At first, I was a little hesitant to try out my own bug spray – its not really one of those things that is worth the risk of not working, especially on the kids. It actually sat in our car for about a month before we even used it – but when we did, I couldn’t even believe the results!
We were out at the lake, and on our way home The Hubs wanted to stop for a few minutes to throw in a fishing pole. The place that we stopped at had swarms of these giant-mosquito-looking bugs. I am not sure if they were actually mosquitos – but they were gross and huge and everywhere.
So, I opted to stay in the car with the kids and Vahe set out to face the bugs. What a man won’t do for a fish! 🙂 I was so excited when I realized that I had the potentially-effective bug spray I had made in the car – and, since it was better than nothing, Vahe decided to try it out.
I couldn’t even believe it. I took this first picture of the passenger side of the car – probably 100 bugs just hanging out on my window.
This picture was taken of the driver’s window – where Vahe had sprayed himself down just outside the door, about 5 minutes before. ZERO bugs!
If this doesn’t make you a believer, I don’t know what else will! Since then, we have used it on the whole family around mosquitos without a bite. I would even go as far to say that this repellent works BETTER than a deet-laced pesticide spray that you’ll find in the store. Plus, it smells way better and all of the ingredients are completely natural and safe on everyone!
You’ll find varying recipes online for DIY bug spray, this is just how I decided to make mine. Since it has worked so well for us – I don’t think I will ever try anything different. If you use essential oils, chances are you have almost everything you need to make this bug repellent in the cupboard. The only oil I had to add to my collection was citronella – and it has turned out to be a great investment!
At first, the spray had a really awkward smell to it. When you smell all of the oils separately, you can kind of pick each one out when you smell the entire mixture. But, after a few days it gave off more of a woodsy-lemon scent that actually smells really nice!
So, here’s what you’ll need:
- 4 oz witch hazel
- 1 oz sweet almond oil – totally optional, I just added it so that the spray was slightly mosturizing. You can sub it for another ounce of witch hazel, or any another skin-safe liquid oil
- 12 drops lavender oil
- 12 drops tea tree oil
- 12 drops peppermint oil
- 12 drops lemongrass oil
- 12 drops citronella oil
About a month ago I decided to try out homemade sunscreen – initially just for the fun of it. I did my research – a lot of research. Which, overwhelmingly supported my reasoning for buying more crap stuff to add to my ever-growing craft stash of things I will never use up. You know how that goes.
I read up on both sides of the debate (store bought vs. homemade) and everywhere in between. I’ll let you do your own research, because my sources are likely bias, but I’ll try to touch on the aspects of each that I found that are important to me.
With the info I found, and after putting the theories to the test by making and using both a regular and waterproof sunscreen, I came to this conclusion:
It’s effective, it’s all-natural, all-organic and completely safe. *But* when I need something waterproof – I’ll take the chemical can. I can have my kids covered in seconds with a spray bottle of store-bought sunscreen, when the homemade waterproof sunblock takes me upwards of 10 minutes to apply. The convenience of the time and sanity saved is worth it to me.
Let me tell you why with a good old-fashion pro/con list…
+ Quick to apply
+ High SPF (up to 60+)
+ Does not whiten skin
– Hormone-altering chemicals
Homemade Waterproof Sunblock (bar form)
+ All-natural and organic
+/- Lower SPF (20-30)
– Takes a long time to apply (the beeswax which makes the sunblock waterproof takes time to spread)
– Whitens skin slightly
Homemade Sunblock (liquid form, not-waterproof)
+ All-natural & organic
+ Quick to apply
+/- Lower SPF (20-30)
– Whitens skin slightly
First, I should probably let you know that I opt for organic and all-natural when I can, but I also drink 2-3 (read: sometimes 6+) cans of Diet Coke everyday. (Gotta get you 8 glasses, right? If I wanted to cut chemicals, preservatives, or anything artificial out of my lifestyle – sunscreen is way down the list. Baby steps, people.
Also – it’s important to know that my babies have their daddy’s Armenian skin. They tan beautifully. If I had pasty babies like myself, I would be more hesitant to use the homemade sunscreen because of its lower SPF.
