DIY Sunscreen with 20% Zinc Oxide, 99.95% Natural

Update: Check out by new Rose Sunscreen formula. It’s stunning!

So I’ve taken a break from PhD writing to tell you all about my latest DIY skincare recipe – sunscreen!

Sunscreen is so important in your skincare regime. There’s a reason that the skin on your butt is way better than the skin on your face: it’s never been exposed to the sun. If I had to choose just one item to keep from my new and improved skincare regime, it would be sunscreen. It’s an absolute essential all year ’round.

I’ve been using my Marie Veronique Organics Face Screen which is a good quality, physical (not chemical! Don’t use chemical!) sunscreen.  However, I’ve decided to try my hand at making my own, and I’m really pleased with the results. Infact, this is my absolute favourite sunscreen ever!

This sunscreen recipe is from the Skin Essential Actives website.  It has 20% Zinc Oxide, which provides excellent sun protection, is invisible on the skin, and works more effectively than Titanium Oxide.  Moreover, this recipe contains antioxidants which boost the sun protection of the Zinc Oxide, and the formula is nourishing to the skin. I also find this formula easy to re-apply during the day (every two hours) as it doesn’t get cakey or white.

Best of all, I love the finish this sunscreen gives to my skin. It does work very well with makeup, but since I started making this sunscreen I’ve just been wearing sunscreen, concealer, cream blush, and my usual eye makeup. My skin looks utterly amazing with this combination, and I’m thrilled that it gives me sun protection too! It takes a good cleanser to remove it, but I love the way my skin feels after being cocooned in this sunscreen all day.

Anyway, onto the recipe. I purchased all of my ingredients from Skin Essential Actives, apart from the oil which I purchased from Garden of Wisdom. The instructions are my interpretation of the instructions on the SEA website.

You will need:

Oil 27 grams (I’ve used both Apricot Kernel Oil and Soy Oil for this recipe with good results, but any light oil would work equally well. In this version I use Soy Oil)
Sea Emollient 30 grams
Distilled H2O 18 grams
Vitamin E Acetate Powder 1 gram
Glycerin 3 grams
Lecithin Powder 9 grams
Polysorbate 80 0.5 grams
Grape Seed Extract 0.5 grams
Zinc Oxide (coated) 22.5 grams

You will also need a mini blender. I bought this one from Kmart recently for $19, but I’m sure there are others that would work well too.

So, before you start, measure out all your ingredients:

1.a. Firstly, combine the Oil and Lecithin.

To do this, place the Oil in a shot glass then stand in a pan of warm water.

Add Lecithin and stir.

Then add Polysorbate 80 and blend in a blender.

1.b. Slowly incorporate the Zinc Oxide into the emulsion. Blend each time you place some Zinc Oxide into the blender.  Scrape down sides intermittently.

Place mixture into a pot.

Clean blender.

2. Now combine the Sea Emollient  and Glycerin. Blend thoroughly.

Place into a pot. Clean blender.

3. Finally, combine the Vitamin E Acetate and water, then blend until dissolved.

4. Add Grape Seed Extract to the Vitamin E Acetate water already in the blender.

Then add the Sea Emollient and Glycerin mix (number 2).

Mix beyond well for around 2-3 minutes.  Make sure to incorporate everything from the side of the blender.

5. Put the Zinc Oxide mix into the blender bit by bit, pausing to hand mix and scrape down the sides intermittently. This will be very thick and creamy . Continue mixing and scrape the edges down to incorporate all.

6. Scrape down the edges of the blender thoroughly as a great deal of Zinc Oxide will be hanging on the sides. Continue to blend for about 10 minutes.

7. You should have a creamy off white sunscreen at this point.

8. You may add a preservative, however it is not really necessary as Sea Emollient already contains 0.3% Phenoxyethanol. Zinc Oxide is also anti-fungal and anti-microbial in nature.

9. Essential oils may also be incorporated at the end, but I usually skip this step. Do not use photo-sensitising essential oils such as bergamot or several members of the citrus family.

