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15 Jul

Does DIY Sunscreen Work?

Posted by Bikini Owner in diy sunscreen

does DIY Sunscreen work?

You've no doubt noticed that we're currently caught up in a huge DIY movement. From home-churning butter (so easy in a food processor!) to modular homes built from scratch, there's no area of our lives where handmade isn't the name of the game.

Sunscreen, incredibly, is another product category that DIY'ers are latching on to. Google the term "homemade sunscreen," and you'll find tons of blogs and Pinterest boards offering recipes for whipping up pastes, lotions, and more that claim to offer effective sun protection. But can you really get the same, safe effects as a megalab at home?

A recent article in Allure raised our eyebrows, as their writer urged readers to please leave sunscreen to the experts. A cosmetic chemist and dermatologist both weighed in on the topic, stating that at-home sunscreens could absolutely not achieve the same effects as store-bought creams as lotions, even if they're made with the same base ingredients of zinc and titanium dioxide. It turns out mixing with a spoon or a blender is no match for a homogenizer, a high-pressure machine which blitzes particles into evenly distributed pieces.

What about all those chemicals, you say? We know we've been educated to be suspicious about them, but chemistry does offer modern protection that no amount of organic matter can match: There are many different UV wavelengths, each which require a different form of chemical or physical barrier to prevent absorbtion by the skin. Coconut oil might offer a natural SPF protection of 10, as we've reported in the past, but that doesn't mean it makes the best base to blend with other sun protection ingredients. Dermatologist Dr. Sejal Shah tells us, "Sunscreen companies invest a lot of time and money into formulating and testing sunscreens to make sure that they are stable and effective and this is regulated by the FDA. Many DIY recipes call for oils which can increase your risk of sunburn — oils absorb light, making UV rays penetrate the skin more." 

The FDA regulates sunscreen production and labeling closely, in order to certify the SPF properties in every single sunscreen on the shelf at your local drugstore — unless you're submitting your at-home SPF for testing, there's really no way of knowing how effective anything you're mixing up is.

What's more: If you're looking to save money on sunscreen, the cost of all the ingredients needed to whip up a batch at home exceeds the cost of a tube of the store-bought stuff (one pound of zinc powder alone is $7, plus you need shea butter, titanium dioxide, and more carrier ingredients, while a tube of Neutrogena Pure & Free is $13.29). 

If you're looking to pare down on chemicals in your life, we hear you. There's a plethora of naturally formulated sunscreens that won't break the bank out there: We suggest you invest your money there, and head out into the sun knowing that a formally trained chemist has blended your SPF.

What should you do the next time you get the DIY itch? Go bake a cake.