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DIY sunscreen

We’re researching an article on DIY sunscreen and we’re interested to hear from anyone who’s tried to make sunscreen themselves. We’d love to find out how it went - what were the results, how did you make it and any other experiences you are willing to share.

Please leave a comment below or get in touch at community@choice.com.au.

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Spending a good deal of time outdoors/in the sun, I personally wouldn’t make my own based on a ‘internet’ or ‘natural’ type recipes. While these could have some SPF, it would be impossible to know the actual SPF unless it is formally tested. I would much prefer to use known, reputable brands where SPF has been subject to testing and quality is known.

I also think that not knowing the SPF is a recipe for long term skin problems, which is why SPF sunscreen is worn in the first place.

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I also see that one of Choice’s US cousins did a report on DIY sunscreens earlier this year. The news in the article is not positive for the DIYers…

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Just ‘essential’ oils eh… so essentially it’s just basting yourself, like when you put oil on something in the oven to make it go brown during cooking.

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We just used Zinc cream (zinc & castor oil), works well on the nose, ears, and lips…very white and sticky.

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Of necessity (I have developed an allergy to one of the most used preservatives in sunscreen) I have opted for powdered titanium dioxide.
I buy this from the USA (could not find a source here) and use a large make up brush to apply. I do this outside, as the powder is difficult to remove from the floor. It is also quite difficult to remove from me. Cycling,hiking and other exercise sweat does not remove this (read gardening and shoveling mulch). I have to use a soaped up scrubbing brush or rough flannel to get it off my skin.
I love this stuff. It is non-nano. It seems impervious to sweat. It is not sticky the way lotions are and I absolutely do not burn. And as I have a tendency to burn blisters, in a very short space of time (fair skin) I am thrilled. And the 1kg bag I bought seems to be lasting forever.
Another bonus is that it is not a sensitive to being stored in heat - I can shove a jar in the car, as there are no carrier oils to go off and change the composition.

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Have you tried Zinc oxide? Easily available in Australia and maybe less expensive. Zn0 is used extensively in ceramics and sunscreens, and also as a food additive.

Titanium dioxide is also used in sunscreens, but according to Wikipedia:

TiO2 has been flagged as possibly carcinogenic. In 2019, it was present in two thirds of toothpastes on the French market. Bruno Le Maire, a minister in the Edouard Philippe government, promised in March 2019 to remove it from that and other alimentary uses.

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There is also now proof that what they thought regarding the non-allergenic properties of Titanium isn’t correct and as more people are exposed to it rates of Ti allergy are increasing.

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DIY sunscreens are becoming increasingly popular. While some ingredients seem safe for most people, they aren’t actually protecting you from UV radiation.

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There’s a bit of an issue with the graphs in that article, as they are not directly comparable, and IMO, a conclusion is misleading.

In graph 1, Mean Absorbence on the Y axis shows that the regular SPF50 is in the order of 10 times more effective than DIY. The Y axis scale is log to the base 10, 1.00=1, 2.00=10, 3.00=1000 times more absorbence, or less transmittance.

This is a bit misleading: “As the chart shows, the homemade version has about half the absorbance of the commercial product.”

How many people know that absorbence is a log scale? I suspect most would think it was about half as good from that statement.

In the 2nd graph, it should be noted that SPF 10 is equivalent to an absorbence of 1.0, ie 90% blocked, 10% transmitted.
SPF 100 would be an absorbence of 2.0, or 99% blocked.
However, this is strongly dependent on how thickly the sunscreen is applied.

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Thanks for pointing that out @gordon. I’ll pass this on to the team.

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Hi,

I meant to reply to this topic earlier but forgot about it.
I’ve played with sunscreens about 10 years ago
I am an industrial chemist and was asked to formulate a sunscreen solution to be applied by wet wipes.

I’ll reply in more detail in the next few days but in general, the physical properties of sunscreen ( absorbance ) do not correlate to the SPF value.

The test method for gaining SPF value is to see how long a person is capable of lasting in the sun before they get reddening / sunburn / erythema of the skin … an " In Vivo " test procedure.

This is one article on the test procedure I just Googled
https://www.miamiherald.com/living/health-fitness/skin-deep/article209007999.html

In order to reduce sunburn , manufacturers also use ingredients that reduce skin reddening / erythema such as moisturisers and anti inflammatories. To get water proof claims, they add ingredients that stick to the skin and are hard to remove without soap / detergent.

Because of this, it is practically impossible to do a physical / in-lab spectrophotometer test and predict / correlate a SPF value.