Researching mineral sunblocks like zinc oxide, two words jumped out over and over: “micronized” and “nano”.
Every source of zinc oxide I came upon had been micronized — which just means making the particle size smaller, so it’s easier to blend and apply. Nothing freaky about that, right?
Unless those particles are too small. That’s where “nano” comes in. A nanoparticle is less than 100 nanometers in diameter. Anything less than 50 nanometers will enter skin cells, and less than 70 will enter your lungs.
Nanoparticles that work their way through skin can potentially cause inflammation or problems with the immune system — and those tiny particles can cause serious lung issues when inhaled.
At this point, I might have been banging my head on the desk in disgust. Was there any way to protect against skin cancer without jacking up the risk of other life-threatening monsters?
Thankfully before giving up, I discovered Better Shea Butter makes a non-nano, pharmaceutical-grade, FDA-approved zinc oxide powder which, when mixed with other oils in a five to one ratio, is SPF 20.
Their recipe calls for specialty items like jojoba oil, but I wanted to stick with coconut oil as a base, since it’s a pantry staple. I also wanted to incorporate a little home-rendered lard, knowing that linoleic acid (of which lard is 6-10 percent) helps with acne, skin inflammation, and moisture retention. All the better to have while exposing yourself to sun and heat.
After whipping up a couple of batches in the Dew Abides Test Lab, adding beeswax from a natural beekeeping source for texture, I’ve created two variations that have stood up to repeated field tests — a thinner SPF 12 lotion for everyday use and a thicker SPF 20 for outdoor activities.
If you want to try some for yourself, the recipe is simple. For about 2 ounces of SPF 20, you’ll need:
21g organic coconut oil
4g natural beeswax
10 drops organic peppermint oil
7g non-nano zinc oxide powder
On low heat, melt coconut oil, lard, and beeswax. Add peppermint oil. Pour into jar, then slowly add zinc powder and stir. As it cools, stir again a couple of times to prevent separation.
While the SPF 20 is great for extended outdoor exposure, SPF 12 feels better for everyday use, and you can easily change the proportion of zinc oxide by following the guidelines in this table:
As you all know, we love a good pun around the wee homestead, and hubby has taken this one to a whole nother level. It is with great glee that I introduce the name of our new sunscreen (not available in stores):