Inhalers Homemade

Seems you can buy refillable inhalers. You soak the cotton wick in essential oils of your choice, put in the inhaler and sniff away.

If you live in the States you can buy these rather nice ones in glass and aluminium from  3.5 inches x .75 inches, outer shell is aluminum.

If you live in the U.K. you have to make do with these ugly plastic ones from Ebay. Yes, I know, plastic – but reusable rather than disposable.


To clear stuffed noses try Eucalyptus oil

Eucaplyptus Oil

Find more #plasticfree personal care products here



Body Butter

One of the joys of living plastic free is that you have all kinds of useful base ingredients in the cupboards so should you OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAever forget anything, like a birthday say, you can easily remedy the situation with this fantastic bodybutter / intensive repair cream, any old guff to suit cream…. in minutes!

Here’s my recipe for super-fast, super-creamy body butter

60 grams coconut oil – hard
60 grams shea butter

5 grams oil – any oil

Mash it up with a spoon then whisk with a hand whisk to make lovely,fluffy body butter.

I Never Forgot Essential Terry’s Chocolate Orange Love Mousse.

Add some Cocoa and some Sweet Orange essential oil to the body butter

Because this is meant to be used fast, I put it in a hand decorated, compostable, paper/PLA pot from Vegware. Being paper, these are easy peasy to draw on so you can quickly personalise your pot. Few hearts and kisses later, pop the lid on, top with a card and tie up with hairy string. For sure the drawings could have been better but I only had a Sharpy, a fluero highlighter and time was against me.

NB go steady on the cocoa, too much and there is a chance you will end up looking like a politically incorrect, 70’s song and dance troupe. This can work against you in the romance department.

I Never Forgot Rose Essential Hand Repair.

Something for Mum? Here I added some colour and rose essential oil to make. I put this is one of my posh pots – glass with a metal lid….classy!

pink cream

Base ingredients

I love aromantics and buy most of my stuff from them but there are loads of good guys out there

You can get Coconut oil locally


Pots, bottles and closures



Coconut Oil

It’s great.

I use it….

to remove eye make up and clean crusty eyes.

as a conditioner. I have very oily hair so I rub it on my hair before showering, leave for 5 minutes then shampoo off. Afterwards my hair is lovely and silky. Village boy has very dry hair so he applies a little after showering. His hair is nice and smooth.

as a general moisturiser. Just slap it on, it is nice and light.

in my homemade creams

as an after sun treatment use it neat or with a few drops of lavender essential oil to help heal sun damage

as  toothpaste – spit in the bin if you don’t want to block your sink.

as a lubricant with these biodegradable condoms


Other people use it to do rude things, for cooking and lots of other stuff.


I buy mine great big glass jar at Kadims, the Asian Supermarket on Blacker Road Huddersfield. You can also get it in a glass bottle from Tescos and of course on line. You can get organic coconut oil from the Half Moon Health shop in Huddersfield.

NB Not quite plastic free as the lid is plastic lined, but as close as you will get.

Buy Online

Biona Org Odourless Coconut Oil 610 ML x 1
Biona Org Odourless Coconut Oil 610 ML x 1
Amazon Products

Being committed to local shopping, I prefer to buy that way whenever possible. I would encourage you to do the same. One of the joys of living plastic free is mooching round the local shops seeing what you can source. But sometimes you can’t buy local so I have put together an Amazon catalogue.

Yes we do get an affiliation fee for this, and no we are not entirely happy with Amazons recent history. However, we have always found their service to be good and their packaging usually compostable.


Palm Oil

While I was in Malaysia I got to see some orangutangs. Most of them were in the rehabilitation center which is basically a safari park, a bit of preserved jungle.  I was also  lucky enough to see one in what was left of the  wild outside – along  with some big nose monkeys. When I say wild, I mean a tiny strip of jungle left straggling along the river bank. The rest of the area, that had once been wild and wonderful rain forest, was now covered with palm oil plantations. Acre upon bloody rolling acre of palm trees. The only reason we got to see so much wild life was that it had been pushed right up to the river by  farmers encroaching on their habitat. Those monkeys had no where to go and no where to hide.

