As much as we love a good DIY project, sunscreen is something that is best left to medical professionals!
If you google or pinterest “DIY sunscreen,” you might be surprised at the amount of homemade recipes that come up for a medical product. The motivation behind making sunscreen from scratch- other than cutting costs- is ingredient control. While it makes sense to be concerned about what chemicals could be absorbed into your skin from sunscreen, it is important to remember that all sunscreens go through rigorous Health Canada testing before they are allowed on the market. There are also organic sunscreens such as Badger, Climb On, and Sun Stuff, available for purchase in most drugstores and online.
While utilizing natural ingredients such as shea butter and various oils (such as coconut or avocado) doesn’t raise concerns about chemical composition, regulation of consistency and quality is difficult in a homemade product, and there is no guarantee that these ingredients include SPF- which endows sunscreen with UV protection. As UV exposure is the greatest risk factor for melanoma and other skin cancers (Canadian Cancer Society, “Risk factors for melanoma“), sunscreen without SPF is essentially worthless. Additionally, commercial sunscreens contain preservatives, while homemade sunscreens have the ability to spawn mould, which may not be visible to the user.
While some natural oils, such as coconut oil, can provide some UV protection, the Mayo Clinic estimates that coconut oil is capable of blocking only 20% of the sun’s rays, while the American Academy of Dermatology recommends using a sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher for adequate protection (Mayo Clinic, “Myth or Fact: Coconut is an effective sunscreen”). Additionally, most sunscreens on the market provide both UVA (longer wave) and UBV (shorter wave) protection, something that is highly unlikely in a homemade sunscreen.
Melanoma is a preventable disease, and part of ensuring that you are protected against the sun is by wearing Health Canada approved sunscreen! If you’re interested in hearing a dermatologist’s perspective, check out PR Web’s spot with Dr. Mitchel Goldman.
Badger, “Why you Can’t Count on DIY Sunscreens“.
Canadian Cancer Society, “Risk factors for melanoma“.
Health Canada, “Sunscreen Monograph- Version 2.0“.
Mayo Clinic, “Myth or Fact: Coconut is an effective sunscreen“.