Making Your Own Sunscreen: How Do You Know That It Works?

Recently, in the comments to my DIY 20% Zinc Oxide Sunscreen Tutorial I linked to a blog called Point of Interest, which provides excellent advice on oils and bath and body formulation.  However, when I visited there recently I was surprised to find this note at the top of the page I had recommended.  The note reads:

 

If you’re reading this article from the link at Dempeaux, please do not make your own sunscreen! It is a dangerous thing to try because you have no guarantee that it will protect your skin, and this can lead to badness in the future. I will write more on this topic in the next few days, but I really want to discourage you from this process. Please do not make your own sunscreen!
You can also read the blogger’s ideas on why you shouldn’t make your own sunscreen here.

 

Now, as much as I like that blog and support freedom of speech, I do not support the spreading of misinformation, particularly when there is little to no clear evidence to back it up. So I wanted to share my thoughts with you on the matter.

Firstly, using Zinc Oxide in sunscreen provides the best sun protection you can get. Chemical sunscreen contain things like oxybenzone, avobenzone, octyl methoxycinnamate and so on, which absorb UV light, but the problem is that they also:

a) generate a whole lot of free radicals when sunlight hits them (which may cause skin damage and irritation, increase the risk of cancer as well as contribute to skin aging),
b) degrade when sunlight hits them, giving you about an hour of actual sun protection, and
c) are absorbed into the bloodstream leading to hormone disruption (oxybenzone is well known for doing this).

To read more on the issue of chemical sunscreens, read this or look up your favourite chemical sunscreen at EWG. However, as the chemicals needed for chemical sunscreen are so cheap, chemical sunscreens are generally much less expensive than good quality sunscreens containing Zinc Oxide.

Physical sunscreens, on the other hand, provide a physical barrier for the skin (hence the problem with the ‘white cast’) but last for longer, are much safer, and much more effective at actually blocking out the sun’s rays. Many have Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide as the actual ‘sun blocker’. Infact, some studies are even unimpressed with Titanium Dioxide, like this one, and overall Titanium Dioxide does not protect as well from UVA rays as Zinc Oxide (see this study and this one for further information).  Zinc Oxide has been shown to be the most effective at protecting your skin from the sun, so my preference is always for Zinc Oxide.  Zinc Oxide has also been shown to be anti-bacterial and anti-microbial in nature, so it’s fantastic for keeping acne under control too.

However, I believe the blogger’s problem was with the fact that I made the sunscreen myself.

When formulating, I work around active ingredients, or ingredients that are going to do most of the ‘heavy lifting’. For example, in a vitamin c serum, the vitamin c is the most important ingredient – the rest just adds ‘elegance’ to the serum. The same applies to the 20% Zinc Oxide sunscreen. The Zinc Oxide is the most important part, and the rest just binds it together and makes it comfortable and long lasting on the skin. To illustrate the point, I have read that some girls actually just powder their face with the Zinc Oxide in the morning (which I would NOT recommend, as breathing in the powder is a terrible health hazard) as it is the Zinc Oxide aspect of sunscreen that actually protects from the sun.  Thus, increasing the amount of Zinc Oxide increases the SPF of the product.

Now, onto the effectiveness of the DIY sunscreen, as opposed to store-bought products.

Let’s say, for example, you’ve weeded out all the chemical sunscreens, and you’ve happened on a wonderful array of physical sunscreens that contain Zinc Oxide (if you find this magical place, let me know).

Let’s say you pick up a tube of Badger 30+ Lightly Scented Sunscreen, which gets a great rating from EWG. What’s in it?

Well, it contains 18.75% Zinc Oxide as the active ingredient, and the rest is as follows:

*Olea Europaea (Extra Virgin Olive) Oil, *Cera Alba (Beeswax), *Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Oil, *Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Butter, *Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Essential Oil of *Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender), Tocopherol (Natural Vitamin E), and CO2 Extract of *Hippophae Rhamnoides (Seabuckthorn).

As I said before, everything else in the sunscreen is for the ‘elegance’ and the suitablity/ feel for your skin. There are some nice ingredients here, and I’m guessing they’ve added the Beeswax to give longevity to the product. Overall, very nice, and kind to the skin.

