Non-Toxic Alternatives to Sunscreen

Non-Toxic Alternatives to Sunscreen

Now that summer is here, many people are using sunscreen-based creams or simply applying sunscreen to protect their skin. Sunscreen is an important protector against harmful UV rays. Unfortunately, few people actually look at what is in their sunscreen and research which ingredients are toxic.

Your skin is your largest organ – and for many of us it is one of our most treasured features. Unfortunately, it can be time consuming to read the label on every skincare product and research each ingredient. If a bottle says “Natural” or “Nontoxic”, many Americans believe the product is safe. Unfortunately, these terms mean very little when it comes to health and safety as they are not strictly regulated. In fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says it “has not engaged in rulemaking to establish a formal definition for the term ‘natural.’” There are also no specific standards listed for the “nontoxic” label.

Chemicals to avoid when buying skincare products

Because the overall labeling of a product as “Nontoxic” or “Natural” is so inaccurate, it’s important that you read every ingredient of skincare products you plan to use. Here is a cheat sheet of ingredients to avoid in any skincare product:

  • Benzophenone and its derivatives like benzophenone-2 (BP2), dioxybenzone, oxybenzone (BP3), or sulisobenzone
  • Butylated compounds like butylated hydroxyanisole(BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT)
  • Cinoxate
  • Ethanolamine compounds including diethanolamine, oleamide DEA, stearamide MEA, TEA-lauryl sulfate, and triethanolamine
  • Formaldehyde or formaldehyde-releasing preservatives such as quaternium-15, diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, and DMDM hydantoin
  • Fragrance
  • Heavy metals like aluminum, arsenic, lead, or mercury
  • Homosalate (also called 3,3,5-trimethyl-cyclohexyl-salicylate or HMS)
  • Menthyl anthranilate
  • Mineral Oil
  • Nitrosamines – called diethanolamine (DEA) or triethanolamine (TEA)
  • Octinoxate, also called Octyl methoxycinnamate, Octyl salicyclate, OMC, parsol, escalol, or  2-ethylhexyl p-methoxycinnamate
  • Octocrylene
  • PABA including OD-PABA, padimate O, 4-aminobenzoic acid, para-aminobenzoic acid, p-aminobenzoic acid, Et-PABA, 2-ethylhexyl ester, p-carboxyaniline
  • Parabens
  • Phenylbenzimidazole or ensulizole
  • Retinyl Palmitate
  • Vitamin A

That’s a lot of ingredients! Take a look at your skin products that include an SPF rating (and yes, that includes bottles of sunscreen). If they have any of the above ingredients in them, you may be putting dangerous chemicals on your skin.

Don’t worry, there are products that exist without these ingredients. You can also follow our directions below for a DIY sunscreen.

Ingredients in our DIY Natural Sunscreen

Before we give you a recipe for homemade all-natural sunscreen, we wanted to talk about why some of these ingredients are recommended.

  1. Cold pressed virgin olive oil

Olive oil is great all around. It tastes delicious, has wonderful moisturizing properties and has an SPF rating of 8. We recommend cold pressed virgin olive oil for use in homemade sunscreen as this is the specific type of oil that has been tested for an SPF rating.

Olive oil can not only protect your skin from the sun, it contains antioxidants that will help skin recover from environmental damage. So, if you some suffered skin damage from the sun, from burns or just from aging, olive oil may help you recover.

  1. Coconut oil

With so many fantastic uses, it’s no wonder that coconut oil also has an SPF rating of 8. Coconut oil will not only will it protect your skin from the sun, it penetrates and moisturizes through layers of your skin. Additionally, coconut oil smells great!

  1. Zinc Oxide

This product is considered one of the safest for broad-spectrum sunscreen. Zinc is an essential mineral that we use in our body and it’s the only active sunscreen ingredient that has been approved by the FDA for infants under six months old.

We all remember zinc as a white cream or white strip that lifeguards have used to protect their noses. This highlights the one downside to utilizing zinc oxide in a homemade sunscreen – it has a tendency to clump into a white mass. That’s why we have put together this natural, DIY sunscreen. The formula used has minimal clumping – offering greater all-around effectiveness.

DIY Sunscreen Formula

1/2 cup cold pressed virgin olive oil

1/4 cup coconut oil

1/4 cup beeswax

2 tablespoons zinc oxide

1 teaspoon vitamin E

2 tablespoons shea butter

6 drops  helichrysum essential oil

6 drops of lavender essential oil


Add everything except zinc oxide and helichrysum essential oil in a medium sized glass mixing bowl.

Fill a medium saucepan with a couple inches of water and place over medium heat. Place the glass bowl on top of the saucepan so that the saucepan is cradling the bowl.

As the ingredients start to melt, stir occasionally to mix.

Add the zinc oxide and helichrysum essential oil and mix well. This may take quite a bit of stirring.


We have many other great DIY formulas and recommendations for natural skincare here at Change for the Health of It. If you are looking for personal health advice, be sure to contact us today.



Body Butter

Author: Katie Wellness Mama Recipe
½ cup Shea Butter
½ cup Cocoa Butter or Mango Butter
½ cup Coconut Oil
½ cup light oil like almond, olive or jajoba
Optional: Essential Oils for scent¬ I like using 10¬-30 drops depending on the essential oils used. Peppermint and Citrus/Lavender and favorites at our house.
1. In a double boiler or glass bowl, combine all ingredients except essential oils.
2. Bring to medium heat and stir constantly until all ingredients are melted.
3. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
4. Move to fridge and let cool another 1 hour or until starting to harden but still somewhat soft.
5. Use a hand mixer to whip for 10 minutes until fluffy.
6. Return to fridge for 10-¬15 minutes to set.
7. Store in a glass jar with a lid and use as you would regular lotion or body butter.
If your home stays above 75 degrees, it may soften and need to be kept at the fridge, but it will stay whipped at a temperature lower than that.

