Don’t DIY your sunscreen

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.

You’re at risk for sunburn in the short term, but in the long term, you’re really at risk for skin cancer. That’s in part because there’s no way for you to test the effectiveness of the mixture. You can’t determine the SPF of the product, and you don’t even know if those ingredients have any kind of SPF protection.

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. Zinc oxide is found in many mineral-based sunscreens available on store shelves, but in tests of store-bought sunscreens, the ones that contain zinc oxide, 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 blistering sunburn can increase the risk of skin cancer by 50 percent.

To minimize harmful sun exposure, 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.

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 consumer.org.

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