So let’s compare to mine:

20% Zinc Oxide

Apricot Kernel Oil, Sea Emollient, Distilled H2O, Vitamin E Acetate Powder, Glycerin, Lecithin Powder, Polysorbate 80, Grape Seed Extract.

Like the Badger, the focus is on natural ingredients, but mine contains 20% Zinc Oxide, and doesn’t leave the white cast on the skin that the Badger can.

Now let’s look at Marie Veronique Face Screen SPF 30+:

Active ingredient: 20% Zinc Oxide

Camellia sinensis (green& white tea), Simmondsia chinensis (jojoba oil), Prunus armeniaca (apricot kernel oil), Limnanthes alba (meadowfoam seed oil), Helianthus annuus (sunflower oil), emu oil, Tocopherol (Vitamin E), vegetable glycerin, Elaesis guineensis (red palm oil), Rubus idaeus (red raspberry seed oil), lecithin, potassium sorbate, allantoin, Cosmocil CQ*, xanthan gum, mica, Hippophae rhamnoides (sea buckthorn oil), Calodendrum Capense (yangu oil), Rosemarinus officinalis (rosemary oleoresin), pearl powder, Daucus carota (carrot seed) essential oil, Cistus incanus (cistus) essential oil, Lonicera japonica (honeysuckle), Helichrysum italicum (helichrysum) essential oil.

So the idea is the same. Marie Veronique uses 20% Zinc Oxide, and uses a variety of oils and thickners for the ‘elegance’ of the formulation. The main difference with this is that it’s more obvious on the skin than the DIY formulation and harder to reapply.

So, in answer to the question at the start of this post of “Making Your Own Sunscreen: How Do You Know That It Works?”, I have listed two examples here of sunscreen formulations that mimic my own. The amount of Zinc Oxide is more or less the same, and the rest of the ingredients are mixed according to how the company wants the sunscreen to feel on the skin. The crucial part of this formulation is the 20% Zinc Oxide, which has be proven to be the best sun protection ingredient we have. I favour my recipe because it disappears into the skin and doesn’t leave a white cast, but this is to do with the ‘elegance’ not with the sun protection. However, I am very confident that in wearing my DIY 20% Zinc Oxide sunscreen and reapplying every two hours, I will not get sunburnt.

Make sure you are equally confident in your sunscreen.

 


 

 

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49 Responses to Making Your Own Sunscreen: How Do You Know That It Works?

  1. Suzanne says:

    really want to try your sunscreen! I’ve had good experiences with the marie veronique, so I’m imagining it’s similar! I think it’s probably a matter of time before I cave and start DIYing…

  2. Jen W says:

    Great post Sarah! Thanks so much for putting all the hard evidence in front of us, especially since there is so much confusion and controversy surrounding the sunscreen issue.

  3. Dempeaux says:

    @Suzanne You should definitely try DIY! It really helps you tailor your skincare to what you really need. The sunscreen is fab :)

  4. Lilit says:

    Sarah, great post! I’m always envious of the likes of you and Jen W who DIY your own lotions and potions, and if you know what you’re doing (which you guys clearly do!) all the power to you. And thanks for putting all the hard facts here for all to see and judge for ourselves. Keep doing what you love. x

  5. ki. says:

    Great post :) I’m happy to see that you cleared everything up logically and in an easy to understand manner. And I definitely plan to try this sometime!

  6. Dempeaux says:

    @Lilit Thankyou so much!! You should give DIY a go – it’s so easy! :)

  7. Dempeaux says:

    @Ki Thankyou! And yes, I hope you give it a go. I think it would work really well on your skin :)

  8. Ling says:

    Most of that…I didn’t really understand…but I totally admire your work here on the blog and how you have evidence-based DIY stuff.

    As for the other blogger….”badness in the future”…??? Won’t say what I REALLY feel about that…but wtf?

  9. Ling says:

    …and I am going to jump on the DIY bandwagon soon and I’ll be bugging you with my neverending questions! Thanks Sarah – LOVE your blog…

  10. Dempeaux says:

    @Ling Perhaps make a coffee and read it at your leisure when you have more time ;) SO excited at the prospect of you starting DIY! Ask away! :D

  11. Pingback: DIY Sunscreen with 20% Zinc Oxide, 99.95% Natural | Dempeaux

  12. Nat says:

    Given my inherent laziness I could never be bothered to make my own, however I respect everyone’s right to. Great post Sarah (as usual).