10. Pour the sunscreen into a sterilized bottle or pot.

I love this formula. It disappears into the skin, and is especially wonderful if you like a nourishing sunscreen. Goes on like a dream, doesn’t clog, works with makeup really well, and makes my skin look super healthy.  Below are some pictures I took this afternoon of the sunscreen applied to my face. I’m not wearing any makeup:

It gives a subtle radiance to my skin that I absolutely adore. I hope you try it!


Here are two photos of me with the sunscreen applied to my whole face. Even though they’re a little blurred, I chose these because I think they best show the ‘glow’ that the sunscreen imparts to my face.

The only makeup I have on is Edward Bess Compact Rouge in ‘Love Affair’ on lips and cheeks, By Terry concealer under the eyes, Rouge Bunny Rouge Black Pepperjay eyeshadow and Covergirl Lashblast mascara.

I’m not wearing any base:

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78 Responses to DIY Sunscreen with 20% Zinc Oxide, 99.95% Natural

  1. Leah says:

    Oh wow I would love to try that!
    I don’t have any of those ingrediants or anything haha!
    Thanks for all the pictures (:
    x Leahs Land

  2. Dempeaux says:

    @Leah Perhaps one day… :)

  3. Michelle says:

    Goodness gracious, this is incredible! I still haven’t gotten around to my ‘Tetra’ C serum….

  4. Jen W says:

    This is freakin AWESOME. Thanks for going into so much detail Sarah, I’ll be trying this in a few weeks I think. I wonder why the recipe calls for vitamin E acetate rather than just using vitamin E oil? And is the Lecithan used because it is a more ‘natural’ alternative to polysorbate 80?

  5. Awesome post. The photos are amazing. Once you’re PhD is done and dusted I think that it is time you become a cosmetic chemist! I’d love to buy your creations one day! I don’t see myself getting into DIY in the near future as it would be a bit of a nightmare with my son trying to ‘help’ but I am loving following all of your recipes and adventures!

  6. Dempeaux says:

    @Jen W Thankyou! I’m not sure why, but for some reasons if you use Vit E Acetate Oil instead of powder the formula goes a but funny. Also, the Poly 80 is to stabilise, and yes, I believe the Lecithin is a more natural way to bind the oil and water together. Can’t wait to see you try it Jen! :)

  7. Dempeaux says:

    @Michelle Thankyou! I hope you are able to try it soon. I know it’s hard to find the time, but your skin will thank you :)

  8. Dempeaux says:

    @Sarah K Thankyou! Yes, I was thinking of you and the ‘tiny hands’ at your place when I was making the sunscreen today! A shame you can’t jump on the DIY bandwagon for a while. I am but a novice in the face of your Science greatness Sarah, I bow to your superior knowledge always :) I don’t think I’ll end up selling anything, but I’m happy to share the love :D

  9. ki. says:

    Oh brilliant! This was SO worth the wait! :-) I must try this, especially since I have NEVER found a great sunscreen.

    I have a few questions – are these ingredients themselves expensive? Also, how long do you think tis sunscreen will last without going bad? And is it moisturising enough to use sans moisturiser?

    My husband is smirking at the idea of a home made sunscreen, but I’m sure the results will convince him, right? :-P

  10. ki. says:

    Also, to second Sarah K, I would so buy your skincare!!!

  11. oooh! Maybe we can do trades of some sort then! I’d love to try your creations!!

    I have a hell of a time keeping Isaac out of all of the ‘reagents’ in the kitchen and bathroom…plus he’s also got a fascination with the liquor cabinet, so I can only imagine what he’d be like if I had a stash of ‘mummy’s special chemicals’. He’d sense that it was out of bounds and would make a beeline for it!! The only chace I’d get to make anything was when he was asleep and unfortunately that then means nothing too noisy…so no blender. Oh well…he’ll be starting school in 2015!!

