Please please please please don’t make your own sunscreen!

Please please please please please don’t make your own sunscreen. I say this every year, and I’ll continue to say it this year. You simply can’t be sure that what you’ve made works, and if it fails, you risk sunburn, premature signs of aging, and possible future skin cancers. It’s not as easy as adding some titanium dioxide or zinc oxide to a lotion and calling it a sunscreen. There are tons of variables required to make a sunscreen, then test if it works. That’s why it’s classified as a drug in Canada, and we don’t make drugs at home.

The formulas you’re seeing for these products online aren’t written by chemists or science-y formulators because we know better. They’re written by lifestyle gurus, crunchy mamas, and those who use the word “chemical” to mean “bad. They cite the EWG and the David Suzuki Foundation. The posts they share contain all kinds of fear mongering, like calling things toxins.

If you try a homemade conditioner and you hate it, at worst you’ll have is a bad hair day. If you try a homemade sunscreen and it fails, you’re not just having a bad skin day, you’re at risk for serious burns, photo-aging and skin cancer. This is no laughing matter.

Not getting a burn isn’t proof it’s working. I see this all the time, someone notes they’re very pale and their homemade sunscreen worked for them.

Oh hey! Have I shown you my Sasquatch rock yet? It repels Sasquatches! We’re in Sasquatch country here, with the Sasquatch provincial park just up the road, yet I’ve never seen one lurking around my house, so clearly, it works. Do you doubt me? My Sasquatch rock was handed down from my grandmother, then my mother, now me. If it was good enough for them, it’s good enough for me, right?

I’m so pale, when we were on holiday in Liverpool, England – see the picture above or beside – an English woman commented I was “dead pale” and I suffered a sunburn while walking on the seaside in March in 17°C weather. Believe me when I say I know pale. But I don’t sunburn the second I leave the house as I might not be in direct sunlight, in the shade, covered up, and so on.

And I’ve burned already this year, riding my bike down by the river without sunscreen, and the high has only been 17˚C (62˚F). I put sunscreen on my face and décolletage, but forgot my arms!

Also, have I mentioned how much I love my bike? I’m kind of obsessed with it! 

Besides, sunburns aren’t the only risk. Premature wrinkling, age spots, uneven skin tone, and all those aspects of photo-aging are also increased by not using adequate sun protection. Rather than spending hundreds every month for anti-aging products, injections, Botox, facials, peels, etc., to repair damage, why not invest in a little inexpensive prevention? We have an actual, provable way to prevent cancer and all these things that go along with photo-aging, but we demonize it?

If you can read all of this and still want to make your own sunscreen, have at it. I’ve been beating this drum for thirteen years, and there isn’t an argument I haven’t heard. I’m sharing this with you as I want to spare you the heartache of the suffering that can come from using something that doesn’t work…

I know some of you are dying to write to me and tell me I’m wrong, that your sunscreen works for you, and so on. But there is no argument you can make that will support you making what is considered a drug at home. This isn’t as simple as making a lotion or conditioner. The worst thing that happens with those products is a little more dry skin or a bad hair day. We’re talking sunburn, premature aging, and skin cancer as the worst case scenarios for a poorly made homemade sunscreen.

I have to say this again: There is no argument you can make that justifies making your own sunscreen. I know this because over the last 13 years I think I’ve heard them all, and none of them are reasons to make a drug in your kitchen. (If you have, however, had the SPF of the product confirmed by a proper lab with the credentials to perform such tests, I’d entertain the argument.)

If you disagree with me, talk to my branch manager, Sasja! Look at how she’s handling that branch! 

If you’d like to read more on this topic, take a look at these links!

Please check out this post for more information on all kinds of things relating to sunscreen!

My post in 2018 on this topic…

My post on adding SPF to moisturizers (and why we shouldn’t do it)…


If you’d like to learn more about SPF, check out my column in Handmade Magazine!

And check out this post by Realize Beauty about her experiences with testing her sunscreens!

And check out this infographic from Compound Interest about the chemistry of sunscreens!

Check out this news story from CTV for information on not making homemade sunscreen…

And last year’s article from Gizmodo…

Have you heard bad things about using sunscreens? Are you worried about that study from 2018 saying there was sunscreen in our bloodstreams? Here are a few articles that might interest you…

And this article from Global Cosmetic Industry magazine, PASS Coalition Answers EWG’s Latest Sunscreen Attack

And this article from Cosmetics & Toiletries, Sunscreen Data Requests, Misperceptions and the Public Health Crisis

And another one from Cosmetics & Toiletries, Why the FDA’s ‘Sunscreens in the Bloodstream’ Study is Flawed

In case you’re wondering, that photo at the top is from New Brighton, Merseyside, England, where we travelled in March 2019. It was a perfect day, and we will be back there again when it’s safe to travel. Sigh…I miss Liverpool so much…