  13. Dempeaux says:

    @Nat Haha! Thankyou :)

  14. Rin says:

    Did you know that sea buckthorn oil also has the ability to absorb harmful uv rays? Love that stuff! If I were to make my own, sea buckthorn would be the main carrier oil.

    Your sunscreen sounds ideal, would you ever sell it to those who were interested in it?

  15. Dempeaux says:

    @Rin This is true! Infact, if you add antioxidants to your sunscreen, they will also boost the sun protection of your sunscreen. Zinc Oxide remains the ‘heavy lifter’ though ;) I’m not planning on selling any time soon, but this is no problem because it’s so easy to make! :D

  16. Rin says:

    Where do you get the ingredients from? I don’t doubt you when you say it’s simple… However for someone who is as lazy as I am, it is just not feasible! :)

  17. Dempeaux says:

    @Rin Haha! I get most of my ingredients from http://stores.skinessentialactives.com/StoreFront.bok, oils from http://www.gardenofwisdom.com/home.html, and just a couple of things I can’t get from those two from http://www.lotioncrafter.com/

    One day! :)

  18. Steph says:

    Hi,

    I love your blog and the idea. Do you know what the shelf life would be on a batch of DIY sunscreen? Thanks!

  19. Dempeaux says:

    @Steph Thankyou! I’ve actually never tested it out fully, as I use up my sunscreen fairly quickly, but I would say about two months? Zinc Oxide is anti-bacterial, but if you want it to last a long time I would store it in the fridge just to be on the safe side :)

  20. cheryl beatty says:

    and have you had it tested? you are making a claim which throws it into the cosmetic products, which means there are rules that you must follow.

  21. I am writing this comment in response to your comment that I am spreading misinformation and not providing clear evidence. If you read my post as to why you shouldn’t make your own sunscreen, it has nothing to do with the efficacy of zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. (I encourage you to read the post again because my issue is never with the physical sun blockers.) They are both very effective, time tested, scientist proven physical sunscreens and they’re the ones I look for in my storebought sunscreens.

    My issue is with homemade sunscreen. It is considered a drug, not a cosmetic, and with drugs, we need to we have to prove that it works. You have no proof your sunscreen works, which can lead to possible health hazards and skin damage, like premature wrinkling or sun spots. (This is the “future badness” to which I refer in my original post. I thought it was more fun to write that than warn you again about the dangers of sun exposure!)

    Making a sunscreen isn’t as simple as adding zinc oxide or titanium dioxide to some lotion and calling it a sunscreen. Those physical blockers can be nullified by the emulsifier, for instance, or might fall to the bottom of the container and never make it to your skin. What’s the pH of your product? What’s your shelf life? What’s the actual SPF? To compare your product to commercial products to prove it works is inaccurate. The Veronique product could have a shelf life of up to a year. The anhydrous Badger product has a shelf life of at at least a year. Your product has a shelf life of maybe one week, possibly shorter.

    I’m not sure what your background is in chemistry or cosmetic chemistry or making your own bath and body products, but most very experienced formulators would never dream of making their own sunscreen without access to testing facilities. Ironically, the more experienced the formulator, the less likely they are to try to make a sunscreen because they know all the pitfalls that await them in making this kind of product. There is a good reason why there is an entire textbook on the chemistry of sunscreen – because there’s a ton of science and chemistry required to make a product that actually works. It really isn’t as simple as adding zinc oxide to lotion. If it were, I would make it all the time.

    I would love to have a conversation with you about this topic because I believe you have read the information I posted on my blog incorrectly. Again, my issue is not with the physical blockers – these are awesome sunscreens! – but with the making of sunscreen at home. If you wish to do it, then do it, but don’t share the idea with anyone else. There is no evidence that the product you have made will behave as a sunscreen, and to suggest that others use it is to put others at risk. This is where I take issue with what you have written.

  22. Judy says:

    I have wondered about the feasibility of making sunscreen. I am curious how your formula remains stable without an obvious preservative. I see you have antioxidants (vit. E and grape seed extract). Given that your sunscreen contains water, what do you do to inhibit growth of bacteria and mold?

  23. Mwsoaper says:

    Interesting. I do note one difference between your formula and the other two – yours contains water and should therefor have a preservative. Grape seed extract is an antioxidant, not a preservative. Also, by calling a cream ‘sunscreen’ or making a specific claim regarding SPF, it becomes a drug and should be scrutinized as such.

