Why You Should Think Twice Before Using Homemade Sunscreen

DIY is always in. Well, almost. Doing it yourself can save money, motivate us to think creatively, and give us a result completely unique to anyone else's. But while we promote meals from scratch and attempts to make shabby furniture more chic, when it comes to matters of our skin health, it's best to stick with the FDA-approved choices.

We're talking about sunscreen. The internet is currently ablaze with DIY homemade sunscreen recipes. But we have to admit, we're a little skeptical. 

According to Consumer Reports, many people are concerned about the chemicals found in sunscreens that line up on the store's shelves. To avoid this concern, at-home chemists are whipping up their own batches. "So many people—especially parents—are concerned about using chemicals on their own, or their children's, skin," says Lara McKenzie, a principal investigator at the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, to Consumer Reports. She adds, "But the prevalence of these DIY recipes online gives them a false sense of security that making sunscreen themselves means making it better."

Finding out the SPF of your homemade mixture can be dangerous to your health

Experts are critical of the popularity of DIY sunscreen recipes. "It's very scientific and not something you can just make at home," warns Dr. Adam Wulkan, director of laser and cosmetic dermatology at Lahey Health (via WCBV Channel 5 Boston). He adds that it is hard to find out the strength of the homemade mixture until you get a sunburn, which is alarming. "The safest thing is that your sunscreen contains zinc or titanium as the primary ingredient," he says.

Consumer Reports states that in 2019, the FDA called for more data and research on 12 active chemical ingredients commonly found in store-bought sunscreen. As of now, the health organization does not warn consumers to avoid using the sunscreens containing these chemicals.

Considering there is no current evidence suggesting the chemicals in sunscreen are dangerous, and that it is impossible to find out the SPF, or sun protection factor, of a homemade version, we're leaning toward focusing on the DIY projects that don't come with the hefty risk of sunburn.