  12. Dempeaux says:

    @ki Oh I hope you do try it! It’s hard to estimate the cost, but to buy a pot or bottle of each ingredient would be:

    Oil: Hemp Oil (for example) from SEA is $2.45 for 30 grams
    Sea Emollient: $2.35 for 30 grams
    Distilled H2O: So cheap – about four litres for two dollars around here. Still on my first bottle.
    Vitamin E Acetate Powder: $4.95 for 30 grams
    Glycerin: Bought a HUGE tub locally for a few dollars. Will last me forever.
    Lecithin Powder: 9 grams $2.10 for 40 grams
    Poly 80: $1 for 30 grams
    Grape Seed Extract: $4.35 for 30 grams
    Zinc Oxide 22.5 grams $4.75 for 30 grams

    From this you will have LOTS left over though :) I use this sunscreen with a moisturiser, but I have dry skin. You could definitely try it without! The results will be great! :)

  13. Dempeaux says:

    @ki Thankyou ki :)

  14. ki. says:

    That’s not bad at all! It’s decided then – this shall be my september DIY! Plus I’m waiting to try out the serum as well :-)

    Do you have any websites/forums that you get your DIY ideas from? I would love to learn a bit more!

  15. Really facinating post! Not sure I’d ever get round to doing something like that – like the idea though – Do you have any idea how it compares SPF etc wise?

    I have the exact sme blender – great for smoothy making – again if I ever got round to it.

    Thanks for the post. x

  16. Dempeaux says:

    @Sarah K I can just imagine! Tiny hads and chemicals do not mix! We’ll have to organise a swap when I’ve got a bit more time. DIY ahoy! :)

  17. Meeta says:

    Thanks for this detailed post, especially useful to see how the cream looks at the different stages.
    I have recently made a Tetra serum and the SKB hair goop and even though it’s a little early to tell I am pleased so far with how it’s going.

  18. Dempeaux says:

    @Ki I’d check out the SEA website for recipes and SkinCareTalk for chat and recipes combined :) Great that you’re trying DIY Ki! :)

  19. Dempeaux says:

    @SparklzandShine Given the amount of Zinc Oxide, I would say this would be SPF 30. The Zinc Oxide is so fabulous for sun protection, and it’s present in a decent quantity! I hope you try it out one day, especially if you already have the blender! ;)

  20. Dempeaux says:

    @Meeta It makes me so happy to hear that Meeta! Keep me posted on how you go. I love both of those recipes :) Also check out Jen’s excellent variation on the Tetra serum Brilliant!

  21. ki. says:

    Thank you! :-)

    I have just one last question – how do you choose the oil that you use for the sunscreen and serums? Is it according to skin type? Because with my super sensitive skin, I want to use something that isn’t too heavy!

  22. Dempeaux says:

    @ki That’s a great question! Thess articles are a good start and . If you want to look in to any of the oils in more detail, that blog is also excellent. It’s run by one of the girls at SCT. Some of it is just trial and error though. Last time I did a Garden of Wisdom order, I filled my basket with things that sounded interesting :) Even for dry skin I would recommend light oils for this sunscreen – I think it would become too heavy otherwise :)

  23. ki. says:

    Thank you SO much Sarah :) I feel like I’m all set now! :)

  24. Dempeaux says:

    @Ki No problem! :)

  25. Dain says:

    I love your DIY posts. I haven’t crossed into anything other than single ingredients from the kitchen, but I may have to copy one of your vitamin C serums.

  26. WOW. You showed us each step of the process perfectly. I really admire the work that went into this post, because it makes me think about the ingredients that go into your average sunscreen, and I am starting to become more concerned about the chemicals in the process that then go on my skin. I loved the tone of the final product you ended up with and I liked your report of how it blended with your cosmetics. Right that’s it. I need to get making.

  27. Jan says:

    This is such a detailed and helpful post, thankyou so much for your efforts, visual and written. Jan x

  28. Dempeaux says:

    @Dain That sounds great Dain! It’s so easy, and a great way to get potent, fresh products onto your skin :)

  29. Dempeaux says:

    @StyleOnTheCouch Thankyou! Yes, the photos were many, but I thought it might help to show the change in colour/ texture throughout the making of the sunscreen. I’m so glad you’re going to start creating! Yay! :D

  30. Dempeaux says:

    @Jan Thankyou Jan. Yes, this post took a while to do, but worth it in the end. Makes it easier for others, I hope! :)

  31. NeenaJ says:

    This is really inspiring! I’ve already made your Tetra C Serum along with a 15% C, 1% E and 0.5% Ferulic Acid Serum. Hmmm, could sunscreen be next?

