If you are slathering yourself in sunscreen daily, it might be tempting to DIY your own mix using natural ingredients. However, sunscreen is not just lotion you can whip up. In fact, researchers are warning consumers that homemade sunscreens are not safe.
Every summer, the ingredients in sunscreens are scrutinized, and new information on which sunscreens are safe and which aren’t are distributed. It’s tempting to want to take control and mix a potion up of zinc, shea butter and essential oils so you’ll know exactly what’s in your sunscreen. The problem, though, is you are taking a gamble on SPF when you mix it yourself.
Researchers recently tested several popular Pinterest recipes for sunscreen and discovered 68 percent of the recipes offered insufficient UV radiation protection. Some recipes offered a sun protection factor (SPF) as low as two, which means you’re basically guaranteed a sunburn after about 20 minutes of sun exposure. Some of these pins had been saved 21,000 times, which means there’s a lot of misinformation getting passed around social media.
The chemistry of sunblock is complicated and involves much more than mixing a few ingredients together. For example, good sunscreen's ingredients include nanoparticles and scientifically-proven ingredients. Do you have those in your cabinet? Probably not.
Pinterest recipes sometimes included beeswax and coconut oil, which were found ineffective as UV blockers in a previous study. And if you get burnt, studies warn it only takes five blistering sunburns to shoot your chances of skin cancer to 80 percent, so basically sunburns aren’t something to mess around with. It’s not worth the gamble to your skin and to your kids' skin.
Though the FDA has recently found that ingredients like avobenzone, oxybenzone, octocrylene and ecamsule are absorbed into the skin more than previously thought, those ingredients still have not been proven to be harmful if absorbed. More research is needed and right now the benefits of preventing burns greatly outweigh the risks of the ingredients.
So what can you do to keep your skin safe? Choose a broad spectrum sunscreen that has been proven to be effective (like Coppertone Ultra Guard Lotion SPF 70) with an SPF of 15 or higher (that’s 150 minutes of sun protection). Physical sunscreens containing titanium or zinc can work, but chemical sunscreens will offer you a higher level of protection. Be sure to put a shot glass full (about an ounce) on your body 15 minutes before going outside, and reapply often (about every two hours) especially after sweating and swimming. You only get one skin, so you need to take care of it this summer!