Reef Friendly Sunblock

0 Posted by - August 12, 2016 - Learn, Salty Times

Living on the water means everything we use on the boat has the potential to enter the ocean.

We aim to use all natural and toxic free products on our bodies for our health and the health of our oceans.

Sunblock is a big one for us, we use it everyday and we are in and out of the water on a regular basis and the Australian sun can be harsh.

I started doing some research and experimented with making all natural sun block that works for us and will have less damage on our oceans and reefs than commercial chemical based sun creams. ( learn more about how it impacts coral reefs here.)

The basic recipe is below…But first a disclaimer – this works for us, but it may or may not work for you. I recommend you trial this recipe carefully and see if it suits your skin type and the environment.

Also we prioritize shade whenever we can – long sleeves and big hats, we don’t bake in the sun or try to get tanned. We avoid the sun as much as we can since we are in it day in and day out on the boat.

Sun block information

There are two types of suncreams:

physical blockers


chemical blockers

Chemical Blocking sun creams absorb the suns UVA and UVB rays so that they don’t absorb into your skin.

The chemicals in your average sun cream are pretty intense, a couple they can include are:

benzophenone-2 – the substance that stops reefs from absorbing uv light.

Endocrine disruptors, that mimic estrogen and then mess with your body’s natural hormones.  Sarah Wilson has a great blog covering about the toxicity of sun cream here.

Vitamin A ( aka – retinyl palmitate) is  another common  chemical  that when in the sun can speed the development of  skin lesions and tumours.

Everything I have read about your standard sun cream that uses chemical blockers all sounds pretty harsh for our skin to absorb.

What we think may be protecting us from skin cancer, may be doing another form of damage to our bodies.


Physical blocking sun creams actually stop rays from reaching your skin by blocking them out (without absorbing them). Zinc Oxide and Titanium Oxide are the widely used ones. * Note* Zinc Oxide seems to be the better of the two as it blocks both UVA and UVB rays.

These physical blockers are not without some controversy. As you may know heavy zinc doesn’t spread on easily. Heavy Zinc is fine for a white stripe on your face but not for your whole body. Commercial brands have now started using micronized and nano-particle zinc in sun creams to make them more spreadable. The concern is that the small particles are small enough to be absorbed into your skin, and one article stated that when in sunlight and absorbed into the skin micronized Zinc Oxide can form free radicals.

In our suncream we use zinc oxide powder. I got this online from a soap supply company and it was standard zinc and not micro or nano particles.


All Natural Sunblock Recipe.

1 cup Shea Butter

1/2 cup Cold pressed Coconut Oil

1 cup Raw Cacao butter

1 tablespoon Vitamin E Oil

1.5 tablespoons Zinc Oxide Powder

Melt Shea butter, coconut oil and cacao butter in a glass jar in a pot of simmering water. Once liquidised, add Zinc Oxide powder and mix well. Be careful with Zinc Oxide powder, it should not be inhaled.

Once thoroughly mixed leave in glass jar to cool.

Zinc powder can sink to the bottom of the mixture, I turn my glass jar over a few times ( with the lid on tight of course) to make sure the zinc mixes well.

The mixture will liquidise in hot heat. I keep mine in a cool place and even in the fridge if it is really hot out.

It stays on, but isn’t 100% water proof. We wear it while surfing and haven’t been burnt. But apply liberally and avoid too much sun exposure. Like I said we make shade our first priority.

A bonus tip: For daily face moisturiser add a tablespoon of zinc oxide powder to a light and natural moisturiser. Mix well. This can be used instead of the other recipe as the other recipe can feel too oily for your face.

I even make a lip sun block by adding beeswax to the above recipe so that I can protect my lips from being burnt.

You can buy natural sun blocks we use Sol Zinc as a face zinc when we surf and we love that they use natural ingredients that stay on.

If you care about our oceans and the health of our reefs as well as your on health, then give this easy sun block a try. Once you have the ingredients ( which we buy in bulk) you can make it in as little as 20 mins and never run out of sun block, save plastic waste… and save money too!

Stay Salty






1 Comment

  • Jenny Smith October 6, 2016 - 1:28 pm Reply

    Hi you two, Carol heard your talkback on radio yesterday, & phoned for me to get it up and listen. I loved that part of the coast and have such wonderful memories. We were interviewed on ABC Tasmania local radio in March 2012, saying very much what you said, Jamie. Living lightly on the planet, small footprint. Not needing things. I can listen to my Chris beautiful voice, his ready laughter now. This interview is all the more poignant as 1 week later he was diagnosed with Liver Cancer.( If you wanted to type in the above, you could listen also. )( Wings of Fantasy). We are all shivering down here, but summer on the way. Clare,. Rhys and 2 little ones all happy and well and Holly, Ash ans Elliot, 3, in Japan at moment all happy and well. I was onboard 26 years, girls loved living, sailing and growing up aboard. Lots of love, Aunty Jenny

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