Harmful Chemicals in Skincare & Sunscreen

Harmful chemicals to look for in skincare & Beauty products. Please note the most harmful toxic chemicals in skin care products today and check your labels:
• Butyl paraben
• Isopropyl alcohol
• DEA (Diethanolamine)
• MEA (monoethanolamine)
• TEA (triethanolamine)
• DMDM Hydantion
• Urea (Imidazolidinyl)
• FD&C Color Pigments
• Fragrances
• Methyl Paraben
• Mineral oil
• Paraben
• Phthalates
• Polyethylene Glycol (PEG)
• Butylene Glycol
• Sodium Laurel Sulfate
• Sodium Laureth Sulfate
• Triclosan (used in anti-bacterial products – VERY bad. Use grapefruit seed extract and essential oils instead)
• Othoxalation (this is a process, not an ingredient so it is not on the labels. It is used in cleansing products and very carcinogenic)
Source: Hoffman, Susan, herbalist. Skin Care Fact Sheet.

Harmful Chemicals in Sunscreen
• Retinyl Palmitate
• Para amino benzoic acid
• Octyl salicyclate
• Oxybenzone
• Cinoxate
• Dioxybenzone
• Phenylbenzimidazole
• Homosalate
• Menthyl anthranilate
• Octocrylene
• Methoxycinnamate
• Parabens
• Vitamin A – as it may speed up the development of skin cancer
Look for a mineral based sunscreen, zinc oxide or titanium oxide.

Natural Mint Toothpaste

¼ C Bentonite Clay
2 Tbs Coconut Oil
½ tsp Real salt
6 drops peppermint essential oil CPTG
3 drops Melaleuca essential oil CPTG
Add Water to right consistency that you like for toothpaste.
Melt Coconut oil in double broiler or hot water. Add all ingredients except essential oils and mix well.
When it reaches the consistency you like add oils. You can also add wintergreen or other flavors you like.

Orange Vanilla Lip Balm

3 Tbsp Bees wax
4 Tbsp coconut oil
7 drops wild orange essential oil
½ tsp vanilla
2 drops Vitamin E
1. In a small pot over medium low heat melt beeswax, coconut oil, and vitamin E. Use chopstick or other small, long stick to stir.
2. Remove from heat and add essential oils. Whisk well with chopstick and try to distribute oil throughout the mixture – this is tricky
3. Pour quickly into tins, tubes or jars. Let cool on counter till hard

Rosemary Mint Shampoo

6 oz Aloe Vera Gel
3 Tbsp Olive Oil
10 Tbsp Baking Soda
20 drops Rosemary Oil
10 drops Peppermint Oil
BPA free plastic dispenser bottles

1. Mix all ingredients together. Store in an 8oz glass or plastic bottle.

Coconut Oil Face Wash

1 cup coconut oil
1 Tbsp baking soda or Bentonite clay
5 drops lavender essential oil
5 drops frankincense essential oil
5 drops lemon essential oil
Glass Jar
(if acne prone, replace frankincense and lemon oils with 10 drops of tea tree essential oil)
1. Melt the coconut oil in a pan over low heat
2. Once melted, remove from heat and add in the remaining ingredients.
3. Store in wash dispenser or air tight jar and keep it in a cool place

Deodorant Recipe

2 TBS Cocoa Butter
2 TBS Coconut Oil
2 oz Baking Soda
1.5 oz Arrow Root
½ tsp of Vitamin E
10 Drops of Essential oils-my favorites are cypress, melaleuca, lavender
I have also added probiotics approx 2 capsules.

If you live in a warmer environment you can add 1 TBS of emulsifying wax or bees wax to make it harder.

Sunburn Relief Spray

1/2 cup water
1/3 cup Aloe Vera Gel
10 drops lavender essential oil
10 drops frankincense essential oil
5 drops peppermint essential oil
Blue Glass spray bottle
1. Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix together
2. Transfer to a spray bottle. Shake well before each us.

Natural Mineral Sunscreen

1/2 cup olive oil (take the 2 Tbs out of this amount)
1/4 cup Coconut Oil or fractionated coconut oil if a more lotion is desired.
1/4 cup beeswax
2 tablespoons zinc oxide
1 teaspoon vitamin E
2 tablespoons shea butter
6 drops Helichrysum essential oil
6 drops of lavender essential oil

Mix zinc and 2 Tbs of olive oil-make a paste and set aside until very end. Make sure you get the lumps out.
Add everything except zinc oxide paste, Helichrysum & Lavender essential oil in a medium sized glass mixing bowl.
– Fill a medium saucepan with a couple inches of water and place over medium heat. Place the glass bowl on top of the saucepan so that the saucepan is cradling the bowl.
As the ingredients start to melt, stir occasionally to mix.
TIP: Use a popsicle stick to help stir for an easier cleanup.
Add the zinc oxide paste, Lavender & Helichrysum essential oil and stir well to mix. Using the immersion blender works best
Note: Adding additional zinc oxide will increase the SPF factor. 1 TBS equals approx 10 SPF