Homemade natural sunscreen recipes are going viral. But they don't necessarily work—and some can be harmful.  

By Lauren Wicks
Updated: May 21, 2019

As recent scary sunscreen statistics show some types may not be as effective as they should, and that your skin absorbs more chemicals than previously thought, more and more people are turning to DIY recipes made from household ingredients to protect their skin.

Pinterest is littered with all kinds of DIY sunscreen recipes, made with ingredients like apple cider vinegar, coconut oil, shea butter, and essential oils.

Related: People! Stop Putting Essential Oils in Food Near My Kid!

While we applaud these bloggers for taking sun safety seriously, a new study shows these recipes could actually do more harm than good. Researchers from Nationwide Children’s Hospital and the University of North Florida took to Pinterest to discover the health claims and effectiveness of these DIY sunscreen recipes. They found the majority of these pins offered “insufficient UV protection.”

Ninety-five percent of these pins positively portrayed the effectiveness of natural sunscreens, with most listing their recipe possessed anywhere from SPF 2 to SPF 50. The researchers discovered 68 percent of these recipes offered zero sun protection—putting users at risk for sunburn and skin cancer. The average DIY sunscreen pin had 808 saves, with one boasting almost 22,000.

"The internet is a great place for families to go to for recipe inspiration and arts and crafts projects, but not necessarily for making their own safety-related things," Lara McKenzie, PhD, co-author of this study, said in a press release. "Homemade sunscreen products are risky because they are not regulated or tested for efficacy like commercial sunscreens. When you make it yourself, you don't know if it's safe or effective."

Looking for more on protecting your skin this summer?

Your best bet is to choose an FDA-approved sunscreen that is broad spectrum—meaning it protects against UVA and UVB rays, water-resistant, and has an SPF of at least 30, according to the study’s authors. Make sure to toss out any expired sunscreen, and if you don’t see an expiration date, bottles older than three years should be thrown away too.

For more direction, check out our guide to selecting the right sunscreen for your personal needs. Or, check out five of our favorites, here.

 

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