Store Bought Sunscreen
The one thing that turns me off from store-bought sunscreen is that it contains ingredients that literally alter the chemicals in your skin (also affecting your hormone levels) to make your skin itself become sun-resistant. That’s why so many sunscreens you buy in a bottle are waterproof – once they have done their job, they are good to go – even if the carrier cream rinses off. Many believe that more people are actually getting cancer from the chemicals in sunscreen than from the sun itself, and that more of us are actually Vitamin D deficient than overexposed.
While I can’t vouch for the cancer proposition – I do believe that we were meant to have a little sun on us. Which, is why the low SPF in the homemade sunscreens are not a problem for me.
(PS – Did you know that an SPF 40 is not equivalent to 2x the strength of an SPF 20? A SPF 20 blocks about 94% of UVB rays, a 40 blocks around 98%)
The one thing that is great about store-bought sunscreen is that you can purchase so many varieties now in an aerosal can and have your baby covered in seconds.
I love that with the homemade sunscreen, I know exactly what is going into my product. I buy my ingredients organic and make it myself. It is made of an all-natural combination that personally – I have found to be perfectly effective. In waterproof sunblock, I use all-organic coconut oil, shea butter, beeswax, zinc oxide (a natural mineral) and tea tree oil. That’s it.
The sunblock is just that – it blocks the sun, forming a barrier ON TOP of the skin to protect it. It does not alter any chemical or hormone in the body and is completely, 100% safe.
Under a microscope, many argue that the particles of an unprocessed zinc-oxide based sunblock do not distribute perfectly. But, from personal use, I have found it to be very effective. Which, personally, tells me more than a microscope could.
Through first-hand use, I have found that the homemade sunblock in both bar and lotion form really do their job. But, you should also know that homemade sunblock does have a lower SPF than what you would probably buy in the store. Personally, I don’t mind a healthy dose of sun and since my girls do not burn easily, it has worked perfectly for us.
One drawbacks of both the homemade lotion and bars is that it leaves your skin looking a little white. For the kids, this isn’t even a problem for me – if anything, it’s actually a benefit. I know where the sunscreen has been applied. And, it’s not even that noticeable, really – just a slight difference only Mom will notice.
The only thing that is a deal-breaker for me is with the homemade waterproof sunblock. It takes much longer to apply. I have found it easiest to break off a little chuck of the bar and massage it in my hand until it has softened. Once soft, it smooths out onto the skin pretty easily – but it does take a while to rub in all the way.
It would probably take me about 10 minutes to cover my kids head-to-toe, which neither me or my girls have patience for – which is why I go for store-bought at the pool.
The regular, lotion sunblock applies just like any other lotion-based sunscreen. Rub it in, and you are set. You get all of the benefits of the chemical-free, all-natural sunscreen and don’t have to put in too much elbow grease or bribery to get it on the kids.
There is so much information out there that will sway you on either side of the sunscreen debate. Decide what is best for you and your family – it may be completely different than what is best for mine.
I went a little overboard in making the waterproof sunscreen bars – that probably won’t get all used up this summer. But, I have found them great for calming itchy bug bites and have also been using them as chapstick – they work great!
If you are interested in making your own homemade sunblock, here are the recipes I used to make my own:
Homemade Sunblock – Waterproof Bars (~20 SPF)
1.5 oz beeswax
1.5 oz shea butter
1.5 oz coconut oil
1 oz zinc oxide
~10 drops of tea tree oil
1. Melt the beeswax, shea butter and coconut oil together. (I put all of the ingredients in a mason jar, and set it in boiling water until melted).
2. Remove from heat and stir in zinc oxide. Pour into molds. (I used empty deodorant containers and ice cube trays.)
3. Let cool completely. Remove from molds – refrigerate until use.
Homemade Sunblock – Lotion (~20 SPF)
2 oz shea butter
2 oz coconut oil
1 oz zinc oxide
~8 drops of tea tree oil
1. Melt the shea butter and coconut oil together. (I put all of the ingredients in a mason jar, and set it in boiling water until melted).
2. Remove from heat and stir in zinc oxide. Pour into container.
3. Let cool completely before use. Store at room temperature.