Consumer Reports: Don't DIY sunscreen

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Consumer Reports warns one thing you should not try to make at home is sunscreen. (WLS)

Between Pinterest and Instagram and crafting competitions, everyone seems to be looking to DIY these days. But Consumer Reports warns, one thing you should not try to make at home is sunscreen.

A quick search on the internet and you'll be swimming in recipes and how-to videos - not for whipping up food, but for whipping up sunscreen. These sites may claim to have the formula for sun protection, but Dr. Jessica Krant, a board certified dermatologist, said it could actually be a recipe for something a lot worse.

"You're at risk for sunburn in the short term, but in the long term you're really at risk for skin cancer," Krant said.

That's in part because there's no way for you to test the effectiveness of the mixture.

"You have no quality control. You can't determine what the SPF of the product is. You don't even know if those ingredients have any kind of SPF protection," said Trisha Calvo, Consumer Reports Health Editor.

Take zinc oxide, one of the potential ingredients in homemade sunscreen. This mineral protects skin by deflecting the sun's UV rays rather than absorbing them the way chemical based sunscreens do.

While Zinc oxide is found in many mineral-based sunscreens available on store shelves, Calvo said, "In Consumer Reports tests of store-bought sunscreens, the one's that contain zinc oxide or titanium dioxide or both as active ingredients have been consistently found to be less effective than those that contain the chemical active ingredients."

Effectiveness is key.

"In childhood, one single blistering sunburn can increase the risk of skin cancer by 50 percent," Krant said.

To minimize harmful sun exposure, Krant said you should not only use sunscreen, and use it correctly, but also apply a little strategy when heading outdoors.

"The best protection is to avoid strong midday sun and plan most of your activities early or later in the day and to wear sun protective fabric and sun protective clothing, hats and sunglasses, in addition to your sunscreen," Krant said.

Good sunscreen doesn't have to be expensive. Consumer Reports testing found many brands that perform well and cost less than one dollar an ounce.

All Consumer Reports material Copyright 2017 Consumer Reports, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Consumer Reports is a not-for-profit organization which accepts no advertising. It has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site. For more information visit

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healthconsumer reportssunscreenDo It Yourself

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