Palm oil comes from Malaysia and Indonesia. Both countries have cut down hundreds of acres of rainforest to make way for huge mono crop farms. While Malaysia appears to be finally taking a more considered approach Indonesia is still tearing down trees and destroying ancient peat land at a frightening rate.

“The average annual rate of forest loss in Indonesia was 498,000 hectare (ha)  (FAO, 2010) from 2000 to 2010 or the equivalent of over 55 rugby fields per hour.

The expanding palm oil industry has been a key driver of this deforestation.  In the decade to 2010, Indonesian plantation area nearly doubled to close to 8.0 million ha and is expected to near 13 million ha by 2020 (PWC, 2012).”

Indiginous people have  been expelled from their land and the loss of habitat has obviously resulted in a  reduction in wildlife some of which, like the orangutang,  is now endangered. This has caused international concern and calls by many for palm oil to be boycotted,  So much so that in  2004, an industry group called the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) was formed to work with the palm oil industry to help mitigate some of the worst impacts and rehabilitate the palm oil brand.

The World Wildlife Foundation has approved the  RSPO efforts  in “providing assurance that valuable tropical forests have not been cleared, and social safeguards have been met during the oil’s production” of Certified Sustainable Palm Oil.

What’s Palm Oil Used For?

Almost everything from food to cosmetics. You can see a big list here.

How Do I Know?

That’s not so easy. Many products that use palm oil don’t clearly label the fact. Palm oil and its derivatives can appear under many names.

The WWF lists includes the following:

INGREDIENTS: Vegetable Oil, Vegetable Fat,  Palm Fruit Oil,  Glyceryl, Stearate, Stearic Acid, Elaeis Guineensis, Palmitic Acid, Palm Stearine, Palmitoyl Oxostearamide, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-3, Sodium Kernelate, Sodium Palm Kernelate, Sodium Lauryl Lactylate/Sulphate, Hyrated Palm Glycerides, Etyl Palmitate, Octyl Palmitate, Palmityl Alcohol

And here are some more

  • PKO – Palm Kernel Oil
  • PKO fractionations: Palm Kernel Stearin (PKs); Palm Kernel Olein (PKOo)
  • PHPKO – Partially hydrogenated Palm Oil
  • FP(K)O – Fractionated Palm Oil
  • OPKO – Organic Palm Kernel Oil
  • Palmate
  • Palmolein
  • Palmitate – Vitamin A or Asorbyl Palmitate (NOTE: Vitamin A Palmitate is a very common ingredient in breakfast cereals and we have confirmed 100% of the samples we’ve investigated to be derived from palm oil)
  • Sodium Laureth Sulphate (Can also be from coconut)
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulphates (can also be from ricinus oil)
  • Sodium dodecyl Sulphate (SDS or NaDS)
  • Elaeis Guineensis
  • Glyceryl Stearate
  • Stearic Acid
  • Chemicals which contain palm oil
  • Steareth -2
  • Steareth -20
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulphate
  • Sodium lauryl sulfoacetate (coconut and/or palm)
  • Hydrated palm glycerides
  • Sodium isostearoyl lactylaye (derived from vegetable stearic acid)
  • Cetyl palmitate and octyl palmitate (names with palmitate at the end are usually derived from palm oil, but as in the case of Vitamin A Palmitate, very rarely a company will use a different vegetable oil)

*Disclaimer: Through research we’ve found that Vitamin A Palmitate can be derived from any combination of vegetable oil such as olive, coconut, canola and/or palm oil. Though in all the cases we’ve documented, companies use palm oil to make derivatives like Vitamin A Palmitate, it can be tricky to know for sure.

