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Homemade Sunscreen Recipe ‘Should Be Avoided’, Dermatologists Warn


image ofSunscreen

In recent years, social media platforms like TikTok have become breeding grounds for DIY wellness trends. One such trend that has garnered significant attention is homemade sunscreen, particularly those made with zinc oxide. However, dermatologists are sounding the alarm, advising against these homemade solutions.

One prominent TikTok creator, Nara Smith, has become a notable figure in this trend. Smith, a South African model turned “trad wife” and content creator, is known for her DIY approach to everything from making Oreos to bubble gum from scratch. Her ethos is so deeply ingrained in DIY culture that she humorously announced her third pregnancy by saying she was “growing a human from scratch.” On June 25, Smith took her DIY skills into the wellness realm by posting a TikTok video where she formulated her own homemade sunscreen using everyday kitchen ingredients.

Smith’s video, which has already amassed 10 million views, features her and her husband, fellow model Lucky Blue Smith, combining, melting, and solidifying ingredients such as coconut oil, beeswax, shea butter, cocoa butter, jojoba oil, and zinc oxide powder. According to Smith, the homemade sunscreen was a success: “This went on so smooth and didn’t leave a white cast,” she said in the voiceover.

Despite its popularity on TikTok, where controversial wellness influencers often claim that chemical sunscreens are harmful and carcinogenic, skin-care experts strongly advise against making and using homemade sunscreen. Several dermatologists have debunked these claims, emphasizing the dangers of relying on DIY sunscreen recipes.

“DIY sunscreen should be avoided as there is no way to know how effective the formulation is and how much protection it will actually provide,” says Marisa Garshick, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City. “It may provide a false sense of security and leave someone susceptible to sunburn or potential irritation.”

Adarsh Vijay Mudgil, MD, another board-certified dermatologist and founder of Mudgil Dermatology in New York City, echoes this sentiment, calling DIY sunscreen a “terrible idea,” regardless of Smith’s claims about her recipe’s effectiveness. “Many things applied to the skin have some degree of SPF, including some of the ingredients Nara used. But these may be an SPF 2 or 3, not SPF 30, which is what I recommend my patients use—and ideally one with a mineral component like titanium or zinc,” Dr. Mudgil explains.

Dr. Mudgil’s final advice is clear and unequivocal: “Don’t do it! Purchase a reputable sunscreen that contains a minimum SPF 30 and includes a mineral ingredient like titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide. There are an infinite number of options available.”

In summary, while the allure of homemade sunscreen recipes might be strong, particularly with influencers like Nara Smith popularizing them on platforms like TikTok, dermatologists unanimously advise against them. The effectiveness of homemade sunscreen with zinc oxide cannot be guaranteed, and the potential risks far outweigh any perceived benefits. For adequate sun protection, it is crucial to use commercially available sunscreens that have been rigorously tested and meet established safety standards.

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