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Homemade Sunscreen

Homemade chocolate chip cookies…yum! Homemade ice cream…the best! Homemade apple pie…to die for! Homemade sunscreen? Evidently, it’s a thing, a thing I had not heard of until ten minutes ago. I know that you can make almost anything with the right ingredients and a good YouTube instructional video, but sunscreen? This revelation opened up a ton of questions, mostly regarding its safety and efficacy.

Sunscreen takes science

I did some digging and I found an interesting medically-reviewed industry article about homemade sunscreen. According to Dr. Megan Feely, a board-certified dermatologist from New York and a clinical instructor at Mount Sinai’s Department of Dermatology, “Manufacturing a sunscreen is not a simple task. Companies have to demonstrate that their products are stable and efficacious in providing you with broad-spectrum protection against UVA and UVB rays. It may take years of research and development to deliver a sunscreen that will protect you and your family from developing skin cancer.”1

Homemade, a dangerous blend?

According to the article, Do It Yourself (DIY) sunscreen, which often contains essential oils, lack other chemical ingredients required to boost protection. The homemade variety may lack important chemical properties to properly protect its users. Additionally, most homemade recipes do contain titanium oxide or zinc oxide, which do form a protective layer on the skin. But mixing them at home with other ingredients has its dangers as it may not blend well and leave some or all of one’s skin unprotected.

It’s not tested

Additionally, the stability of homemade sunscreen is not been tested. Online ingredients may have lower Sun Protection Factor (SPF) than expected and the resulting formula may provide less protection. “A professional cosmetic chemist, Amanda Foxon-Hill, tried making her own at home, then took it to a lab for testing: The one she thought would be a 30 came back with an SPF 12. The ones she thought would be a 15 were only a 7. ‘Epic failures all,’ she wrote on her blog.”1 In contrast, sunscreen products manufactured in the U.S. are heavily regulated and tested.

I can’t even make homemade lemonade

For so many reasons, it does not seem wise to me to make my own sunscreen. I can’t imagine putting a vial of homemade sunscreen in my child’s backpack before sending him/her off to summer camp and trusting that my online-purchased ingredients were safe and formulated correctly, let alone that I actually knew how to accurately measure a “pinch” of this or a teaspoon of that. I mess up homemade lemonade (as in it’s way too sour or sweet or weak).

Better off buying it

Dr. Feely concurs, “You should not attempt to make your own sunscreen.” The article concludes with these recommendations. Purchase Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulated and approved broad spectrum sunscreen with a SPF of at least 30. Apply thirty minutes before going out and reapply often, especially after heavy exercise or swimming. Store-bought cookies or homemade? Homemade. Pies? Homemade. Lemonade? Store-bought (unless anyone but me makes it). Sunscreen? put away the measuring spoons.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.