Join The Plastic Boycott & Go Palm Oil Free

Being plastic free means our palm oil consumption is cut to  a minimum because we

  • eat little processed food as processed food is usually plastic packed food.
  • cook from scratch and the only oil we use is olive oil or sunflower seed.
  • make most of our own cosmetic and cleaning products. We know what goes into them and that is the tiny amount of palm oil in a cosmetic emulsifier. Really we are talk maybe 25g And is certified sustainable.
  • clean using bicarb and palm oil free soap
  • using butter not margarine
  • don’t shampoo

When we do buy we try to buy palm oil free using this great data base of palm oil free products for guidance.

You can read why Lush stopped using palm oil in their cosmetics here.


The palm oil industry provides a lot of work. While a boycott might help some it will of course impact on others. A meaningful dialogue and alternative work opportunities need to be developed.


How to Exfoliate Plastic Free

Microbeads…. the newest way to exfoliate. These tiny particles, or microbeads, scrub away at the skin supposedly leaving it wonderfully cleansed.  These beads may well deep clean your skin but guess what? Unless otherwise stated, they are almost certainly made from plastic.

After using, they are washed off your face and down the drain and into the ocean where they become pollutants that don’t biodegrade. Truly, plastic is rubbish!

Here’s a really easy way to avoid this problem.

Reusable Products

Cotton Flannels – the old school way to clean up. Rub away the dirt and dead skin…it works, honest.

Want tougher love? try a luffa. These dried fibrous vegetables will buff up your blackheads and polish your butt.  I got mine, unwrapped, from TKMax. I cut off smaller pieces to do my face with. Gently scour.

Then there are natural bristle brushes for body brushing. This is exactly as it sounds. Brushing your body and I love this. I have had my brush for ages and I can’t remember where I got it, but these look quite nice – sustainable beech body with pig bristles – vegans and vegetarians you could try these with tampico fibres. 

Exfoliating Scrubs From the Kitchen….

All these have been recommended on the internet. I usually use the above so cannot really comment.


it is probably good practice to do an allergy test and do some further research.


If you are happy to bumble along with me and are aware of the risks of listening to someone who

a) doesn’t have any training in this field,

b) most of what they know comes from Google,

Welcome aboard but please, proceed with caution….

Bicarbonate of soda. Before I knew as much as I did about bicarb I did use this occasionally on my face when it got really greasy and blotchy looking. Since I have found out how alkaline it is I think it is best left for the the laundry.  I do not  advise that you use it on your skin.

However if you choose to,  its particles are rough enough to scour off dead skin but not so brutal as to leave you weeping.  You can get plastic free bicarb here.

Pumice is a textural term for a volcanic rock ...

Pumice is a textural term for a volcanic rock that is a solidified frothy lava typically created when super-heated (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Salt is good and scratchy and makes a good  scrub. It  is not as harsh as pumice, and you can use it in a plastic bath. I like it for my oily chest but would not use it on my face. You can find  plastic free salt here.

Sugar Scrubs – use sugar mixed with coconut oil.  This one seems to work well .

Oatmeal –  described as soothing, exfoliating, soft (no scratchy edges) and known for its gentle, skin-healthy effects. It also contains vitamins B and E. Grind  up plastic free oats in a food processor. I don’t use this on my face because I have get a reaction to it. I find it too brutal.

Coffee Grounds – grab them out of the pot rub them on.  Let them cool down first! I will use these occasionally and sparingly as it is a bugger to clean the shower afterwards

Other stuff….

For truly brutal exfoliation try pumice powder…arghhhhh. Best suited to hands, feet and really grisly elbows.  Use up to 10% in a moisturising cream base (find out how to make your own right here). Do not use the pumice scrub on sensitive skin. Do not use in a plastic bath – it may take off the surface. Can be bought from Aromantics.   (NB Comes in a plastic bag)

Other plastic free health and beauty products can be found right here


Antisceptic, tooth whitener and mouthwash …

Bought a bottle of hydrogen peroxide from Big C Supermarket in Thailand. The bottle is glass the cap is metal. Plastic free you might think?  well, apart from the plastic lid liner and plasticised paper label. However it is  massively plastic reduced. You can also buy it Boots in a plastic bottle.

It is my choice of  antiseptic for my travel medical kit. I use it to clean cuts and grazes.