  32. Kathrine says:

    You and your skin are amazing (and clever). Just reading this made me tired but the results speak for themselves! Please may you start making and selling this and then I can buy it and have skin like yours.

    Thanks :)

  33. Dempeaux says:

    @NeenaJ That makes me so happy! I must write up the CE Ferulic recipe at some point too, and show how I make my ‘easy rinse’ cleaner. If you can make that CE Ferulic recipe, you’ll have absolutely no problems making this sunscreen. Just measure out all your ingredients accurately at the beginning, and if in doubt, blend! ;) Good luck with your DIY journey – I’ll try to post more bits and pieces where I can :)

  34. Dempeaux says:

    @Katherine Thankyou! If you’ve seen my ‘before’ photos you’ll see that my skin was a bit of a mess before I started all this DIY stuff. I’m so pleased with the results! I don’t think I’ll start selling any time soon, but I’m very happy to show everyone how to go about it :)

  35. Alex says:

    This is a great post! I just bought the Invisible Zinc sunscreen (which I have worn everyday since I bought it, go me!) and I like it at the moment but I certainly prefer the idea of making my own!

    Just wondering though, do you need to apply it every 2 hours or would it last all day on its own? I remember reading somewhere that physical sunscreen lasts longer than chemical, which you should apparently re-apply every two hours.

  36. Dempeaux says:

    @Alex Thankyou! It’s so great that you’re wearing sunscreen every day. Yay! I’d certainly suggest making your own sunscreen. It is very convenient just picking it up from a shop, but this one is so much nicer than anything I’ve tried :) Sadly, chemical sunscreen degrade so quickly they only last about an hour or so, but yes, physical sunscreens are meant to last longer. I know that physical sunscreens degrade faster in light, so the general rule is to reapply more often when outside, and less often when inside. However, if I’m wearing sunscreen and I’m sitting at my desk, chances are it will run off as I lean on my hand, scratch my face etc, so reapplication under any circumstances is good. What all of this rambling really means is that experts advise that you reapply every two hours, and whether I’m imside or outside, that’s what I do too ;) Of course, for us makeup-wearing girls that poses a bit of a problem. What I’ve been doing of late is just wearing concealer and cream blush, so when the two hour mark comes around I just reapply over the top and reapply my concealer and blush. Doesn’t take too long that way, and eye makeup stays intact (though I put a little on the area under the brows, and the rest is covered by sunglasses) :)

  37. xx says:

    I’m interested in making this! but how do we know this sunscreen is effective? have you tested it out?

  38. fawnie says:

    Thx so much Dempeaux! This is EGGZACKLY what I needed! Very clear instructions and pictures at each step. Appreciate your doing this for us! <333

  39. Dempeaux says:

    @xx Go for it! I have been using it every day for some time now and love it. I’ve actually become paler since I’ve been using it. For an idea of its effectiveness, consider this: Renee Rouleau SPF 30+ sunscreen contains 7% Zinc Oxide, and this DIY sunscreen contains 20%. Big difference in terms of actually blocking out the suns rays. Not to mention the fact that the Renee Rouleau retails for $30.50 for 2oz! :)

  40. Dempeaux says:

    @Fawnie No problem! Glad it helps! Love this sunscreen :)

  41. xx says:

    @Dempeaux did you mean you’ve got paler with this sunscreen on, despite still being in the sun?

  42. Dempeaux says:

    @xx Yes, I think so. I think I can notice a difference. Obviously I spend quite a lot of time analysing my skin ;)

  43. Chloeblue2005 says:

    Sorry for my late comments S – as I read your post when you sent the link out on Twitter. If I have said it once I think I have said it about a million times now… this is just incredible. The finish it gives plus working out how to actually make your own sunscreen… you seriously are my DIY hero :)

  44. Dempeaux says:

    @Chloeblue2005 Haha! Awww, I seriously can’t take credit for this lovely recipe, and besides, it’s so easy to make! You should try it! :)

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  46. miss chew says:

    Going to email the recipe to my friend now! How exciting!

  47. Dempeaux says:

    @MissChew That’s great! Good luck! :D

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  50. Lisa says:

    This is great, thanks for sharing. I’d like to try this recipe sometime. What’s the self life of the sunscreen and how do you store it? Does it need refrigeration?

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