DIY Bug Repellent Sunscreen
It’s been a really wet summer so far here in the Northeast. We also had a *very* mild winter. As a result, the mosquitoes and biting flies are much worse than normal. Not only is sunscreen needed for long days in the sun but bug repellent is a must if you don’t want to be covered in bites.
What’s wrong with bug spray and sunscreen?
Conventional bug sprays and sunscreens are full of nasty chemicals that you do not want absorbed into your skin or applied to your children.
Deet is an ingredient found in many bug repellents. Deet is a pesticide! Studies have shown that deet use causes brain cell death and is especially dangerous for small children. It is linked to seizures and other pesticide-exposure related symptoms such as shortness of breath, tremors, muscle and joint pain, headaches, fatigue and memory loss. I refuse to use any product with this toxic ingredient in it. Period.
Most sunscreen is a toxic soup of unpronounceable ingredients. Any ingredient with -benzone in the word should be avoided. Examples are avobenzone and oxybenzone.
Fragrance is added to sunscreen to give it that “beachy”, pleasant scent but all chemical derived fragrances are petroleum based. These chemicals contribute to a slew of health issues including neurological damage, respiratory issues like asthma, allergies, and eczema.
Spray sunscreens are even more toxic because they contain additional chemicals to make them liquid and easily dispensed. The particles emitted from the nozzle get into your eyes, mouth, nose, and lungs causing major irritation to your body.
Vitamin A in the form of retinyl palmitate is often added to sunscreen and is linked to tumors and cancer. It also makes the skin photosensitive which means it attracts the light. Seems a bit counterintuitive, doesn’t it?
These facts are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to why conventional bug spray and sunscreen should not be used. I encourage you to do your own research to make an informed decision about what bug sprays and sunscreens are best for you.
What’s the alternative?
My favorite alternative is to make my own, good-for-the-skin bug repellent sunscreen! It is very simple to do and very effective.
In this recipe, I tweaked some of my favorite sunscreen recipes from Keeper of the Home, Mommypotamos, Frugally Sustainable, and Homemade Mommy to fit my family’s lifestyle and added TerraShield from doTERRA essential oils as the bug repellant element. TerraShield is a blend of essential oils in a base of fractionated coconut oil that really works overtime to keep bugs from biting. It is inexpensive which is great because buying 15 bottles of essential oils to make a bug repelling blend yourself can get very pricey! I buy all my essential oils here.
Here are some photos of the process, including the mess at the end!
DIY Bug Repellent Sunscreen
To make your own bug repellent sunscreen you’ll need measuring cups or a kitchen scale.
2.5 oz or 3 TBS of Zinc Oxide for about an SPF 30 sunscreen (buy here). Always wear a mask when working with zinc oxide so you don’t breathe in the powder.
60 drops of doTERRA TerraShield essential oil blend (buy here)
Measure the beeswax, butters, coconut oil, and zinc oxide and place into a large, glass measuring cup. Use a double boiler if you have one.
If you don’t have a double boiler, (I don’t) fill a pot about halfway with water and place the measuring cup into the pot. Voila! Double boiler!
Allow beeswax, butters and coconut to melt over low heat, stirring occasionally. I use a wooden skewer to stir.
Once melted, add additional oils and use a stick blender to emulsify everything together. Do not use a blender. It will be a huge mess!
Remove from heat and add essential oil blend. Blend again with stick blender to combine.
Pour into containers of choice. It will be thick but squeezable if you want to you a squeeze bottle.
Yield: About 12 oz
Want it thicker? Add more beeswax.
Thinner? Add more oil.
Stronger SPF? Add more zinc oxide. (Keep in mind that zinc oxide with thicken the sunscreen so you may need additional oil.)
Don’t want bug repellent? Use other essential oils. I like peppermint and lavender! (Don’t use citrus essential oils as they increase photosensitivity.
Have you ever made sunscreen? What are your tried and true methods?
Disclosure Statement: This post contains affiliate links.
Sarah is a wife, mom of 4, farm owner, and real food blogger at Real Food Outlaws. She is also an Master Herbalist and owns 90210 Organics, an Eco-boutique and Apothecary. She holds a Master’s Degree in Applied Clinical Nutrition from New York Chiropractic College and is a Clinical/Functional Nutritionist and Advanced Nutrition Response Testing™ Practitioner at Natural Health Improvement Center of South Jersey and Natural Health Improvement Center of Des Moines. You can often find her barefoot in the garden (or kitchen), or rummaging through a refrigerator (not necessarily her own).