But, as I hardly ever cut myself I also use it as

A mouth wash and  to help whiten the teeth. But only occasionally because there are lots of conflicting reports on the healthiness of such activities. This is a useful read 

Mouthwash Mix: 1 part hydrogen peroxide mixed with 1 part water. Rinse mouth, then spit out. Discard and left over solution or use it as extra solution.

For another great mouthwash recipe try this blog

or this one for lots more

And don’t stop at the mouthwash, there are lots of wonderful sounding things in there.

Bleach Hair

Use a 3% solution to bleach your hair

Ear Wax

Soften and loosen the earwax with warm mineral oil or a mixture of hydrogen peroxide mixed with an equal amount of room-temperature water. Place 2 drops of the fluid, warmed to body temperature, in the ear twice a day for up to 5 days. Be sure to warm the fluid because cold fluid can cause pain and dizziness. Web MD

And there are lots more things you can with hydrogen peroxide here.


Food Grade Hydrogen Peroxide 3% - 500ml Care 200ml Hydrogen Peroxide 6 Percent Solution
Food Grade Hydrogen Peroxide 3% – 500ml
Food Grade Hydrogen Peroxide 3% – 500ml

You can buy Hydrogen Peroxide on line from Amazon and other places. You can find more online products and read our Amazon policy here,

NB may come in a plastic bottle – you will have to decide if this represents a plastic free saving. I think so  because I get to do so much with it.

Other plastic free beauty products can be found right here.

Want to find more travel related plastic free tips? Check out the travel category



Creams, Balms & Lotions – Homemade an introduction.

It is so easy to make your own creams and lotion that once you start you will never look back. The advantages are huge;  you get to control what goes on your skin, be way more eco-friendly and save a whole load of cash. You can make almost anything the cosmetic companies sell but without the palm oil, dodgy chemicals and weird colours. Though you can have all those too if you want.

Fats and oils can be used to keep the skin supple and prevent moisture evaporation. Many oils and waxes can be used neat such as coconut oil or combined to make a Lip Balm for example

Creams and Lotions, Oils & Waxes

Most creams and balms contain fatty acids

Fatty acids are fatty, oily, greasy or buttery. They come in the form of oils, butters and waxes.

They can be harvested from plants and animals.

The oils used in creams/balms are usually vegetable derived though I suppose you could use lard if you wished (!).

Creams and lotions are a mixture of oil and water.

Using Them Neat

Many oils and waxes can be used neat.

These are my favourites

  • Coconut Oil – moisturising, removing eye makeup, cleansing, massage
  • Cocoa Butter or bees wax – instant lip balm, deep mousturising treatment for nails.
  • Shea Butter deep moisturising, barrier cream.

Combining Oils & Waxes

Sometimes a wax is just too hard and an oil too liquid. Oils and waxes can be combined to create a more usable product. Examples would be

Making Cream & Lotions

But still there are times when oils are are just too… oily. In this case you need to dilute them using water. As Water and oil don’t mix you will also need to add an emulsifier. The end result is cream or lotion. You can learn how to make a base cream, moisturizer or lotion here.

Cream & Lotions

But there are times when oils are are just too… oily. In this case you need to dilute them using water. to make creams or lotions. These are  as I am sure you know, water and oil mixed together in varying quantities.

To make cream you will need the following

  • Fatty acids – oil, butters & waxes.
  • Water
  • Emulsifiers: Water and fat do not naturally mix, you need to use an emulsifier.
  • Preservatives
  • Pots to put your cream in.

Which Oils

Generally speaking the richer the oil the heavier the cream, the more water you put in the lighter the lotion.

Choosing your fatty acids.

The oils used in creams/balms are usually vegetable derived though I suppose you could use lard if you wished (!).

If you don’t know your wax from your oil from your butter, there is an introduction here to fatty acids.

There are hundreds of vegetable oils. Different skins like different oils and you will have to experiment to find what is best for you

This is a great opportunity to buy organic and fair-trade and made a really sustainable face cream.

