Summer is almost over, but it’s not time to put away the bathing suit just yet. While soaking in the sun is pleasurable for moms, it can be extremely harmful to babies. If you’re heading out for one more day in the sun before summertime ends, or if you’re planning to take your family to an upcoming fall festival, be sure to protect your precious baby from the sun’s harmful UV rays.
While it is best to keep your baby out of the sun as much as possible, it’s not always practical. When you do go out, use hats, umbrellas or other forms of shading to cover your baby’s skin. It’s also a good idea to use sunscreen on your baby, but not any sunscreen will do. Since babies (6 months old and younger) have very sensitive skin, they cannot tolerate most sunscreen products. Instead, use homemade sunscreen for your little one (and the rest of the family, too!).
As a conscientious mom, you should be leery of using over-the-counter sunscreen creams for your entire family. Why? While sunscreens do prevent sunburns, they can also be loaded with toxic ingredients. Two of the most prominent chemicals in sunscreens include retinyl palmitate (or retinol) and oxybenzone. According to the Environmental Working Group, retinyl palmitate is found in 25% of all sunscreens and it can accelerate development of skin tumors and lesions on sun-exposed skin. (Isn’t it ironic that a cream used to prevent skin cancer actually increases the rate of skin tumors?) Oxybenzone – found in half of all sunscreens – soaks through the skin, can trigger allergic skin reactions, and may be a hormone disruptor.
• 2 or more glass jars with lids
• small saucepan or double boiler
• mixing bowl/mixer
• ¼ cup coconut oil
• ¼ cup shea butter (natural SPF 4-5)
• 1/8 cup almond oil
• 1 to 2 tablespoons of zinc oxide powder
• 2 tablespoons beeswax granules (adds waterproof properties)
• Optional: 1 teaspoon of essential oils such as vanilla extract or lavender oil
1. Combine the coconut oil, shea butter, almond oil and beeswax in a glass jar; make sure the lid is secured tightly. A great recycling method is to clean and reuse a pickle jar.
2. Use a double boiler or heat one to two cups of water in a small saucepan over low to medium heat.
3. Place the jar in the water. As the water heats, the ingredients will begin to melt. The beeswax will be the last to melt. Once the beeswax is melted, remove the mixture from the heat and whisk in the zinc oxide. It is important to try to distribute the zinc oxide throughout the mixture.
4. Replace the lid and set in the refrigerator for 10 minutes.
5. Remove from the refrigerator and poor into a mixing bowl. Add the essential oils of your choice. Use a hand mixer and whip until the mixture is light and fluffy.
6. Pour the ingredients into a separate jar for storage. Again, a pickle jar or small baby food jars work well. You will want to store the homemade sunscreen in a cool place or the refrigerator (but do not allow the mixture to freeze).
7. Use as needed for sunscreen within 6 months.
The zinc oxide is the ingredient that protects babies from the sun’s harmful rays. It does so by creating a physical barrier from the sun rather than a chemical one, which is safer for a baby’s delicate skin. The coconut oil, almond oil, shea butter, and essential oil can be found at many grocery stores and most health food stores or online vitamin stores. Amazon can be the source for a number of these ingredients including zinc oxide powder. Although the SPF protection of your sunscreen can’t be measured accurately, use this chart to get a good estimate. Then reduce or increase the amount of zinc oxide based on your family’s needs.
What homemade sunscreens have worked well for your family?
Send us your comments (in the link below) and share which homemade ingredients have worked for you. Let’s help each other protect our precious children!
Jami Cooley, RN, CNWC , is a registered nurse and nutritionist in the Dallas area where she conducts natural health research and writes for Natural Health Advisory Institute. She has also written a free e-Book, Natural Health 101: Living a Healthy Lifestyle. Contact Jami by commenting on one of her blogs.
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