natural sunscreens (& why you NEED to switch)


UPDATE 3/20/2019 – This 6 year old post is getting a ton of traffic lately, so it’s important I disclose that I DO NOT RECOMMEND trying to DIY your own sunscreen! To test and see if your sunscreen is even working would require a 20 person panel and at least $5,000.

If you want a clean body sunscreen, Badger Balm has really great ones. For the face, Josh Rosebrook Nutrient Day Cream is really nice.

Find me on ig @alexraye_ae if you have any questions!

most commercial sunscreens give me the willies. i wouldn’t touch them with a 10 foot pole! but we’ll save that for the end…

with summer pretty much here to stay (where i live at least haha) i’m gonna share with you how i’ll help protect my skin from the sun. i’ve also posted about sunless tanners if you haven’t checked that out yet.

first, what’s the deal with sunscreen?

in today’s society, we are so scared of getting skin cancer. we’re told to slather ourselves with sunscreen and to almost “hide” from the sun. skin cancer is the most common cancer in the U.S., with 3.5 million skin cancers in over two million people diagnosed annually, with ONE IN FIVE americans developing it in their lifetime. astonishing! just this year alone (2013), an estimated 3,170 deaths from nonmelanoma skin cancers will occur. and to top it off, about 90 percent of nonmelanoma skin cancers are associated with exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun.

so to answer if we need sunscreen, we have to first understand if these suggestions to curb our sun exposure are of sound advice. to do that, we have to understand what the sun naturally does to the human body – increases the production of melatonin, serotonin, and gives us vitamin d. if you want to learn more about the positive effects of the sun, please check this gal out. my views on sun exposure align perfectly with hers, and i can’t express how pleased i am that she backs everything she says up with published research. i value that so highly, especially since i hold a Master of Science degree. everything i do to and for my body is well-researched, as it should be for you!

my personal opinion is that responsible sun exposure, combined with a healthy lifestyle and eating habits, is ESSENTIAL to every human. i am NOT saying “hey, go get a sunburn! it’s okay!”… because it’s not. but responsible exposure is an important part of keeping your body healthy. supplements don’t replace actual sunshine.

that being said, it is extremely important to protect your skin from overexposure and sunburns (aka, YES, you need suncreen!!!) so how do we do that SAFELY? here ya go:


homemade options (different recipes below ingredients):

  • red raspberry seed oil – SPF between 30 and 50 (seriously!)
  • carrot seed oil – SPF 30
  • wheat germ oil – SPF 20
  • hazelnut oil – SPF 15
  • coconut oil – SPF 10
  • soybean oil – SPF 10
  • shea butter – SPF 6-10
  • macadamia oil – SPF 6
  • jojoba oil – SPF 4
  • rice bran oil – SPF 4
  • sesame oil, hemp oil, avocado oil, peanut oil – SPF between 4 and 10
  • vitamin E – helps protect against UV damage
  • zinc oxide (natural mineral… powder form) – reflects sun (add for a long lasting sunscreen)
  • titanium dioxide (powder) – reflects sun (if the zinc oxide needs a boost, add for a long lasting sunscreen)


mix any of the above ingredients to make your own, depending on your SPF needs.
essential oils can also be added! if you want to know how much of each powder to add, check this chart out. there are TONS of other recipes out there. TONS! here are my top 3: one, twothree. some use beeswax, but the easiest and just as effective will be the consistency of a tanning oil (and more creamier if you add zinc oxide or titanium dioxide).

WHERE TO BUY INGREDIENTS: in your local health food store 🙂 or try here.

don’t want to mix your own?? then try these – 

commercial options (safe, researched ingredients):

NOW, if you follow my blog, you know how i feel about chemicals and being more natural. so back to how i won’t touch typical store-bought suncreens with a 10 foot pole…

almost 60% of store-bought sunscreens contain chemicals that disrupt hormones and that can cause cancer. CAUSE cancer. not prevent it.

what do typical sunscreens contain?

  • retinyl palmitate – linked to skin cancer
  • oxybenzone – hormone disruption; potential cell damage that may lead to cancer
  • ANY nanoparticles – get into the bloodstream and liver (advertised as going on “colorless”)

check these popular ones out and their toxicity ratings:

Screen Shot 2013-04-16 at 10.22.45 PM

  • banana boat (baby & kids) – 7
  • hawaiian tropic (protective dry oil, sensitive skin, and shimmer versions) – 7
  • hawaiian tropic silk hydration lotion – 4
  • coppertone oil free – 3
  • coppertone (sport, ultraguard, and spray versions) – 4 to 7
  • coppertone kids – 7
  • aveeno (active naturals & baby versions) – 3

so now that you’ve decided to kick your sunscreen to the curb for a more natural version, how do you know what’s the best? check on EWG, and make sure you’re not playing the “NUMBERS GAME.” what’s that, you ask? check out this article from CNN.

“The EWG said consumers should not purchase sunscreens with SPF greater than 50. SPF (sun protection factor) works by absorbing, reflecting or scattering the sun’s rays on the skin. “It is very misleading to put high SPF numbers on labels because it gives consumers a false sense of security and doesn’t offer a lot more protection,” Leiba said. They are right. While SPF 85 may sound like a lot more protection than SPF 30, the higher the number doesn’t always give a high return. Studies show that sunscreen with SPF 15 can block about 93% of all incoming UVB rays. SPF 30 blocks 97%. SPF 50 blocks 98%. “The protective factors plateau from there. A product with SPF 100+ blocks about 99.1 percent of the UVB rays,” Ostad said. “You don’t really need a high number. They end up being expensive and don’t offer more protection than SPF 50.” Keep in mind, SPF protects only against UVB rays.”

as always, do your research. make an educated decision. be healthy. stay healthy. take care of your body 🙂


(i am not making any statements to hurt those affected by skin cancers. i believe Mommypotamus said it best: “i realize that some people who read this have experienced the pain and difficulty of skin cancer, either personally or with a loved one. i would never dare to invalidate these experiences or to treat them lightly. it is my hope that by providing this research, i will make a compelling case for re-examining our cultural attitudes about sunlight. i am not a doctor and i do not advocate sunburns at all, but it is my opinion that responsible sunlight exposure positively affects our health when a good diet with plenty of healthy fats/antioxidants are present. my writing reflects a commitment to that lifestyle.” all i ask here at AlmostExactly is there be intelligible, data-based discussion and that everyone is kind.)

59 thoughts on “natural sunscreens (& why you NEED to switch)

  1. Do you think I could use a mix of red raspberry seed oil, carrot seed oil, and coconut oil on my baby for the beach? Because you’re not supposed to use sunscreen on babies under 6 months, but my baby will be 5 months old and I still need to protect him from the sun somehow at the beach.

  2. Hi, so I’ve found a recipe for “mint choc chip” body butter using just coconut oil, shea butter and peppermint eo. Would using this body butter be as good as using a sunscreen since both oils are listed in your homemade options and if so, what spf would they be and would it be against both uva and uvb rays? Thanks. 🙂

    1. Oh meant to add that the recipe requires the oils to be whipped so that they aren’t as hard in their solid state like normal… Can’t see this making much of a difference but thought I should add it in in case anyone’s wondering how you could mix them together to make body butter… 🙂

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