  24. zoe says:

    Making your own sunscreen for your use is fine–although not something I would ever do–you really have no way of being sure that it is effective without doing the kind of drug testing that costs lots of money. Comparing your formula with others on the market is not sufficient, and quoting the EWG doesn’t really convince.

    But you are publishing your formula and process on your blog–do you really feel comfortable knowing that people may use your untested formula? Skin cancer is not something to be taken lightly–and the main cause of it is severe sunburns in early life.

  25. Dempeaux says:

    Thanks for inviting all your friends to read my blog. It seems everyone’s on their soap box today.

    @zoe For the reasons I have outlined above, I am very comfortable showing people how to make this sunscreen. I live in Australia, which has huge amounts of sun all year ‘round (including winter) and I have found it to be extremely effective. It has 20% Zinc Oxide which provides excellent sun protection.

    @mwsoap Clearly you have not read my tutorial, because point 8 is all about the use of preservative in this product: “8. You may add a preservative, however it is not really necessary as Sea Emollient already contains 0.3% Phenoxyethanol. Zinc Oxide is also anti-fungal and anti-microbial in nature.” I don’t like to throw huge quantities of preservatives into my skincare where I don’t have to. If commercial companies want to put lots of preservatives into their products so that they will last a year or more on the shelf, that is their right.
    I am aware that Grape Seed Extract is not a preservative.

    @Judy Clearly you have not read my tutorial closely either. Step 8 deals exclusively with preservative.

    @Susan Barclay-Nichols You have clearly not worked much (or at all) with Zinc Oxide. It is not going to be eaten up by emulsifiers or sink to the bottom in such a viscous formula as the one I demonstrate. The Zinc Oxide is not going to mysteriously dissolve – it’s tenacious stuff. Can you show me some studies which analyse your Zinc Oxide-eating emulsifiers? You assume that only a cosmetic company can make a sunscreen, and I’m still not clear on why that is. Why do you think a cosmetic company and its “more experienced formulators” are going to adhere to the stipulations you have set out for a sunscreen? Do cosmetic companies *really* have your best interests at heart? I see retinol mixed in ‘day’ skincare all the time. That is a drug, and downright dangerous to wear out during the day, yet nothing is done to regulate that. The whole point of DIY is to *know* what is going into your products, ensure freshness, and maximum efficiency. I read *everything* I can get my hands on in terms of formulating, ingredient use/efficiency/ results etc why don’t you have the confidence to do the same?
    I have already made the points I want to make in the post above, but I still maintain that the Zinc Oxide is the important part, and the rest is for the ‘luxury’ of the sunscreen. This formula has 20% Zinc Oxide, which I am very comfortable with, and provides excellent sun protection. I have even noticed myself becoming paler since using it. On the point of preservation, clearly even you have not read my DIY tutorial thoroughly. See above, or see point 8 of the tutorial, which deals exclusively with preservation. On the point of sharing the recipe with others – I have full confidence in this recipe, and it is up to each reader to weight up whether they want to make this or not. I expect that they do the same with my vitamin c serums, cleansers, and so on. This is the nature of the DIY reader – freedom of choice.

    @cheryl beatty I’m not sure what these ‘rules’ are that you are talking about, but I don’t recommend any products that I DIY without first testing them extensively on myself.

  26. Jade says:

    Amen Sarah, excellent post the only reason why I’m not making my own is because I’m too darn lazy/busy, I currently use the Neal’s Yard one which I quite like but I’m yet to really test it’s performance under makeup and such :)

  27. Erica says:

    Looks like Susan’s sock-puppets are out in force today LOL

  28. Jen W says:

    Great points Sarah, everything you’ve said makes perfect sense.

  29. I don’t recall making any ad hominem attacks aimed at you or your readers – I wonder why you and your readers feel the need to make them at me? The comments on your blog in the last 24 hours probably come from a forum on which I posted a link to this post. I wanted to ensure that I wasn’t spreading misinformation – something you accused me of doing, going so far as to wish to curtail my freedom of speech. Obviously, there are formulators out there who are just as concerned as I am about the suggestion that one should make sunscreen at home.

    I would ask you to read my comment again and read this one at length before responding. I did not say that zinc oxide ate emulsifiers – I said that the emulsifier could nullify the efficacy of zinc oxide. I have never said that zinc oxide wasn’t an effective sun screen. I did say that there’s a chance your zinc oxide could sink to the bottom of the product – precipitate is always an issue when you add a powder to a liquid.

    I am providing you with four sources to support my position. Here is a link to the Zenitech presentation on making your own sunscreens. Emulsions & Sunscreen: An update and here’s a link to the textbook A Clinical Guide to Sunscreens. Here’s the scholarly article The effect of solvents on the ultraviolet absorbance of sunscreens and The importance of vehicle in formulating sunscreen and tanning preparations. I can provide you with more information, if you wish, but I do think this is adequate to show that making a sunscreen is something that is best left to cosmetic chemists with access to testing facilities. (I did not say only cosmetic companies can make a sunscreen – again, I implore you to re-read my comment.) I think these documents make it very clear that the zinc oxide isn’t the only vital ingredient. Choosing the right oils, emulsifiers, preservatives, and so on can have a huge impact on a sunscreen.

    I’m not going to argue your side point about whether cosmetic companies have our best interest at heart as it’s not relevant to the conversation, and I won’t dignify the idea that I’m not interested in reading literature about cosmetic chemistry because I think my blog, my e-books, and my reputation speak for themselves. You can attack me all you want – it says more about you than it does about me, and is intended to distract from the main issue, which is my argument that you should not be encouraging others to make sunscreen at home.

    I will ask you to provide evidence for your claims that your product works and hold you to the same standard you have held me. (Remember, anecdotes don’t constitute data!) How can you prove that your product works for every person who might try this recipe, regardless of skin type, region, and time of year? How can you ensure that if I follow your recipe correctly that I will have made a safe product that will protect my children, my family, the people I love from future skin cancer or premature wrinkling? Provide me with evidence that this product has a shelf life of over two weeks and prove to me that this product will protect my husband’s skin through hard data, not anecdotes or observation, and I will accept that your product is safe as a sun blocker. (I’ll define “protect my husband’s skin” to mean that after five days of being in the direct summer sunlight from 9 am to 9 pm – applying the product every 2 hours and after swimming – he does not have evidence of melanin production or sunburn in the areas protected by your sunscreen.)

    You can’t. No home crafter can. And that’s why we don’t make our own sunscreen. We don’t put the people we love at risk for health issues of any sort.

    And I disagree with you – it’s not up to each reader to decide to weigh up if they want to make this recipe! It’s up to the blog writer to ensure we aren’t putting out recipes that don’t work, might be dangerous, or don’t adhere to good manufacturing processes. Our readers come to us to learn more about this amazing science/art, and it is our duty to ensure that every single thing we post on our blogs are safe and well written. If we find something that isn’t, we need to revise it or take it down, and explain where we messed up! If I make a mistake, I admit it and correct the problem! I listen to my readers, I respond to their e-mails and comments because I care about them. I don’t want to be associated with anything that might be harmful to someone or a recipe that simply doesn’t work. I do my research and experimentation to ensure that every single recipe on my blog works well. I don’t suggest anyone make a product without preservatives, and I encourage the use of anti-oxidants. I’m not sure how you can feel comfortable putting the onus on your readers to make those decisions when they obviously trust you.

  30. It’s been just over 24 hours since I posted my last comment, and it’s still awaiting moderation. I’m wondering why that might be? I recognize you have a life and might have been out late last night after work or want to sleep in this morning, but I fear it’s just as likely because you’re censoring what I’ve written in some way or needed time to prepare your rebuttal.

    It’s your blog and you can post what you want, but I worry when I see people posting only things that make them or the blog look good. You’ve made it clear that you don’t believe in complete freedom of speech, but I’ve learned there’s great value in keeping an open mind and listening to dissenting opinions.

    In any case, if you don’t wish to continue the conversation here, I invite you to continue the conversation privately through e-mail.

  31. TallTayl says:

    I applaud a blogger that researches their material well and educates followers thoroughly. Casually skirting drug claims raises a pretty red flag. I’ve read both sides and fall somewhere in the middle.

    Whether or not a DIY preparation works as well as, or better than commercially prepared formulations is not the issue. There’s no question that in *some* cases the home formulation may work quite well or better than some readily available preparations. There’s no question that commercial developers are profit driven and may not have the interest in the end user 100% at heart when making ingredient choices.

    The issue is that commercially approved sun screen formulations have been through expen$ive lab testing where the SPF efficacy can be measured according to a published results scale. The test subjects are well compensated to be burned in a controlled laboratory setting in order to validate the claimed efficacy of the product. Those results may then be used if/when the company is involved in litigation for alleged damage to a customer seeking compensation.

    How many DIY’ers have access to that kind of testing? Flippantly telling people that it contains x% of something does not make it effective. Ingredients along with technique do make a difference in the final product.

    It doesn’t matter if your product is the best out there if it can not *prove* efficacy according to the most current accepted and published industry standard. If you’re serious about providing skin saving sunscreen to the public, then invest in a proper independent lab test for your formula. You’ll gain loads of credibility and shut the naysayers right up. It’s only a couple thousand dollars last time I was quoted. Cheap really.

    Making toiletries is fun, easy and can be profitable if done intelligently. Making and selling products legally considered a drug walks a fine line that my insurer will not be happy if crossed. It takes one law suit to turn a thriving business into a defunct business. Enough cases lead to more stringent regulation other formulators.

    That said, sure use it on yourself. If you end up with skin cancer, wrinkles or pimples (which you may or may not) then it’s on you. If others make products based on your writing, or purchase your product which has not been legally tested and end up with skin cancer, wrinkles or pimples (which they may or may not) you then may be held cuplable. It the risk worth the reward?

    My best sunscreen is to avoidance of the sun with secondary liberal application of clothing and hats while out in the bright sun. Works for me 100% of the time =)

  32. Dempeaux says:

    @Susan Errr…are you serious?
    *This* is your evidence?
    I provide you with recent, double blind, randomised studies carried out by independent scientists and you give me this? Someone’s Powerpoint presentation on emulsions with nothing to do with Zinc Oxide, a link to the cover of a book on Amazon, a paper on chemical sunscreens from 1987, and a lecture on chemical sunscreens from 1972? You do know that this conversation has been about Zinc Oxide, right? Did you even read the links to the studies I provided? And where is my study on “emulsifiers that could nullify the efficacy of zinc oxide”?
    So, in order to ensure you weren’t spreading misinformation, you misinformed your friends about the ingredients of my DIY sunscreen, and got them to troll my blog? The difference between you and I is that I have not asked anyone to comment on this post; infact, I have dissuaded them from it, as I know that my research is solid. You, however, are much less sure about your position, and seek others to validate your argument, which is bizarre.
    This sunscreen is safe and extremely effective for the reasons that I have already outlined in this post. My blog readers do not need to be lead by the nose in matters of science and intellectual curiosity, and they can decide for themselves whether they want to make this recipe or not.
    Yes, I will say that your reputation does speak for itself, and knowing your penchant for Latin phraseology, I shall suggest that you stick to reading PubMed studies ab initio in future.
    And by the way, I’m a PhD student, who is about to submit my PhD. Responding to misinformed comments on my blog does rank somewhere below that at the moment. Clearly you have a bit more spare time than I do.

  33. Dempeaux says:

    Wow, another friend of Susan’s who is passionate about sunscreen…
    @TallTayl Unless you can provide me with reasons why this sunscreen is ineffectual, I shall merely direct your attention to my original post and the studies referred to therein. As much as your ‘avoiding the sun for the rest of your life’ policy sounds tempting, I actually have things to do.

    And by the way, I don’t sell. The clue is in the title: DIY.

  34. TallTayl says:

    Not a friend of Susan’s at all. Just another reader that looks at how many silent readers take for granted all that they read online and think it is a good idea to jump into things that they are not qualified to make. Are you certain that none of your readers will make a sunscreen to sell because it is ‘easy’ and ‘effective’?

    Having read both sides of the debate, I think both sides are right and both are wrong to about the same degree. No need to get defensive. It’s common sense to mention the potential hazards of DIY. Heck, if you were Martha Stewart writing this blog post you’d get called out on it.

  35. Dempeaux says:

    @TallTayl You know, it’s amazing how all these people who are so passionately anti-DIY sunscreen find my blog…

    So if both sides are right and wrong to the same degree, and you have no information on, or knowledge of Zinc Oxide, why are you commenting? I’d suggest you read some actual scientific data and educate yourself, or else stick to critiquing Martha Stewart.

  36. TallTayl says:

    Why so defensive?

    My interest in the topic comes from the from the loved ones in my life lost to skin cancer. I too have a very full life that I intend to extend for as long as possible by making smart decisions.

    I have many friends and colleagues also members of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists that can refute or support just about any position you wish to take. I don’t feel the need to defend myself with endless links to appease your ego. It’s unnecessary.

    Until you’ve lost someone you love to such a seemingly benign health issue that is more or less preventable, you will never understand. Let’s hope you and your readers never have to face it.

  37. Dempeaux says:

    @TallTayl All the more reason not to comment here about it. Learn, then comment. Knowing people who know things, doesn’t actually mean that you’ve learnt by osmosis. Show me some research.

  38. TallTayl says:

    What makes you think I am not formally educated about the topic? Being immersed in the subject of skin cancer first-hand for the last two decades has provided me with more empirical evidence than a link or two on a blog. Pity you cannot see beyond needing to trade links to some study or another.

    Do your own research. Medical journals are readily available. Visit a hospital where skin cancer victims are being treated. Perhaps you may surprise yourself.

  39. Dempeaux says:

    @TallTayl What makes me think you’re not formally educated on the subject? Your lack of scientific data to back up anything that you are saying.

  40. TallTayl says:

    HIPAA prohibits links to the case files containing justification you desperately seek. An enforced NDA prevents my team’s independent findings from being published on a non-medical hobby site.

    Since you are flush with links and proof, I would like to see the technical data that indicates the rates of UVA and UVB protection for your formulation that would be reasonably expected by a home based chemist. Assuming the home DIY-er is skilled at creating a safe and stable emulsion, specifically which range of wavelengths is shielded, and what is the recommended application and reapplication rate to fully prevent the damaging effects of the sun to the base guidelines of accepted governing agencies for your location.

    If a parent were to apply this to a child, would it be considered reasonably ‘safe’ by medically approved standards, or would a well-meaning parent be causing harm to their child?

    Without painting ones self white with the basic paste, and not getting into the topic of nano particles which would venture into a discussion about transdermal migration of particulate material via stratum corneum penetration with or without surfactant assistance. Nanoparticles are causing worldwide concern to the medial community, especially regarding phototoxicity; also noteworthy as concerning is the documented fact that said particles can cross the human placenta. The safety of application to pregnant women and small children has not been proven.

    How well does a home formulation based on zinc oxide or titanium dioxide really work? How much is expected to be “sweated off” in the general course of activity within average heat and humidity ranges? Will the formulation prevent basal cell carcinoma? If using nano-sized particles to avoid the white look, how much will be adsorbed and inhaled by the formulator? Does it matter? Following simple, sensible published guidelines to limit exposure to the harmful rays will do more in the long run.

  41. Again, I’m quite honestly baffled by your response. The people who are posting in these comments are not arguing that zinc oxide isn’t an effective physical sunscreen – we all agree that it is – we are arguing that your product isn’t an effective sunscreen. The fact that zinc oxide is an effective sunscreen doesn’t not mean that including zinc oxide in a lotion makes it an effective sunscreen, and, by extension, including zinc oxide in your lotion makes it an effective sunscreen. Please allow me to repeat this as this point seems to be getting lost – we are not arguing about zinc oxide as a sunscreen. We are arguing that adding zinc oxide to a lotion does not make it a sunscreen, that adding zinc oxide to your lotion doesn’t make it a sunscreen, that you cannot prove that what you have made is an effective or safe sunscreen, and that promoting that this is a sunscreen on-line is dangerous. Those are our points, and for some inexplicable reason you are doing your best to ignore those points by attacking the people who question you, ignoring the evidence provided, and arguing a point that on which we can all agree.

    You cannot prove that your recipe will create an effective sunscreen by the level of evidence you require from me or anyone else. I’ve asked you a few times now to provide me with scientific, non-anecdotal evidence that your sunscreen works as a sunscreen and you ignore that request and refuse to address it. The burden of proof is upon you and until you can provide me with all that wonderful scientific data, you cannot call this product an effective sunscreen. To do so would make you all those things you’ve been calling the rest of us, and only a hypocrite demands holds others to a higher standard than she holds herself.

