Editor’s Note: This piece is the third of our three-part series about current debates in sunscreen.
The DIY (“Do It Yourself”) trend has allowed people to buy less low quality products and build their own, higher quality ones. Overall, it seems to be a force for good, as DIY projects exemplify the work needed to produce simple things like tote bags and jewelry, to more complex constructions like alaia surfboards and backyard decks.
But, should you make your own sunscreen?
While some prefer to do it themselves, it is generally agreed experts should be making pharmaceutical and healthcare products. However, sunscreen is interesting because some believe homemade sunscreen, just like homemade facial masks, are more cost effective and also less full of harmful, unnatural additives.
Should you leave it to the experts or take matters into your hands?
It is generally advised DIY sunscreen is not a good idea. Why? Well, firs it is very difficult to test the efficaciousness of the sunscreen you make in your own kitchen. Granted, you could just put some on and then spend a day in the sun to see if you get fried or not (that would test the strength of the sunscreen against UVB rays). But what about those pesky UVA rays, the ones that penetrate deep into the dermis layer of your skin and are just as harmful as the rays that will make your skin turn red?
While many consumers distrust big corporations because they appear to be corporate machines who only care about profits and not about the well-being of their customers (are you feeling the Bern?), the fact remains these companies invest millions of dollars to ensure their products are effective. Furthermore, they have access to chemicals the everyday, DIY person will struggle to find. But, say perhaps you are able to get your hands on these chemicals. There still remains the intricate and nuanced process of mixing your ingredients. If one does this incorrectly and the ingredients are only slightly out of proportion, the sunscreen will be rendered ineffective.
Plastic Surgeon and founder of the Skin Cancer Center, Dr. Justin Piasecki, summed it up quite well in an article for the Huffington Post, “It’s not simply throwing the ingredients into a bowl and stirring with a spoon.” This is science people, you might be an autodidactic, but this process really does warrant a chemistry and medical degree.
There are some who claim to have championed the process through perfecting recipes and substantial investment of time and energy, such as the founder of Manda sunscreen Cyrus Sutton. Sutton claims to have been making his own sunscreen for years before founding Manda and that his product, “worked pretty well and soon [he] was making [his] own block in [his] kitchen for pennies on the dollar (compared to off-the-shelf products).”
It’s important to note that this was a time when there were not many natural or organic sunscreens on the market. Now, there are plenty of companies who make natural sunscreens. Their products have survived rigorous FDA regulation testing. And honestly, it appears to be much safer and more cost efficient to grab a tube of screen from the experts rather than make your own.
I love DIY, but I love life more. Don’t risk skin cancer in the name of being anti-establishment or overly frugal. You’re smarter than that.