More threads by David Baxter PhD

David Baxter PhD

Late Founder
Homemade, natural sunscreens may leave you risking a burn
CBC News
May 21, 2019

Consumer interest has led to more shared recipes for homemade sunscreen that isn't tested

Homemade sunscreens on Pinterest may look pretty and smell even prettier, but most of them won't shield you from sunburn or skin cancer, new research shows.

"Ninety-five per cent of the pins really positively portrayed the effectiveness of homemade sunscreens, yet about 65 per cent were recommending recipes that offered insufficient ultraviolet radiation protection," Dr. Julie Merten of the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, the lead author of the new study, told Reuters Health by phone.

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation exposure from the sun and from indoor tanning is by far the leading cause of skin cancer, which will affect 20 per cent of Americans at some point in their lives, Merten and her team note in a report released by the journal Health Communication. Sunscreen helps prevent sunburn, and regular use reduces skin cancer risk.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has tested and approved 17 active sunscreen ingredients, but concerns ranging from coral reef damage to hormone disruption have led many people to search for alternatives. Canadians are advised to choose a sunscreen that is water resistant with an SPF of at least 30.

Merten and her colleagues analyzed a sample of 189 pins mentioning homemade or natural sunscreen.

Coconut oil was the most common ingredient. Many recipes also featured lavender oil, raspberry oil, shea butter or beeswax. Sixty-three of the pins claimed a specific sun protection factor (SPF) number, ranging from 2 to 50.


Coconut oil was the most common ingredient in the homemade or natural sunscreens tested. (Shutterstock)

"This is concerning, because the ingredients recommended in homemade sunscreen pins offer minimal scientifically proven broad-spectrum protection from UV radiation yet are widely shared and promoted as safe alternatives to commercial sunscreens on Pinterest," Merten said.

"Homemade sunscreen products are risky because they are not regulated or tested for efficacy like commercial sunscreens. When you make it yourself, you don't know if it's safe or effective," she added. "With rising skin cancer rates, the use of effective broadband sunscreen is critical to protect the skin from UV radiation and reduce incidence of skin cancer."

"As public health professionals, [we advise people to use] a commercial sunscreen, and if you're concerned about the chemical piece go for a mineral sunscreen such as zinc oxide," she said.

Dr. David Leffell, a professor of dermatology and surgery at Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn., reviewed the study for Reuters Health.

"I would not encourage anyone to make their own sunscreen," he said by phone. "Sunscreen formulation is actually quite complex. Despite concerns about various ingredients that come up, they are proven to be effective."

"I think it's part of an overall trend in health care of self-diagnosis and self-treatment," Leffell added. "It's not going to change, but I would think that after someone has a bad sunburn after using their homemade beeswax formulation they will get smarter."

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using a water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 that is broad spectrum, meaning it protects against both UVA and UVB.


Well things have changed to the point where only mega corporations can afford the cost of getting products approved.

There have been a few "Garage Startups" that became famous and filthy rich. This one probably wins the prize for how he started and for the highest ROI for $500 dollars. There is no way you could do any of these things today.

Hawaiian Tropic

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Hawaiian Tropic is an American brand of suntan lotion sold around the world, but more widely available in the United States.
The company was founded by Ron Rice in 1969. With a $500 loan from his father, he mixed the first batch in a metal trash can and bottled it from his home garage in Murray, Kentucky. After rapid success, he became the largest private manufacturer of sun care products in the United States until being acquired in May 2007 by Playtex Products, Inc. When combined with Playtex's other brand of sun care, Banana Boat, Playtex is the largest manufacturer of sun care products in the Western Hemisphere. Shortly after purchasing Hawaiian Tropic, Playtex Products was purchased by Energizer Holdings Inc. in a deal valued at $1.9 billion.


David Baxter PhD

Late Founder
Perhaps. But many of these homemade lotions, as mentioned in the news item, contain products that are known to be ineffective as sunscreens.

Even the fact that people are apparently claiming an SPF of 2 (!) seems appalling to me. That isn't going to protect anyone against the harmful effects of UV rays.

But the more alarming issue is how people are increasingly taking advice from non-professionals on social media instead of real medical professionals. This has already killed some people. How many more need to die before this sort of thing is banned from social media the way they are now starting to ban hate groups?


I don't think it has changed in anyway over centuries it not since the dawn of man. I beleive it's just that with mass media and wordwide communications with less than 100ms latency and the 30 second news cycle of modern times just puts this stuff in our faces everyday in flashes.

Snake oil salesman were probably allready in business back in the caveman days.

And I won't even start on Grandma's candle under a glass to suck out pneumonia (or the mustard on the chest) and on and on miracle remedies that have been going around for centuries. Nothing new, just the news just goes around the world in a flash.

David Baxter PhD

Late Founder
But most of those quack remedies existed because modern evidence-based medicine didn't yet exist.

When you have no cure for whatever ails you because none exists, I can't fault people for trying snake oil. What do you have to lose?

But when there are validated treatments and vaccines available that we know work, I really do not understand why some people seem to prefer quackery. That's just craziness.


I totally agree but unforunately there's a reson it's big money. human nature is still primitive in thinking. And the 2 concepts 1$ vs 50$ and it's natural and it works thinking and we've been doing it for ages (even if it doesn't work and is dangerous) is programmed into people's minds from when they were little. Then factor in gullibility and naivity and other weak human attributes and you get two things:

1 - People that will take and take it the way they beleive it works best even if you give them all the facts and proof that's it's dangerous to take this or that and especially above the recommended doses.

2 - Constantly frustrated when you waste your time and breath talking about anything with factual evidence to an otherwise convinced brick wall.

You could tell a person to get out of the way a piano is going to fall on their head as you watch it fling from the balcony 10 stories up and you might hear "that's not possibkle. I just saw my fortune teller and she told me I was going to live to be 95". "Did she mention it might be on artificial life support?" :facepalm:
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