noun_68993_ccSummer's Coming and It's Time to Talk Sunscreen

We are all trying to "do the next right thing" at Coastal Expeditions, especially when it comes to our personal environmental impacts day-to-day.  We aren't always good at following through, even when our best intentions are there, but it is interesting to see how each team member tries to do their part to minimize their footprint.

Caroline is vegan.  Geoff rides his bike to work whenever he can.  Chris and Kari recently put up a clothesline and decided to reduce their dryer usage in half (or more!).  Kevin makes his own sunscreen.  We could go on and on with the "little" things that everyone is doing-- and that you are probably doing, too!  The point is that they add up.

When Kevin showed up last summer (his first season with us) holding a mason jar filled with a thick, homemade sunscreen, we were impressed.  It had never occurred to us that one could just "make" sunscreen or, for that matter, that it would really work.

Well, we watched Kevin dutifully apply this butter-like salve throughout the summer, and he suffered from nary a burn.  What's more, this natural mix of oils and zinc oxide are marine and reef safe and free from endocrine-disrupting chemicals that are found in most commercial sunscreens.

Every year, an incredible amount of sunscreen washes off of beachgoers and ocean explorers into the sea.  Researchers  estimate that it is between 6,000 and 14,000 tons of sunscreen.  It's hurting our coral reefs, fishes and fragile underwater ecosystems.

And if it can injure living organisms like corals and fishes, imagine what it is doing to you as you coat your largest organ, your skin, with it.

So....what is the solution?  First, don't buy a sunscreen with oxybenzone in the ingredients.  This chemical has been proven to harm coral at very low concentrations.  The main active ingredient that you want is zinc oxide.  If you aren't the DIY-type, brands like Sun BumBadger Balm and All Good offer high-quality products with you and the environment in mind.  For good reason, you're going to pay a little more for these sunscreens

If you want make your own sunscreen (it's easy once you have the ingredient list), here's the recipe that Kevin uses.  You can order the zinc oxide and beeswax off the internet or find it at the health food store.


  • ½ cup  Olive Oil
  • ¼ cup Coconut Oil
  • ¼ cup Beeswax
  • 2 Tablespoons Zinc Oxide (use a non-nano formulation so that it doesn't get absorbed into the skin)

Heat a saucepan of water (fill a little less than halfway) over medium heat.  Mix the olive oil, coconut oil and beeswax in a glass bowl and set into the water bath.  Heat until the oils and wax are melted, stirring occasionally.  When they are incorporated, mix in the zinc oxide and stir to combine.  Remove from the water bath and pour into a glass or metal container with a tight-fitting lid.

It will solidify into a heavy salve-like substance.  Just keep in a cool place and scoop a little out when you want to get some sun protection-- and be sure to make a new batch each season since the oils can go bad over time.  

Kevin Regan leads our wilderness classes, teaching skills like fire-making, natural navigation, edible plants and primitive shelters.  Classes and weekend trips are offered throughout the year and are great for weekend warriors, thru-hikers and lovers of the outdoors.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *