The sun is shining again and winter seems to be behind us now. The sun should be enjoyed as much as possible but our winter-pale skin cannot withstand the burning UV radiation yet. How to protect the skin against excessive sunlight. Here are my thoughts about natural UV protection.

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Natural vitamin D

We all need sunlight. Especially after the winter, the warm sunshine is really welcomed old friend. There is no need to protect yourself from the sun at all if you do not expose yourself to direct sunlight for long periods of time. Excessive sun protection prevents the formation of natural vitamin D in our body. Natural vitamin D formed through the skin is a different vitamin D than the one taken from a jar. We need this natural vitamin D especially abundantly after the winter.

The best way to both protect yourself from excessive sunlight and get the natural vitamin D you need is to move outside in the changing shade and sometimes even in direct sunlight. By moving naturally, the skin does not burn as easily.

Protect yourself and children from excessive sun with clothing

If your skin is very sensitive to the sun you can protect yourself with light clothing. Children burn easily in the sun. Their skin should be protected well because burnt skin will expose skin cancers later on.

Protect children from the sun

An outdoor children’s playground should be set up under the shade of trees. If this is not possible then the playground can be protected by a parasol or shelter.

Children’s clothing should be protective enough. Children are most vulnerable to burning at beaches where the skin is most exposed to the sun. A UV-protective swimsuit as well as sunscreen with an adequate protection factor is the only way to avoid burning of a child’s skin. The children spend time on the beach in a direct sunlight for really long periods of time, unnoticed, swimming and building sand castles. It is the adult’s job to make sure they don’t burn themselves in the sun.

Also, if necessary, protect your own skin from the sun with clothes and shadows. When the skin starts to turn red it is usually already burned. Skin temperature says a lot. Your skin should be warm, not hot.

Nutrition and sun, internal sun protection

Nutrition plays a major role in the skin’s ability to withstand the UV radiation. Many apply yellow carrot oil to their skin in order to protect it from burning. Carrots give the skin sunscreen but only when eaten. The effect of plant phytochemicals such as carotenoids and flavonoids on tolerance to the sun has been studied.  The results of these studies tell us that eating carrots and other plants containing carotenoids and flavonoids do actually help the skin to cope better with sunlight.

One of the best ways to improve your skin’s sun resistance is to use a strong enough vitamin D supplement. What is a strong enough vitamin D supplement? You should first measure your own vitamin D levels and, if necessary, start eating a strong vitamin D supplement. However, vitamin D should be re-measured from time to time. It is not worth eating too much.

There are lots of researches done and going on about the impact of food on human health in the US. Based on those American studies I’ve learned that vegetables such as tomato and carrot will help skin better tolerate sunlight. The tomato contains a carotenoid called lycopene. Carotenoids are not only very good antioxidants but also sunscreens.

The good old carrot is very good vegetable in sun protection when taken both externally and internally. Carotenoids in carrots can easily change the colour of the skin to yellowish, especially if you drink a lot of carrot juice. This is not dangerous.

Vitamin C acts as a protective factor for the skin against the harmful effects of the sun. The effect of vitamin C on the skin has been studied both when ingested internally with food and when applied externally to the skin.

Even though nutrition is a very good supplement against the harmful effects of the sun, one should not forget to use adequate, UV-tested sunscreen. Studies have shown that sunscreen from the diet is by no means sufficient, not even if you eat plenty of tomatoes, carrots and vitamin C.

UV protection from vegetable oils

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There are many articles in internet written about the use of flavonoids in vegetable oils for UV protection. Many sites have even defined protection factors for vegetable oils. However, protection factors cannot be assigned to any oil. The UV protection factor is only granted for products that have been tested with appropriate tests to protect against UV radiation. No natural oil has been officially UV tested. They cannot therefore be considered as sunscreen products.

Coconut oil is often referred to as natural sun lotion. This is nonsense. Coconut does not prevent the sun’s UV radiation from damaging the skin. Instead of sunscreen, coconut oil is very good after-sun lotion to soothe the skin. Coconut is a cooling oil with antiseptic properties.

Photosynthetic Pigments

Vegetable oils are good for people enjoying the sunlight as they help the skin to tan beautifully. The pigments contained in the plants, such as chlorophyll or leaf green and carotene, help the plant to photosynthesize. Photosynthesis is plant’s way to obtain energy from sunlight. All plants have multi-coloured pigments. Leaf green, or chlorophyll, is the most common of these. The orange colour pigment in carrots and the red colour pigment in tomato are called carotenoids. They alone cannot transmit solar energy to plants. Carrot and tomato colour pigments, carotenoids, act together with chlorophyll in capturing the sun’s rays.

Carrot oil and carrot seed oil – what is the difference between them?

Carrot oil and carrot seed oil are two very different oils that are usually be mixed to each other. When talking about UV-protective oils, carrot oil is often highlighted. Carrot oil is the most familiar to us.

What is carrot oil?

I would first like to clarify what is carrot oil. It is any carrier oil (e.g., sunflower oil, olive oil, rapeseed oil, etc.) to which dried carrots have been extracted. Carrot oil is orange in colour due to the carotenoids in carrots that are fat soluble. You can make carrot oil quite easily by yourself, by following these instructions. And, carrot oil has not even been claimed to inhibit UV radiation. It is too often mixed with carrot seed oil, for which such a claim exists. Orange carrot oil can be used perfectly in sunscreens as it gives the skin a beautiful tan. So, tune your own sunscreen with orange carrot oil with this recipe. If you are planning to get your carrot oil from a store, first check to which oil the carrots have been extracted. Olive oil is by no means the best oil in this case.

What is Carrot Seed Oil?

Carrot seed oil is again a very expensive and rare oil squeezed from carrot seeds. Carrot seed oil is beautifully green in colour because it is rich in flavonoids. Specifically, the UV protection factor of carrot seed oil is even claimed to be SPF 40. Of course, this is not true. However, flavonoids have a weak sunscreen effect but they cannot by any means protect the skin against sunburn. So never use carrot seed oil as a sunscreen. It does not prevent burning. You can still use carrot seed oil to prevent the signs of aging. It is an excellent oil for that purpose.

Physiological sunscreens

Physiological sunscreens mainly mean minerals such as zinc and titanium dioxide. In natural cosmetics, both minerals may be used, but not in nanoscale. Nano-sized minerals are able to penetrate through the skin and can end up anywhere in the body. There is no definite scientific evidence for this but why use them when there are other options. Nanoscale zinc and titanium dioxide are used in some non-natural quality sunscreen products. It is very difficult to filter the UV radiation effectively. In addition, sunscreen products are increasingly required to be more effective and comfortable to use, as well as they should last longer. That is why cosmetic manufacturers have started to use nanosized particles. So be careful and use only natural cosmetic quality sunscreens. There are plenty of them available in the stores.

Minerals

All minerals block the sun’s UV radiation. They provide mechanical protection for the skin. A lot of magnesium carbonate powder as well as mica powders, which are natural sunscreens are used in home-made cosmetics.

Thanaka powder

Visitors to Asia may have come across to an old Burmese innovation, Thanaka powder. I dare to promote Thanaka powder because Burmese women have used it as a sunscreen for hundreds of years. They are so fond of the powder that they don’t want to use modern sunscreens. The Burmese ultimate beauty means pale skin. Quite many of them actually do have pale skin because thanaka powder protects them from the sun. Our pale north-European skin is certainly not comparable to Burmese skin because south-east Asian people have naturally more sun protection in their skin. That is why I only recommend thanaka powder with reservation for northern people. Thana powder is made from the log of a citrus tree by grinding. It has a beautiful yellow colour. The powder is mixed with water and applied to the skin.

I have used several times thanaka powder to get more sunscreen to sensitive areas of the skin. It is quite difficult to get Thanaka powder here in Europe. Hopefully someone would start importing and selling it.

Like all vegetable oils, minerals, thanaka powder is not officially tested UV protection product. Personally, I use minerals on a daily basis to protect my skin from both air pollution and the occasional excessive sunlight.  But I wouldn’t go to a beach holiday relying on minerals only.

Can we make the sunscreen by ourselves?

Well, yes and no. The sunscreen can be made, say, by adding zinc oxide into a cream. But it is not real sunscreen. Making of good and safe sunscreen is not easy. It is very challenging even for big companies. However, they have spent and are still spending millions to develop a functional and reliable sunscreen – still. It’s really naive to imagine that we at home could do that.

You can easily find recipes for homemade sunscreens containing zinc. However, you cannot spread zinc very evenly on the skin and therefore it does not provide required protection. Zinc is a mineral and does not dissolve in the cream. The effectiveness of the cream does not necessarily depend on the amount or quality of zinc or another mineral. There is no way you can mix zinc evenly in the cream.

An UV protection product must pass accurate and reliable tests before it receives the SPF (sun protect factor) factor. If the product does not have an SPF factor, it cannot be considered a reliable sunscreen.

However, you can make zinc creams. They do no harm to the skin. They can even protect your skin from sun but never trust them to give you enough protection. Always get a reliable tested natural cosmetic quality sunscreen.

Tips for the beach

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When you apply yellow carrot oil to your skin you are attracting tanning sunbeams to you. This is how you get a beautiful tan. Carrot beta-carotene acts as a sun-collecting pigment on the skin. Tomatoes also have carotene called lycopene. Possibly the red colour of the tomato works in the same way. I haven’t heard yet that tomato lycopene could be used for tanning. Next summer I’m going to try tomato oil on the skin.

Sunny summer days for everyone!

What is your favourite sunscreen?

Carrot oil is a well-known and respected skin care product. Many of us rely on carrot oil’s healing properties in spring season.

Carrots are considered as symbols of a healthy life. It’s hard to come up with any other plant that is so famous for its healthy effects. The carrots are also considered as an example of sustainable vegetable production because they are usually locally produced. They are also easy to obtain in organic quality and fresh. So why not use such a good plant in cosmetics? What are the ingredients in carrot oil and how is it made? What are the skin care effects of carrots? Carrot oil has many good properties. A variety of very different products are sold under the same name. Let’s see what carrot oil is.

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Carrot oil means many different products

The carrot itself is not an oil plant. You cannot squeeze oil from the carrot root. This is a good thing to remember when you are going to buy carrot oil. Orange carrot oil is a mixture of carrot and some oil or extracted liquid from carrots. For the extraction Either dried or fresh carrots are used for extraction and some carrier oil is added. The carrier oil is often sunflower oil, soybean oil, avocado oil, corn oil or other neutral vegetable oil. Usually a mixture of several oils is used in carrot oil.

There are also other, added ingredients in many carrot oils. Glycerol and essential oils can be found in many products sold under the name of carrot oil. Carrot oils are thus refined cosmetic products. Some of them  contain many other things than just carrots. Therefore, there are big differences between the carrot oils on the market. When purchasing ready-made carrot oil, always look at INCI very carefully. Then you know what you are buying and what you are paying for.

Carrot seed oil is not the same thing as carrot oil

Carrot seed oil and carrot oil are very often mixed together. However, they are two completely different products. Carrot seed oil is squeezed from tiny little carrot seeds. It is a very valuable oil that is full of antioxidants. Carrot seed oil should be used in small quantities for particularly nurturant creams and facial masks.

The myth about the UV-filtering effect of carrot seed oil and carrot oil

Carrot oil is sometimes used as a tanning and sunscreen product. Reason for that is the skin colouring effect of carrots and the carotenoids it contains. However, carrot oil does not contain any ingredient that will prevent the skin from burning under the sun.

Carrot seed oil contains a large number of antioxidants. These antioxidants are said to prevent skin burns. Carrot seed oil is even given an SFP (Sun protection factor) of 40. That would mean incredibly effective UV protection. However, this is not the case at all. Applying carrot seed oil to the skin does not prevent sunburn. It is just a waste of expensive oil and the result will be disappointment.

A good sunscreen is really difficult to make by yourself. Large, multinational manufacturers have for decades been trying to develop good sunscreens. The development efforts of sunscreen have required huge financial sacrifices and years of testing for them. You cannot make reliable sun protection at home. So do not even try. Just buy it from the store and stay with reliable manufacturer.

Next time someone offers you carrot oil for sun protection, first look at the official SFP label on the product. In some products it could be, say 15. The SFP 15 is not very high number in sun protection, and with such a low quality sunscreen it is better to stay under shadows of trees on a beach.

The effects of carrot on skin

I am talking about the carrot and its benefits for the skin only. Let’s talk about carrot seeds at another time.

Carrot contains skin-friendly ingredients such as carotenoids and vitamin C. Carotenoids are plant pigments. They give the plants their characteristic colour. Carrot’s bright orange comes from beta-carotene, a carotenoid.

Beta-carotene is a potent antioxidant

The skin benefits of beta-carotene have long been known. Carrot benefits the skin both internally and externally. Carrot juice is healthy, but if you drink it too much, it may colour your skin yellow. However, this is not dangerous.

In external use, beta-carotene acts as an antioxidant on the skin. It fights free radicals, preventing the skin from oxidizing. This keeps your skin youthful.

Carrot carotenoids help the skin regenerate. Old skin cells are removed and make room for newer, younger skin cells. This process makes the skin look younger.

Carrots are naturally antibacterial

Carrot soothes the skin and prevents excessive bacterial growth. Therefore, it is advisable to use carrots after sunburn, when the skin is irritated and red.

Carrot lycopene helps treat impure skin

I also recommend to use carrot for oily skin. Not only does carrot soothe acne skin, it also balances and moisturizes oily skin. Lycopene in carrots is an important antioxidant in the treatment of oily skin. Therefore, many products mentioned for oily and combination skin contain precisely lycopene.

How to make carrot oil yourself

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Carrot oil is really easy to make by yourself. I wrote you a simple recipe for making your own carrot oil. Nowadays I try to put all my simple recipes in the “recipes” tab. It is easy to find them from there. You don’t have to look for them in the middle of blog text.

Have you already bought a sunscreen for becoming summer or perhaps for a holiday? What is your favourite sunscreen product?

Polyphenols sound like a very scientific thing. How do they relate to the ingredients and making of homemade cosmetics? Are there any polyphenols used or added in natural cosmetics? I included polyphenols in this blog for two very good reasons.

First of all, anyone who has prepared homemade cosmetics has added polyphenols to their products, with or without the knowledge of them. Another reason is the effective ability of polyphenols to affect the outer layers of the skin. Polyphenols do indeed produce positive effects in skin care. What are polyphenols and how can we use them in cosmetics? Let’s take a closer look.

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Natural herbs are rich in polyphenols

What are polyphenols?

Polyphenols are mainly natural chemical compounds found in plants. The purpose of polyphenols is to protect the plant from getting spoiled, insects, ultraviolet radiation and microbes. Polyphenols are antioxidants.

There are plenty of polyphenols in almost all plants

Vegetables, fruits and berries classified as healthy contain significant amounts of polyphenols. A cup of coffee or tea contains up to 100mg of polyphenols. Evidence suggests that eating polyphenol-rich foods reduces the risk of getting chronic diseases. Polyphenols can also affect the skin externally.

Polyphenols in cosmetics

We can hardly find the word polyphenols on the packages of cosmetic products.  Still, almost all cosmetic products contain polyphenols, especially natural ones. All cosmetics containing genuine, plant-derived extracts will certainly also contain polyphenols.

Polyphenols have antioxidant effects

You must have come across cosmetics that are said to contain antioxidants. Antioxidants are a large group of substances that inhibit oxidation. In addition to polyphenols, vitamins do belong to the antioxidant group. Now we are only talking about polyphenols, because they have a very unique effect on the skin.

How do polyphenols affect your skin?

Polyphenols, when applied to the skin, act on the outer layers of the skin. Polyphenols in cosmetics can affect many skin problems that are right on the surface of the skin. Products containing polyphenols do not affect the deeper layers of the skin.

Polyphenols are potent antioxidants

They protect your skin from external stimulus such as sunlight. However, they cannot be used as actual protective sunscreen against ultraviolet radiation.  You need to get a functional, tested sunscreen from the shop. However, products containing polyphenols have been found to boost sunscreen’s effect on the skin.

The dark spots caused by strong sunlight on the skin can fade and even disappear when using effective polyphenols in skin care.

Polyphenols work well also in after-sun products

They inhibit the UV-exposed skin damage. Polyphenols control possible inflammation and cool down the skin after sunbathing.

Polyphenols are able to repair small signs of aging on our skin, such as fine wrinkles. The anti-aging effect of polyphenols is based on antioxidants as well as sunscreen ability. The antioxidants in polyphenols prevent oxidation on skin. You can read more about this here on NCBI article.

Polyphenols is a large group of plant chemicals.

There are more than 8000 different types of polyphenols. The best-known polyphenols are flavonoids.

Different polyphenols have different specific properties. I will now list a few polyphenols and plants containing them. There are always several different polyphenols in the same plant.

Flavonoids are the largest single group of polyphenols

Flavonoids are polyphenols that affect plant’s taste and what colour it is. About 60% of all polyphenols are flavonoids. They are therefore the main group of active ingredients extracted from herbs used in skin care products. Next, I will list some very useful flavonoids for you.

Tannins are astringent and bitter flavonoids.

Green tea and coffee contain plenty of tannins. They are also found in smaller quantities in rose plants. The astringent effect of tannins is based on their ability to precipitate proteins. You can use astringent, tannin-rich extracts, for example, in facial toners. Tannins reduce pores and make skin look firm. The use of coffee grounds in facial masks is a good idea. You can also make feet and hands scrubs from coffee containing tannins.

Blueberry and red cabbage are famous for their anthocyanin pigment

Anthocyanin is the most famous flavonoid. It is the pigment in blueberry and red cabbage. Dark grapes are also rich in anthocyanins. Anthocyanin is a particularly powerful antioxidant.

Raspberry and olive are rich in rutin

The rutin also belongs to the group of flavonoids. The rutin improves blood circulation. Rutin-containing extracts should be used when the purpose is to revitalize the skin’s blood circulation. The rutin also inhibits infections. Raspberries, buckwheat and fresh olives contain plenty of rutin.

Why use green tea in cosmetics?

EGCG is a flavonoid that is found especially in green tea. It is the most important active ingredient in green tea. Even a study of anticancer effect of EGCG is currently going on. EGCG protects the skin from the sun’s UV radiation.

EGCG has a particularly moisturizing effect on the skin

It is also a very effective antioxidant. You will get all these incredible effects to your cosmetic product when you use green tea. Green tea also contains other polyphenols which make it one of the best ingredients for skin care.

Polyphenolic amides are special types of polyphenols

Polyphenolic amides include burning capsaicinoids found in both paprika and chili, which are not commonly used in skin care. They suit better to herbal medicine to eliminate pain and aches. But oat avenanthramides, on the other hand, are particularly useful in skin care. I have previously written an article about oat, which can be found here.

How can I add polyphenols to homemade cosmetics?

Adding polyphenols to homemade cosmetics is really simple. Polyphenols are soluble in hot water and vinegar. All you have to do is make an infusion using your favourite herb. If you’ve ever prepared homemade cosmetics, you presumably should know how to do it. If you do not know how to do it, please take a look here.

You can add polyphenols easily to the lotion using the herbal infusion as a water phase. An herbal infusion made from camomile or nettle, is a good base for an emulsion lotion. You will get a lot of valuable polyphenols in your lotion. Chamomile is rich in polyphenol called apigenin. Apigenin rejects the signs of aging and protects the skin against harmful UV radiation.

Polyphenols help your skin in many ways

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There is plenty of talk about the effect of antioxidants in our diet. We should eat berries, fruits, and vegetables to get these valuable substances to prevent our cells from oxidizing. On our skin, polyphenols are able to function about the same way.

Cosmetics containing polyphenols protect our skin from oxidation. Next time you prepare homemade cosmetics, please remember skin protecting polyphenols. The easiest way to get them to your products is to use different herbal infusions. So, look at the herbs you dried in the summer and extract valuable polyphenols out from them to protect your skin.

Have you used herbal infusions in cosmetics?

Body powder is usually made of talc. However, according to some research, talc has been found to be a potentially harmful chemical. There is still research going on and no one dares to confirm this claim. So, I decided to make my own body powder from safer ingredients.

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Body powder is a cosmetic product that should get back its former glory. Prior to the discovery of deodorants and antiperspirants, body powder was widely used everywhere. The purpose of body powder is to absorb excessive fat and moisture from the skin. Your skin will feel dry and fresh after peeling. Body powder can be perfumed with mild essential oils. This way you can get a great skin care product quickly and easily.

Why use body powder?

The purpose of body powder is to absorb moisture and fat from the skin. If you sweat excessively no product is obviously enough. You can use body powder on warm summer days when you want keep your clothes loose on your skin.

