Consumer Reports: Why DIY sunscreen is a don't

Posted at 5:50 PM, Jul 14, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-14 18:21:17-04

Between Pinterest and Instagram and crafting competitions, everyone seems to be looking to DIY these days. But Consumer Reports warns, one thing you should NOT try to make at home is sunscreen.

A quick search on the internet and you’ll be swimming in recipes and how-to videos -- not for whipping up food...for whipping up sunscreen. These sites may claim to have the formula for sun protection, but Dr. Jessica Krant says it could actually be a recipe for something a lot worse.

Dermatologist Dr. Jessica Krant says, “you're at risk for sunburn in the short term, but in the long term you're really at risk for skin cancer.” 

That’s in part because there’s no way for you to test the effectiveness of the mixture.

Consumer Reports Health Editor Trisha Calvo says, “you have no quality control.  You can't determine what the SPF of the product is.  You don't even know if those ingredients have any kind of SPF protection.”

Take zinc oxide, one of the potential ingredients in homemade sunscreen.  This mineral protects skin by deflecting the sun’s UV rays rather than absorbing them the way chemical based sunscreens do. While Zinc oxide is found in many mineral-based sunscreens available on store shelves, Calvo says “In CR tests of store-bought sunscreens, the one's that contain zinc oxide or titanium dioxide or both as active ingredients have been consistently found to be less effective than those that contain the chemical active ingredients.”

To minimize harmful sun exposure, Dr. Krant says you should not only use sunscreen -- and use it CORRECTLY -- but also apply a little strategy when heading outdoors. “In childhood, one single blistering sunburn can increase the risk of skin cancer by 50 percent. The best protection is to avoid strong midday sun and plan most of your activities early or later in the day and to wear sun protective fabric and sun protective clothing, hats and sunglasses in addition to your sunscreen.”