When the summer heat starts getting the best of us, there’s nothing we love more than heading to the beach. Unfortunately, all that time in the sun has a downside: sun exposure can cause some very serious health issues. Sunscreen to the rescue! Just like any other over the counter personal care product, sunscreen often contains ingredients that can be hazardous to your health. That’s why we love making our own Shea butter sunscreen: it offers plenty of protection without any unnecessary ingredients.

Why is Sunscreen so Important?

Sitting in the sun feels great… until it damages your skin. Wearing sunscreen protects you from many of the effects of too much sun. Here are just a few ways it keeps your safe:

Sunscreen prevents sunburn: Everyone loves the sun, but no one likes looking like a lobster. Bright red and painful, sunburn happens when your skin is exposed to too much ultraviolet (UV) radiation. In order to defend itself, your body displays a number of responses to as little as 10 minutes of intense sun exposure. First, an inflammatory response lets you know that something is in need of repair (as well as turns your skin bright red). Next, your skin will start to lose moisture, leaving it feeling tight and uncomfortable. Finally, your skin will peel as your body gets rid of damaged cells. All in all, sunburn is a miserable experience, and one that you can protect yourself from.

Sunscreen reduces sun damaged skin: When you repeatedly expose your skin to the sun, the damage starts to take a toll. You’ll find your skin looking dry, wrinkled, discolored, and even leathery. No matter how thick sun damaged skin might look, it’s actually much weaker than healthy skin, making bruising more common. Sun screen helps protect you from this type of damage.

Sunscreen protects you from skin cancer: Did you know that skin cancer is now the most common type of cancer? Skin cancer is caused by mutations in the DNA in our skin cells. These mutations are often caused by exposure to UV radiation. Sunscreen acts as a barrier between your DNA and the effects of UV radiation, keeping your skin cells happy and healthy.

How Does Sunscreen Work?

Sunscreen is such a useful skincare product because it acts as a barrier between our skin and UV radiation. When you pick up a bottle of sunscreen, you’ll notice that it has the letters SPF followed by a number on it. SPF stands for sun protection factor, and is a great way to tell how effective a particular formulation is.

There are two different methods a sunscreen can use to offer sun protection: chemical screening and mineral screening. Chemical sunscreens use ingredients that filter out UV radiation. The downside is that they can be absorbed into the skin, where they may disrupt the hormone system. Mineral sunscreens, on the other hand, use zinc oxide or titanium dioxide to block UV rays from reaching the skin. Rather than being absorbed into the body, these sunscreens sit on top of the skin, making them a safer choice.

For much more information about what goes into your sunscreen, check out this great report from EWG.org. We talk a little bit about the advantages of mineral sunscreen on our blog: read more about it here.

Make Your Own Sunscreen with Shea Butter

We love to make our own sunscreen as an alternative to over the counter products. Here’s our favorite recipe: Shea Butter nourishes, soothes, and moisturizes your skin while it’s exposed to the sun, as well as zinc oxide powder. Better Shea Butter’s zinc oxide powder is non-nano, which means it’s small enough to be transparent on your skin, but not so small to absorb into your body.


2oz Unrefined Shea Butter

1oz each of Jojoba Oil, Coconut Oil, and  Zinc Oxide Powder

How to

First of all, take some steps to protect yourself from inhaling the zinc oxide powder. It’s very fine, so consider wearing a mask or kerchief around your nose and mouth to keep from breathing it in. Plastic gloves are also a great way to keep the powder from sticking to your fingers.


Melt the Shea Butter and the coconut oil over low heat. Once melted, remove from the heat and mix in the jojoba oil. Stir in the zinc oxide powder slowly, making sure it is entirely dissolved before adding more. Use a hand mixer to blend everything evenly, then set your sunscreen aside to cool off for a few hours.

Homemade Sunscreen Notes

When you make this sunscreen according to the instructions, your end product will offer an SPF of 20. If you want to make a bigger amount, make sure the ratio of lotion to zinc oxide powder is four to one.  Be careful about leaving this lotion out in the sun. It can get a little melty at high temperatures. If this happens to you, put it in a cooler or a refrigerator for a little while and it will firm right up.

Enjoy Your Fun in the Sun…

…but be sure to use common sense. Try to limit your exposure to direct sunlight between 10am and 3pm, and reapply your sunscreen regularly. By thinking ahead, you can enjoy the sun’s rays without having to sacrifice your skin’s health.