People Are Making Sunscreen at Home and It's a Really Bad Idea

People often create home remedies to fight colds, hangovers, and stomach aches. But there is one thing you should definitely just buy at the drug store: sunscreen, according to a new paper published in the journal Health Communication.

Over the past few years, natural skincare products have become popular. In fact, products that marketed themselves as “natural” generated more than $1 billion in sales in 2017, according to Nielsen. Some research shows that certain sunscreen ingredients seep into your bloodstream, which causes concern among consumers. This has forced worried consumers to bypass store-bought products completely and make their SPF using recipes found on social media sites like Pinterest.

About 95 percent of Pinterest sunscreen recipes claimed to protect your skin against harmful UV rays, according to the paper. However, nearly 70 percent of the recipes were ineffective at providing sun protection.

Making an effective SPF at home is virtually impossible, says Dr. Jennifer Stein, dermatologist at NYU Langone.

As a refresher, SPF measures how long you can stay in the sun before UV rays damage skin, compared to not wearing any protection. So, SPF 30 allows you to enjoy the sun 30 times longer than you could without any sunscreen. Since SPF is regulated by the Food & Drug Administration, companies need to show their products actually work.

“It’s hard to know what’s actually in the sunscreen unless it’s been tested,” Stein tells Men’s Health. “The bottle is going to be sitting outside in the heat, so it has to be stable at high temperatures. The sunscreen itself has to be stable in sunlight.”

Many ingredients break down when exposed to the sun’s high temperatures and light, making them ineffective, she says.

“When something is manufactured by a company that’s regulated by the FDA there are standards so that every bottle of sunscreen you buy should have that SPF.”

Of course, sunscreen is just one way to protect yourself from the sun. Stein advises seeking shade, and wearing hats and t-shirts at the beach–at the risk of getting color.

“There is no such thing as a safe tan,” she says.

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