Consumer Reports explores dangers of do-it-yourself 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 have no quality control.  You can't determine what the SPF of the product is.  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.

While Zinc oxide is found in many mineral-based sunscreens available on store shelves, but in CR tests of store-bought sunscreens, the one's that contain zinc oxide or titanium dioxide or both as active ingredients have been consistently found to be less effective than those that contain the chemical active ingredients.

And 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.

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