Saturday, March 12, 2011

Adding SPF to your moisturizers

I've been reviewing the questions and comments you've written since the start of the moisturizer section of the learning to formulate series, and one of the most common relates to how to turn our facial lotions into sunscreens. This makes sense to me because one of the best ways to avoid the look of aging is to use a sunscreen every single day, regardless of weather. (Click here and scroll down a bit for more information on photo-aging.) So how can we turn our lovely products into sunscreens?


Yes, I've written about this before here and here, but I feel the need to write a little more.

Sunscreens aren't cosmetics, they are drugs. And the one thing we don't make around here are drugs. We don't make anything with claims, and we don't make anything that could lead to future harm. I know people will say, "I'm only using it for myself," but I don't want to encourage others to make products that could lead to harm. We have no way of knowing what SPF we've made (and yes, I know there are charts out there that claim to give you information on how much of this leads to an SPF of that but they aren't accurate) and no way to know if we are safe. We have a way of knowing if the product doesn't work - we get horribly sun burned or end up with skin cancer - but no way of knowing if the product worked as you could have stayed in the shade, the sun might have been lower that day, or you just got lucky. Considering the short term impact of using a poor sunscreen - sunburn - and the long term impact - skin cancer - is it worth making your own? No.

I have a very good reason to make sunscreen. I've mentioned it before, but my lovely husband has vitiligo, so sunscreen is our constant companion all year 'round. A long weekend camping trip can cost us an extra $30 in sunscreen alone...but I won't consider making my own.

This is one of the reasons I rarely talk about the possible SPF offered by this or that oil. It's an illusion that we can use an oil with a very low SPF rating - 4 to 8 or so - as a sunscreen. Think about how little you're adding to a lotion, which works out to maybe 20% of your entire product, then think about how much you're putting on your body (about 10 ml or 2 teaspoons). It's simply not possible for 2 ml of oil to give you any realistic sun protection. Even in an anhydrous product made of 100% of that SPF containing oil, you're lucky if you put 20 ml on your body. You aren't going to get any significant level of protection.

If you are still gung ho about making your own, please read the comments in the two posts to which I linked because there is so much more that goes into figuring out how to make a sunscreen than adding a bit of titanium dioxide. I'll say it again - don't make your own sunscreen.

The goal of this blog is to share information that will help you make wonderful, luxurious, handmade products that make can your life, your skin, and your hair moister, more fragrance, and shiny. I don't want to help you make products that can harm you, which is why I encourage good manufacturing practices, the use of broad spectrum preservatives, and not to make your own sunscreen. Please!


Tara said...

This might be related, but I wanted to know if you are aware of any ingredients I can add to my hair products to protect from the sun. I know I should be wearing a a hat if I want to protect my hair from the sun, but I can't stand them, and I would like to prevent the orange-y tint I get at the end of every summer. I'd like to stay chocolatey brunette rather than pumpkin orange, without my hairdresser's help, if possible :)

Nancy Liedel said...

The thing about sunscreen is you can't quite figure it. 15% in your makeup, plus 15% in your moisturizer does not equal 30%. I know, it sounds stupid, but it's true. There are a lot of variables. You can make products for sale with sunscreen, but you better be prepared to pay a lot for the testing and re-testing for efficacy and then you have a series of stuff that has to go on the label. If your mmu supplier claims an SPF, but does not send a long sheet of information about it being an over the counter drug, it's probably not been tested. Never count on it. Even if it's tested it's like 15% and that is your minimum. I also don't trust oils to do it. Not without solid efficacy testing in a lab. A lot rely on the properties of the oil to tell you what is what, but that does not guarantee squat.

A natural sunscreen begins with a fashionable hat. Sorry Tara. It's smear your head with sunscreen, or wear a cute hat. I say we bring fashionable hats back. I love the hat and gloves to church days. I lived in a bit of an ivory tower community, but now I see fashionable women of all races dressing up again and darn it, I want to too.

To get the orange out, and this advice is free and you're getting what you pay for. Get the golden tones out of your color. There may be some conditioners with SPF, but I suspect they leave little in, if they are rinse out. I'll as my mom in law when she gets home from work. She's got her license and can tell me what she does, although I know she uses a rinse. You can play with natural rinses, but you're your own guinea pig there. I've tried Walnut, not so much.

Sânziene şi Mătrăgună said...

Susan, I've seen companies selling chemical UVA and UVB filters (as opposed to physical, ZnO and Ti2O, not as in "chemicals"=bad)

what do you think, should one try to make his/her own sunscreen by adding these filters to the product? For example, I have a great SPF45 moisturizer from Paula's choice and on the back of the lotion I can see the active ingredients listed there WITH the % used from each (of the chemical filters)

What is your thought on this? Would this be acceptable, or is it still dangerous?

I haven't bought any of the filters yet, mu budget is a mess, but boy this sounds SO tempting!! :-)))