These are what I use

  • Coconut oil
  • Cocoa butter
  • Bees wax
  • Shea butter
  • Castor oil
  • Rapseed oil


There is much talk of using distilled water but I use tap.


Of course it is not quite as simple as mixing water and oil. You have to add other ingredients to turn what is basically salad dressing into lovely thick cream. So in addition to oils and water you will need an emulsifier.

There are a few completely natural emulsifiers but they  do not give consistent results.  Most commercially used emulsifiers are manufactured.

They are derived from coconut oil and palm oil. More recently, rapeseed has been used. But some are produced from pig fats. Check what you buy.

A combination of VE Emulsifier, MF Emulsifier and Cetearyl Alcohol works every time.

Please note that VE Emulsifier & MF Emulsifiers do include palm oil but in tiny amounts, Be sure to buy from a good practice supplier. You can read more about emulsifiers here


Oil on its own does not go off – there is no water for bacterial to feed on Once you have added water to oil your creams are vulnerable. This is useful but optional. I don’t use it as it cause skin irritations. I have had a few pots of cream go mouldy but we are talking maybe 5 in the years I have been making my own creams.

Active Ingredients

The cream or oil can be used as a carrier medium for active ingredients such as…

  • Suntan Lotion– add Microfine Titanium Dioxide OR Zinc Oxide to make a suntan lotion
  • Self Tan– Add DHA to make a fake bake that really works .
  • Magic, age defying, cellulite busting potions- scour the internet for all the gubbins, the AHAs, enzymes and crushed pearls that are supposed to grant instant beauty and add them too. I can’t promise results, but it’s fun experimenting.

Making creams while travelling

You cannot carry a years supply of home made cream in your rucksack so here are some ideas about making your own home made creams in hotel bedrooms.


Once you have made your creams and balms you will need to store them. You can find a range of pots, bottles and closures here.

Some of the above will come plastic packaged. As I get huge amounts cream out of one small bag of ingredients so I consider it a worthwhile compromise. It still represents a huge decrease in plastic consumption.


Here are some cream and lotion recipes


If this is your first time making lotions I can also recommend the Aromantics cream making starter pack from  It comes with everything you need including, sadly, 30 little plastic pots to put it in. All the ingredients were wrapped in plastic bags as well. Hmmm. On the plus side, the cream is really easy to make and they send you several different recipes.


For the last 5 years now I have been I have been using home-made cream on face and body with no side effects. The plastic pots from the original kit have been reused a number of times. In fact they are still in use. They are great for traveling.

For home I have bought some glass jars with metal lids.

Aromantics is a good and ethical supplier but expensive. I buy a lot of ingredients in bulk from other suppliers. Ebay is a good source. Prices vary so do shop around.

Making Other Personal Care Products Hairspray featured

Its quicker then  trying to choose between a hundred different shampoos and it’s really simple, fun to do, so much cheaper  and  I get to control what goes on my  body, where it comes from and what environmental impact it has.

Lots more info here on making your own personal care products


Toner – skin

I have long had the complexion of a teenager – all spots and grease. While in India this situation got a whole lot worse. In desperation I made myself a face wash out of apple cider vinegar. I normally use this to make a conditioning rinse for my hair so I figured that’s what’s good for the clogged up hair might work for the blogged pores. It works – it really does.

Here’s my recipe

2 parts Apple Vinegar

3 parts water

1 drop of lavender oil for every 2 ml water

Shake well before use.



Hair Gel and hairspray

I got these from green ladies blog

I haven’t tried them because I have no use for such things but I am ever thinking of you more glamorous types and your plastic free needs.

Homemade Hair Gel

By: Michigan State University

The Ingredients

* 1/2 to 1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin

* 1 cup warm water

The Instructions

Dissolve gelatin in 1 cup warm water. Keep refrigerated and use as you would a purchased gel.

