Now that the sun is out in full force, and you’ve tried this recipe for sugar wax, it’s time to up the ante and make a paraban-free, organic, and skin-nourishing sunscreen.
(Update on July 24, 2020: The Wall Street Journal reports that chemicals in our sunscreen may be building up in our bodies faster than we thought, so natural alternatives may be a relief at least for lower sunlight exposures and everyday use.)
I was an adorable child. No, really. I have photos to prove it. There I was, age four at the pool in the afternoon sunshine, in a cute bathing suit and gettting really, really sunburned. I got sunburned every summer of my life. Nobody took “suntan lotion” very seriously back then. Since those careless times, I’ve learned that sunburns continue destroying skin cells even years later, so our previous post about protecting children’s skin from the sun struck a note with me.
I wasn’t surprised when my dermatologist told me I had two basel cell carcinomas that had best be removed. Skin cancer from those old sunburns? Probably, says the doctor.
Naturally, I never risk exposing my skin to the sun anymore, unless I slather on plenty of sunscreen before leaving the house. But commercial sunscreens are so far from natural – see the scary list of chemicals that they contain – that I was happy to find an inexpensive and effective natural sunscreen I can make by myself.
I can’t say how much sun protection factor this lotion has. I can say that I’m quite fair-skinned and burn easily, but using the lotion, I stay burn-free – as long as I reapply it every couple of hours, which is true of commercial sunscreens also.
The tea-based lotion initially feels greasy. But once massaged on, it withstands water and sweat. It nourishes the skin, too, leaving it supple and soft.
Inexpensive, effective and all-natural sunscreen. Gotta love it.
All-Natural Tea Sunscreen Recipe:
Pyrex bowl or measuring cup that holds 2 cups volume, or two cooking pots that fit one inside the other
Pan big enough for the bowl/cup to sit in
If using stick blender, a clean towel to rest stick blender on
For storage and use: Very clean, very dry small jars, or ziplock bags, or empty, clean, and dry re-used shampoo bottles.
Ingredients (choose organic if you can):
1/2 oz. – a well-filled tablespoon – of natural beeswax. I use beeswax pellets, but you may simply chop up a natural beeswax candle and measure the wax. When the wax melts, you simply fish the wicks out.
1/2 cup boiling water
3 black tea bags
1/2 cup sesame oil, no other
Optional: 2 drops lavender essential oil. Lavender is healing to skin itself, but it’s included here mostly to perfume the lotion. Don’t go overboard with the essential oil, especially if you mean to apply the lotion to children. Essential oils are powerful.
Make a strong tea infusion with the teabags and water. Cover and allow to steep at least 20 minutes. Remove the bags before proceeding, squeezing them out to extract as much tea as possible.
Place the bowl in a pan with water in it, or if using pots, fill the bottom pot halfway up with water. Place the smaller pot on top. Heat the water over medium heat.
Put the beeswax and oil in the bowl (or top pot). When the wax has melted, remove the bowl or pot from the heat. If using Pyrex, place it on a folded kitchen towel to prevent shattering.
If the tea has cooled down completely, warm it over a low flame. It doesn’t need to boil, just be warm.
If using a stick blender, start blending the oil/beeswax mix. If using a standing blender, pour the mix in.
Very slowly, pour the warm tea into the oil mix, blending at high speed. Keep blending while the lotion takes shape. It will become somewhat paler as it cools down and eventually become quite thick.
Add the essential oil if using, blend again thoroughly, and spoon into storage containers.
Fill a squat lotion tube, like the one in the top photo, or a small shampoo bottle, if you want to take the lotion out with you.
Keep the lotion refrigerated. It will last 3 months. Extra may be frozen – just label it with contents and date or someone may mistake it for dulce de leche. If you are looking for another sunscreen recipe to try, check out this one for organic sunscreen.
More natural skin care suggestions:
Photo of sunscreen in the making by Miriam Kresh and of natural girl with sunscreen via Shutterstock