Body powder also do neutralize odours. Scents stay fresh longer even if you use a non-perfumed body powder.

Use body powder when dressing after the shower. The skin stays moist for a long time after the shower. Body powder makes the surface of the skin feel dry, making it easier to put on your clothes.

You can use the body powder after applying the body cream. Often, it takes a while before the body cream has absorbed. If you’ll get dressed immediately after applying the lotion, your clothes will absorb some of the lotion. In case you are hurry, you can put your cloths on sooner if you apply body powder on your skin.

You can also use body powder only to the armpits to dry the skin. It will neutralize the odour without being perfumed.

What does the body powder contain?

You do not need many ingredients to make a body powder. My version is quite simple. Since powder is an anhydrous product it does not need a preservative. In addition, the powder does not require any texture enhancers such as emulsifiers or thickeners. That’s why body powder is such an ecological product.

Magnesium carbonate powder

Magnesium carbonate powder is the raw material for natural body powders. It is a white, very fine and dusting powder. You can use magnesium carbonate in mineral makeups, dry hair wash and hair powders.

Magnesium carbonate powder can also be used as part of powdered sunscreen. Powdered sunscreen is a great invention. Powdered sunscreen is not an effective sunscreen when used alone. However, it provides an extraordinarily good level of protection when used together with a natural cosmetic cream.

Arrow root powder

Arrow root powder is a starch such as corn starch and rice starch. Of course, you can use either corn starch or rice starch instead of arrowroot. Personally I prefer arrowroot flour, I think it is absolutely the best for this purpose. It is able to absorb moisture effectively from the skin. Arrow root flour is very neutral and very gentle. It can be used as such even as a baby powder.

Essential oils

Many cosmetic makers want to get a personalized scent to their own body powder. You have a whole range of essential oils to choose from. I personally like scents such as lavender, peppermint or vanilla in body powder.

Another very popular scent is peppermint oil. It is really refreshing and suitable for the whole family.

I have also used genuine vanilla to scent my powder. I put a dry, used (seed removed) bar of vanilla rod in a body powder can for a week. The powder absorbs the natural scent of the vanilla bar.

Dried flowers

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Photo Mabel Amber, still incognito… Pixabay

I sometimes grind dried flower petals and add them to my powder. The flowers need to be ground to very fine dust. It is easy with a mortar. The best flowers for body powder are

Cosmetic clays

I have used mainly kaolin for my body powder. It is a mild and very pale, powder-like clay. It is also very light which is a good thing in this product. Kaolin helps to neutralize odours. It is antimicrobial and absorbs some moisture. Kaolin does not irritate sensitive skin.

If you want more efficient clay, you may want to try bentonite clay. Bentonite can absorb moisture and grease very effectively. Bentonite is a darker and heavier powder. Bentonite does not make the powder so light but more effective.

How to make a body powder?

When making a body powder, it is important that the ingredients are carefully mixed. Because we are dealing with minerals, we should not use any metal vessels or mixing equipment. Metal diminishes the minerals ability to absorb moisture and oils.

I use a wooden spoon and a glass bowl myself. Because the ingredients are dry, wood is truly an excellent blending tool. The glass bowl is handy because I can check through the glass when all the ingredients are evenly mixed.

Of course, you can also choose a wooden bowl, a plastic bowl or a ceramic bowl for this job.

Measure the following ingredients in the container

Do like this:

Tip: You can make a very simple, family-friendly body powder simply by mixing arrow root powder and magnesium carbonate powder.

Sunscreen booster powder

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Minerals are effective physiological sunscreens. This powder is not a true sunscreen as its effectiveness has not been officially tested. However, I have been using this for myself and found it useful. You can use sunscreen powder as an additional sun protection with officially UV-tested, natural-grade sunscreen.

Make a quick and easy powder sunscreen booster by mixing 2 tablespoons of magnesium carbonate powder, 2 tablespoons of arrowroot powder and 1 tablespoon of zinc powder.

Mix all ingredients in a glass bowl with a wooden spoon. Avoid metal. Pack the powder in a glass jar.

Use:

Mineral powders are very versatile and simple to use. Try these easy steps. This is how to get started in making mineral cosmetics!

Have you made mineral cosmetics? Tell us about your own mineral cosmetic tips in comments section!

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