NB  I have bought gelatin in paper sachets in the past but it is not a product I use often.  Would appreciate any up to date info on this…

Planet Safer Hairspray Recipe

Chop up a lemon or an orange and boil it on the stove in a couple of cups of water. Boil it down about halfway and then strain out any pulp and mix it in a spray bottle with about an eighth of a cup (1/8: that’s half of a 1/4 cup measure, if it makes it easier) of rubbing alcohol.

If you keep it in the fridge it will stay “good” longer – between 2-3 weeks.

Find more  plastic free products with the >>>A-Z<<< plastic free index


Toothpaste, toothpowder, dentifrice

Dentifrice – toothpaste or  toothpowder whichever, it  is basically an abrasive to clean and polish the teeth.

However it comes packed in masses of plastic.

Which is bad BUT worse still it may contain plastic! Did you know that at least 12  Crest  toothpastes have been identified as containing  microbeads of polyethylene (PE).  You can find which products here. Do take a look because you wont find plastic listed in the ingredients a fact  I find worrying.

Why are they there? It seems they  added for decorative purposes only. However dental hygenists are concerned and I quote Trish Walraven

“I am not saying that polyethylene is causing gum problems. I’d be jumping too soon to that conclusion without scientific proof.  But what I am saying definitively is that plastic is in your toothpaste, and that some of it is left behind even after you’re finished brushing and rinsing with it.”

Bits of plastic get stuck in your gums! But  I strongly reccomend that you read her excellent article  in full and then consider using a different dentifrice.

Plastic Free Dentifrice 

You can use salt. UGHH  

bicarbonate of soda –  can be used neat. Also ugh!!!

“Sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), a product used for many years by itself or in combination with other ingredients has several excellent properties. As a soft crystalline substance that dissolves readily, it has a mild abrasive potential. In solution it will kill on contact all of the motile microorganisms associated with periodontal infections, e.g. spirochetes, motile rods, etc. It will also kill other disease related bacteria. It will also neutralize and detoxify the bacterial acids and toxins that form in plaques (bacterial biofilms). ” for more got to mizar

You can buy plastic free bicarb here

BUT for all its sterling qualities, I find it far too soapy tasting to use un-cut.

So I go for…

Home made Tooth Powder / Paste with Bi-carb

So I mix it with two other famous dentifrices known for their soft polishing action and Orris Root. Orris root is a natural preservative and helps the flavor along.
1 part chalk
1 part kaolin
1 part Orris Root
1 part bicarb

Put in a jar and shake well – use as tooth powder or mix to a stiff paste with water.

Or, if you still cant stand the taste, leave out the bicarb.

You can add flavour with peppermint oil. It is just like real toothpaste. Even leaves white marks on your clothes!

You can buy the chalk, kaolin and Orris Root from Aromantics . The products come in a plastic bags – booo… but they are polythene so easily recycled and  I get huge amounts tooth powder out of one small bag of ingredients.  I consider it a worthwhile compromise and far less plastic than any other option.

Ready Made Toothpaste

There are still some tooth pastes come in metal tubes BUT be aware that all metal tubed toothpastes I have come across have a plastic cap and the tubes are lined with a plastic liner. If you are happy to go ahead one such is

Marvis Classic Strong Mint Toothpaste

Apparently ” What makes Marvis unique is the range of exotic flavours – enticing and addictive tastes that produce a whirlwind of sensations. Marvis search the world to bring you irresistible new and original flavours that turn the simple act of teeth brushing into a daily pleasure of discovery and taste.”

Next…which  toothbrush 


Sun block

Oh the risks I take for you… this year I am going to make my own sun block. If I end up looking Methuselah you will be to blame….

Why Sunscreen

Sunscreens help prevent the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation from reaching the skin.

There are two types of ultraviolet radiation, UVA and UVB

  • UVB is the chief cause of sunburn and linked to sun cancer.
  • UVA rays, penetrate the skin more deeply, and contribute to photoaging. They do not primarily cause sunburn but are also linked to some types skin cancer

Which Cream

You need a cream that protects from both. Creams protect in following ways

  • Physical sunscreens reflect the sunlight
  • chemical sunscreens absorb UV light


SPF factors only measure protection against UVB

  • SPF 15 blocks 93% (approx) of UVB rays.
  • SPF 30 97%
  • SPF 50 98%

When To Wear

There may be no indications of damage being done

Anyone over the age of six months should use a sunscreen daily.