    Side note: If you take a moment to read the Powerpoint presentation from Zenitech on sunscreens and emulsions, you’ll see there’s an entire section in there about how the efficacy of zinc oxide is compromised when the wrong emulsification system is used. I mentioned this a while ago and you interpreted as the zinc oxide eating emulsifiers or emulsifiers eating zinc oxide or something like that.

    If you can sleep at night knowing that you are sharing a recipe that quite a number of extremely knowledgeable people have told you is dangerous, then have at it. If your readers look at these comments and are still comfortable making this recipe and using it on themselves and people they love, that’s up to them. But you aren’t right.

    You aren’t right if the only way you can “win” an argument is by ignoring evidence, attacking people personally, or refusing to address issues put to you time and time again. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – the stuff you’ve written in the past few days says a lot more about you than it does about those whom you have attacked personally. Your usage of the word “misinformed” and your questions about everyone’s education are both very telling…

    I’m glad that some links have been posted on this blog and in this thread for those who wish to find other resources to make safe and effective bath and body products! I am not trolling your blog – I actually came here to see what what written about my blog when I saw the link in my blog stats – I’m responding to your personal attacks upon me and your challenges. And no one else is trolling here either. I don’t know the people commenting in this thread – they are coming here based on a post I created on a forum – and you don’t either, so please stop attacking them. I am passionate about cosmetic chemistry, and my goal is to provide readers with safe, effective, well written recipes they will enjoy making. When I see something that isn’t safe, effective, or well written, I feel compelled to say something. So I did, as did others who feel the same way I do. If that means I’m spreading misinformation, well, I’d rather be accused of that than stay awake at night worrying that something I had written may have hurt somebody.

  42. Dempeaux says:

    @Susan This is utterly, utterly ridiculous. I have provided a detailed post and ensuing comments with references to excellent and recent scientific studies. You have provided nothing. Go and troll somewhere else.

  43. Elonora says:

    I think Dempaux is right.

    All these companies are out there to get our money, when really it is easy to make the exact same thing at home with the right ingredients.

    I think that it is easy to know if it works or not, since Dempaux has been using it on herself and she says that it works, what more do you need ??? Lab tests cost thousands of dollars and what will they prove more, that is not clearly shown already.

    Of course we all know that real skin damage can happen even if you do not actually get burned, but the only way to know that is to wait and see if it happens down the road. It’s not like the sunscreen companies can test for invisible damage anyhow right !

    More Power to you Dempaux, we should all be so empowered as to make our own choices and you help us by making good information and recipes available so that we are not stuck buying commercial stuff full of preservatives (as if some cream could hurt me, duhhh !) when all I want is natural goodness and no harmful chemicals to topper it !

  44. Thank you for posting this follow up Sarah and also for showing the comments it has generated. I appreciate being able to consider all of this when making up my own mind.

    The only point I would like to address is the one suggesting that you have responsibility if I choose to make this sunscreen recipe. In my opinion all you have done is shared your recipe and experiences. In no way have you suggested that my experience would be the same if i decided to make this recipe too and ultimately I have to take responsibility if I do choose to make it. I think any suggestion that you have any responsibility for what I choose to do with your post is wrong.

    As someone on twitter who asked specifically for you to share your recipe and experiences I also wanted to say thank you for sharing this with us. x

  45. Suzanne says:

    Yowsa, what a colossal pile of hysterics.

    Susan – it’s low to encourage trolling by posting this link across in the first place. The adult thing to do would have been to email Dempeaux directly if you had an issue.

    We are ALL grownups here – no one is coercing anyone into anything. Dempeaux posted this in the first place because her readers kindof bullied her into it. And obviously she isn’t selling what she makes, so the responsibility lies firmly on the shoulders of whoever chooses to make the stuff. And they go into it well informed.

    Ultimately I’m more likely to trust Sarah’s logic, credibility and research than I am either a.) a bunch of kneejerking reactionaries or b.) an alien company announcing that it passes a bunch of tests when proven “bad” substances are still allowed into skincare and suncare products.

    AND I’m done.

  46. Dempeaux says:

    @TallTayl This comment found its way into my spam folder.

    Why don’t you find out how safe your sunscreen is and get back to me, including links to current scientific studies. Thanks.

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