It’s summer here in Australia which means lots of hot, burning sun. And it also means to wear sunblock practically every day. I don’t like putting normal sunblock on because it leaves my skin feeling all greasy and clocked. I googled a bit and there are alternatives, physical sunblocks rather than chemical ones. I’m not talking about hats, clothing and sunglasses but rather the stuff you put on your exposed skin, sunblock.
Chemical and physical sunblocks
Let me elaborate: the sunblocks you typically get from your supermarket or pharmacy are chemical sunblocks which means they contain a number of chemicals which filter the harmful UV raditation and block it from entering your deeper skin levels. A physical sunblock is something that sits on top of your skin, much like clothing. There are two different minerals which are said to block UV-A and UV-B radiation respectively: Zinc and Titanium. Zinc cream is pretty popular among surfers in Australia and it leaves a thick layer, often coloured to look extra cool. Zinc cream is ironically also often used as nappy cream to protect skin from dampness and to support any healing of broken skin. So, zinc cream is nothing unusual for our skin. Plus, zinc is an essential mineral in our diet.
Titanium is a metal commonly used in outer space and we have it in the shape of camping equipment. However, titanium is also used in the food industry and is added to baked goods and sweets. As an additive in skin care titanium is sometimes added as a whitener (much like zinc). Both elements, zinc and titanium, are added to physical sunblock in a powered form as zinc oxide and titanium oxide. I can get these powders as non-nano powders from my oils and butters supplier and I got Zinc a while back.
Working with physical sunblocks
Last week my mother-in-law asked to make her a face cream with sunblock so I used zinc powder for the second time ever in a face cream. It’s not easy working with it. I ended up stirring the melted oils and butters with the zinc powder for about 30 minutes and I still ended up with a thick paste of powder at the bottom of my jar. Not ideal when you’re trying to get the zinc evenly distributed through your cream. So I went back to do some more research and it seems I’m not the only one with that problem. In fact, home-made sunblock seems extremely difficult to make. One source pointed out that any homemade sunscreen with zinc is unlikely to offer consistent sun protection. There might be patches with high and some with low sun protection in it. You will further never be able to rely on any sun protection factor (SPF) for your cream.
Homemade vs. store-bought
This got me thinking about homemade versus stored bought again. I still don’t like the sunscreen from the store and I much rather use my own. But I’m also not willing to risk getting burnt because I don’t like the feeling of a certain product. My solution is something like this: whenever I’m out for a short period of time I make sure to wear a hat and my own sunscreen; whenever I go to the beach and can expect long periods of time in the sun I use commercial sunscreen and just ‘handle the jandal’. I don’t want to get burnt after all. My kids, growing up in Australia, have already gotten used to commercial sunscreen at their daycares. I keep them out of the sun as much as possible or I use a store-bought spray-on version of sunscreen. It’s not really my choice but something I feel I need to do.
My research around the sunscreen-making at home did come back with something I don’t know how to place yet: there are certain oils and butters which contain (or act as?) sunblock. Among the ones I use coconut oil and shea butter seem to be the most useful ones. I haven’t tried them as a sole sunblock yet and I only find hearsay about their properties so far but I’ll continue my search for a home-made sunscreen.