Windows,filter out UVB but not UVA rays.

Up to 40 percent of the sun’s ultraviolet radiation reaches the earth on a completely cloudy day.

Shade and protective clothing are the best ways to protect infants from the sun.

Sun Block Chemicals

  • UVB (290-320nm): Aminobenzoic Acid (PABA), Cinoxate, Dioxybenzone, Ensulizole, Homosalate, Octocrylene, Octinoxate, Octisalate (Octyl Salicylate), Oxybenzone, Padimate O, Sulisobenzone, Trolamine Salicylate, Titanium Dioxide, Zinc Oxide
  • UVA (320-340nm): Dioxybenzone, Ecamsule (Mexoryl), Helioplex, Meradimate, Oxybenzone, Sulisobenzone, Titanium Dioxide, Zinc Oxide
  • UVA (340-400nm): Avobenzone, Zinc Oxide

Physical blockers like Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide may give some deeper skin tones a white cast (as they are, literally, physically blocking the rays). Some may be allergic or sensitive to chemical sunscreens and may need to opt for physical blockers instead. Physical blockers protect skin by deflecting or blocking harsh UV rays, while chemical blockers/sunscreens usually absorb them. (Most other sunscreen ingredients beyond titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are chemical sunscreens, for reference.) Physical blockers tend to be more stable, while chemical sunscreens may degrade and are often paired with other sunscreen ingredients to increase stability. (See more information at


Sunscreens are unlikely to be fully effective after 2 hours

According to the skin cancer organisation  “you need to apply 1 oz – about a shot glass full. Studies show that most people apply only half to a quarter of that amount, which means the actual SPF they have on their body is lower than advertised. During a long day at the beach, one person should use around one half to one quarter of an 8 oz. bottle. Sunscreens should be applied 30 minutes before sun exposure to allow the ingredients to fully bind to the skin. Reapplication of sunscreen is just as important as putting it on in the first place, so reapply the same amount every two hours. Sunscreens should also be reapplied immediately after swimming, toweling off, or sweating a great deal.

Making Sun Block At Home coconut oil featured

You can add active ingredients to home made, ready bought lotions or straight to a base oil such as coconut oil.

Easily Obtained Active Ingredients

Zinc Oxide is the most easily obtained and can be bought from numerous online stores. This is what I use in my sunblock creams. I have been using this for years, all over the world. I have found to prevent burning even in the most tropical of places. It is easy to use.


Offers both UVA and UVB protection

It is a physical sun block. “When you apply zinc oxide sunscreen the particles are said to stay on the outermost layer of your skin, where they scatter and absorb ultraviolet radiation, protecting your living skin below. Zinc oxide is considered a broad spectrum blocker, protecting skin from UVA, UVB and UVC.” from the website.

It is one the oldest and most effective sunblocks BUT it can sit on the skin like a white, pasty mask.

It can be added to

  • home made or ready made lotions
  • Oils like coconut oil

Nano Zinc?

There are 2 kinds of zinc – normal and nano. Nono zinc particles are tiny and so tend to reduce the white look BUT there are some concerns….

Nano or micronized zinc oxide is zinc oxide that  has been ground to a very fine powder to reduce the size of its particles. Anything with a particle size smaller than 100nm is considered a nano particle. This means it spreads more easily and does not leave a white sheen on the skin.The worry is that the particle may enter the body.

The zinc I use does leave a slight white sheen so is obviously not nano zinc. I live with the sheen.

It can also leave white marks on dark clothes. Wear white linen is the obvious answer to this.

