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homemade sunscreen with non nano zinc oxide powder recipe

Homemade Sunscreen with Non Nano Zinc Oxide

Summer is right around the corner! Today I want to share my go-to sunscreen recipe with non nano zinc oxide powder. This formula also contains natural moisturizing butters, carrier oils, and waxes. It is a great option that is safe for all skin types and all ages.

Also included in this recipe is the option to use mica or iron oxide pigments to create a tinted homemade sunscreen. You can customize this tint to help avoid a white cast from the zinc oxide lotion. Iron oxides have also been found to be protective against sunlight and blue light so they add some extra protection for your skin. 

NOTE: While I don’t know and cannot guarantee the exact SPF of this formulation without lab testing each batch made, I believe it to be around 20. If you would like to add more or less zinc powder to this formulation that is definitely possible. There are zinc oxide SPF approximation charts available online as well if you’d like to aim for a greater or lesser amount of coverage. 

Benefits of Zinc Oxide Sunscreen:

Sun protection has become a huge part of a good beauty routine in the last 30-40 years. While tanning used to be all the rage, there has been a downtrend in tanning as a beauty practice, either by naturally developing a tan outside by sun exposure, or at a tanning salon. This is because of potential dangers of too much sun exposure to the skin. In addition to the dangerous side effects that excess UV exposure can have on your health it can also contribute to rapid skin aging, wrinkles, dark spots, and more. 

While some sun exposure is good and necessary for health, especially to maintain healthy Vitamin D levels, overexposure during the hottest parts of the day or during high UV days isn’t a great idea. Sun protection creams are just another tool to help with healthy sun exposure, along with hats, clothing, umbrellas and sunglasses.

homemade sunscreen with non nano zinc oxide application

Over time, some of the active chemicals that have historically been used in conventional sunscreens have been found to be harmful, both to humans and to wildlife. These have started to be phased out of more modern sunscreens, creating formulas that are considered more “reef-safe”, but even then, sometimes the chemical absorption of harmful sun rays just isn’t the best method for certain skin types. 

Non-nano zinc oxide powder is a safe option. This is considered to be a more gentle method of sun protection overall that works by creating a physical barrier which blocks UV rays from making contact with your skin. This is why mineral sunscreen is widely considered to be the best type of sunscreen that is safe for those with sensitive skin, including children and babies.

Why Choose Non-Nano Zinc Oxide?

Non-nano zinc means that the particle size of zinc is larger than 100 nanometers. This makes the zinc oxide particles broad spectrum, which means that when used as a sunscreen it will protect against both types of UV rays that can be harmful, UVA and UVB.  Non-nano zinc particles are also not readily absorbed or filtered by coral reefs and marine life. This means that the harmful bleaching effect and damage to the food chain is avoided by choosing non-nano.

non nano zinc oxide powder

While in the past it was believed that nano zinc could enter deeper layers of skin or even the bloodstream, this has been shown to not be the case. However, its level of protection is not as good as non-nano, because the decreased particle size also causes a decrease in UVA protection.

Finally, many people find that sunscreens that create a physical means of protection, such as non-nano zinc, are much more gentle to the skin. Over time this can help the skin barrier stay healthy because you are avoiding potential low grade skin irritation that may come with using chemical-based sunscreen. This is another good reason to choose a natural sunscreen recipe which avoids the use of these potentially irritating substances in favor of nutrient-rich and gentle natural ingredients. DIY sunscreen with zinc oxide is also very easy to make and can be tailored to your skincare needs.

Safe Sunscreen Ingredients

Shea Butter

Shea butter is a great option for a sunscreen base. It is a natural butter loaded with vitamins, antioxidants and nutrients that are great for all skin types. It has also been shown to have sun protective qualities of its own. Tests have shown it can have around 4-6 SPF and contains the same antioxidants that are found in green tea, called polyphenols. Shea butter also helps prevent moisture loss in skin and helps skin stay more moisturized over time by providing nutrients that allow it to repair itself more quickly.

raw shea butter

Jojoba Oil or Other Carrier Oil

Jojoba oil, along with other carrier oils such as almond or apricot, has a lot of antioxidant benefits. Antioxidants applied to skin help scavenge some of the free radicals created by UV rays on the skin. These oils specifically are also non comedogenic. Jojoba in particular actually helps regulate oil production on skin, which can be useful during a hot and humid summer. 

I have heard a lot about the effects of raspberry seed and carrot seed oils, which many sources have mentioned have high enough SPF numbers to use as sunscreens on their own. However, studies show that this is not broad-spectrum protection or protection against both UVA and UVB rays, so unfortunately it may not work as a main sun protective component of a formula. They are still very good nutrient-rich natural carrier oils with a lot of antioxidants, though. Adding them into your formula would definitely help boost the sun blocking abilities. 

Why not coconut oil? This beloved tropical oil, while very beneficial and moisturizing, can also be extremely comedogenic, meaning it can clog pores.  The effect of this can be increased by summertime temperatures and humidity, along with increased sweating so is usually not a preferred oil especially by those with oily or acne prone skin.


This natural wax is a great addition to this recipe for adding staying power to your natural sun cream recipe. While it’s important to reapply sunscreen every 90 minutes to 2 hours, beeswax helps natural sunscreen stay on your skin longer by adding a little bit more protection against water and sweat. It also contains high antioxidant levels and is an anti-inflammatory substance that helps calm any skin irritation or environmental damage that can happen.

beeswax for sunscreen

Essential Oils 

Some essential oils that can be beneficial to add to a sun cream formulation are lavender, frankincense, helichrysum, and chamomile. 

It is best to avoid oils in the citrus family for this type of formula as they can cause sun reactions, or phototoxicity, unless they are steam distilled. 

How to Add Tint to DIY Sunscreen

Studies have shown that iron oxide pigments can help increase the coverage of sunscreens against UV rays and visible light. If you don’t prefer the natural light color of the homemade zinc oxide sunscreen, you can add some natural pigment to this recipe. This can be as simple as adding some of your favorite bronzer powder, but if you really want to customize your own skin tone, you can add a combination of brown, red and yellow iron oxide pigments. Olive tones may want to add a touch of blue or green mica to this as well. 

Sunscreen With Non-Nano Zinc Oxide Recipe:



  1. Melt your shea butter and beeswax in a double boiler on low heat
  2. Remove from boiler once melted and completely liquid
  3. Set aside for about one minute for the butter and wax to cool slightly
  4. Add your carrier oil, stirring thoroughly
  5. Add your optional essential oils
  6. Add your zinc oxide powder along with any optional tint or pigment powder, whisking in thoroughly to avoid any lumps
  7. Let cool in the fridge or freezer until 50% solid, then whip – you may also let cool til 100% solid for a balm texture
non nano zinc oxide sunscreen recipe diy sunscreen

I hope you enjoy this homemade sunblock with zinc oxide recipe and it helps you stay safe in the sun! As always, if you have any questions or feedback please comment below.

Author: Natalie, DIY Skincare Enthusiast