. Stumbled on your site from Pinterest….love it! And this post is awesome :). Out of curiosity, how many cups of the zinc oxide are in that bag (like the one on Amazon — assuming you use the same stuff). Trying to figure out how much this will cost per oz. Thanks!

    1. I just stumbled on this from pinterest a few days ago and have already ordered (and made!) some sunscreen. The bag is pretty big. I made 20 SPF and think I could probably get about 10 batches total, but that is a total guess/estimation. I think I determined it cost me somewhere in the $8-$9 range, which really isn’t bad at all considering the junk you get in a store costs about that much for 6-8 oz. Plus, this stuff smells amazing.

  39. I love the idea of making my own so that I know what is in it. However, I am very, very white and my babies are even whiter than me! If I add enough zinc oxide to increase the spf to 50 (what I usually use), then will it still be spreadable? I assume 1/4 cup of zinc oxide equals 10 spf, according to your recipe. Thanks so much for posting this and for taking the time to answer my question!

    1. Shelly – the SPF 50 I have (with zinc oxide) turns your skin white-purple.. so I can only assume mine would have the same effect. I always encourage people to gradually expose to the sun when ever possible to use the least SPF as possible. Vitamin D from the sun is really healthy, as long as you don’t burn – burning is bad. I read somewhere before (but please don’t take it as gospel) that high SPFs aren’t better than lower SPFs… better to reapply often than to apply higher SPF once.. My hubby is blonde/fair skinned.. with our SPF supplements, healthy diet and my homemade SPF he’s never had a burn 🙂 but everyone is very different

      1. That would be correct. Better to go with a lower SPF and continually reapply. I’m a fair skinned redhead so your can imagine how easily I can burn. SPF 50 I’ve noticed doesn’t do any better than 20. Not to mention most people should realize if they are getting too much sun. If your skin feels tight or hot then reapply!

    1. There is a product link to the zinc I use from amazon at the bottom of the post 🙂 let me know if you need anything else!

  40. Does this rub in easily or does it leave that white film that I seem to get with all of the natural ones that I buy (and rub and rub and rub)?

    1. It rubs in very well.. I have some natural spfs that leave my skin looking white/purpleish – this doesn’t!

  41. “Personally, I’m not afraid of the sun and think that there are more health risks associated with not getting enough sun (and Vitamin D) then there are of getting too much sun!”
    – Don’t take that kind of attitude to the Southern Hemisphere where the lack of Ozone = sun burn that causes cancer. We have to use a minimum of SPF30 around here…

      1. Also make sure you are using a broad spectrum sunscreen (protects you from both UVA and UVB rays).
        Sun exposure is damaging to your body and you should always use broad spectrum sunscreen. Once you lose a friend to melanoma the damaging effects of the sun become a reality.

        1. Mel – be sure if you choose to wear a sunscreen there aren’t any cancer causing toxic chemicals in it.. many people don’t realize that the chemicals in sunscreen also cause cancer!

  42. Hello,
    I love this post! I have an 8 month old and we are heading to FL next week (from MI), I was really dreading having to put store-bought sunscreen on his skin. I use only organic coconut oil on him, and organic baby soaps. I am now excited to make my own sunscreen. I do have a question about the Shea Moisture product you mentioned… could I use the Shea Moisture Organic Raw Shea Butter Baby Eczema Therapy with Argan Oil & Extracts of Frankincense & Myrrh instead? Thanks!

    1. Megan – I’m not familiar with the ingredients in the Shea Moisture Organic Raw Shea Butter Baby Eczema Therapy but overall their products are great and think it’d be fine..

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