Using Zinc


20% zinc oxide  will give an approximate SPF of 30. That is by weight. So you weigh your base say 100g of cream then you add 20% or 1/5th of zinc. Which is 20g of zinc.
You can see from the ratios below that SPF 15 is not half of SPF 30 so you cannot use that scale to work out your SPF factors.
  • SPF4 filters out 75% – 25% UVB gets through
  • SPF10 filters out 90% – 10% UVB gets through
  • SPF15 filters out 93% – 7% UVB gets through
  • SPF25 filters out 96% – 4% UVB gets through
  • SPF30 filters out 97% – 3% UVB gets through
  • SPF50 filters out 98% of UVB rays and SPF100 99%.
  • Source

These ratios were taken from DIY Natural. They have not been tested in a lab proceed with caution!

  • For SPF 2-5: Use 5% zinc oxide
  • For SPF 6-11: Use 10% zinc oxide
  • For SPF 12-19: Use 15% zinc oxide
  • For SPF >20: Use 20% zinc oxide
body butter featured
Sub Tan Lotion.
Add zinc to a home made or store bought cream to make a lotion
Do note that this will make your lotion makes it thicker and much whiter. Too much and you end up with clown makeup. Use a thin lotion as a base.
If you want to make a lotion there are some recipes here.
Store bought lotion. I have never tried this but apparently it helps if you warm them first – let me know how you get on!
This is best for day wear.
Sub Tan Oil
My preferred option is to add zinc  to neat oils and butters. I use my home made shea body butter as a base because it doesn’t go hard in colder climates, is easy to spread and stays in place.
Oil based sunscreens seem to stay on longer in water so is better for the beach but it does look a bit shine and oily for normal day wear.


There are claims that certain oils like coconut oil have a natural SPF. This may well be true but I strongly advise you do not rely on this alone.

Many recipes on line suggest adding essentials oils. In my opinion

  • there is no real benefit to be derived from this;
  • they may make your skin more sensitive to light;
  • essential oils are resource hungry, have a large environmental footprint and should only be used on special occasions.

None of the above has been tested in lab and you have no accurate way of knowing  what SPF your lotion has. Proceed sensibly!

Self Tan

If you want your lotion to be self tanning as well you might want to add some DHA


NB the above products come in a plastic bags – booo… but the bags are polythene so easily recycled  and as I get huge amounts cream out of one small bag of ingredients, I consider it a worthwhile compromise.




Fake-bake plastic-free

Every year they, the fashionistas, say that pale is interesting – well up here in the windswept north of England where the sun don’t shine,  pallid is the norm and we hate it.

So refusing to bow to the indignities of our location we paint our selves with bisto and draw lines on our legs with eyeliner – no sorry that was the war. We stain ourselves brown with self tanning lotion.

But that comes in a plastic bottle and you know what I think about plastic bottles, so I make my own.

Home made self tan 

Add self tanning additive DHA to a base cream.

As taken from the aromantics website – they are the guys I buy my DHA from

A Self-Tanning Agent, DHA is a natural substance derived from the bioconversion of glycerol extracted from Palm or Rapeseed Oil. DHA is also present in the human body. As a consequence, the risk of an allergic response is very low. The result of using DHA is a natural looking brown or golden hue to the skin, without exposure to the sun. The induced tan provides photo-protection against UVA radiation. To use, dissolve in a little cold water and then add while the product is under 40°C. Add 5-8% to Self-Tanning Preparations and 0.5%-3% to Sun Screens. The raw material needs to be kept dry, away from light and in the fridge. NB pH needs to be under 5.5. Test your product with Litmus Paper and either add Lactic acid, Citric acid or Ascorbic acid to reduce the pH, if necessary.

It works – though you might want to play around with the percentages – the first batch I made was rather strong for my  white, white skin.

I have added this to my own home made lotion but I see no reason why you couldn’t add it to a bought lotion. However making your own is really easy – for more details click here.

You can also add it to your home-made suntan lotion to get a golden glow while NOT burning.

NB the DHA comes in a small plastic tub. You can make loads of the stuff from one tub. So while the base ingredients come packaged in plastic this represents a massive reduction in plastic consumption as one small tub replaces a number of bottles.

12 +[mashshare buttons="false"]