Experts warn against 'homemade SPF' as viral TikTok trend could be 'dangerous'

Woman applying sunscreen
-Credit: (Image: Getty Images/Tetra images RF)

We all understand that when it comes to sun safety, SPF, or Sun Protection Factor, is essential.

The NHS underlines the importance with clear-cut advice: "Spend time in the shade between 11am and 3pm, never burn, cover up with suitable clothing and sunglasses, take extra care with children, and use at least factor 30 sunscreen".

Despite these guidelines, a recent TikTok craze has caused a stir, leaving followers baffled. Influencer Nara Smith took to the social media platform to demonstrate how she concocted her own SPF mixture.

In a video circulating on social media, which experts advise against imitating, she demonstrates combining coconut oil, beeswax, shea butter, and cocoa butter. Jojoba oil enters the mix before heating over a pot of boiling water.

After stirring in zinc oxide, she whips it up "for about a minute". Next, she chills the homemade concoction "to solidify", but specialists are quick to denounce the homemade SPF as risky and caution against mirroring her methods.

Gary Ellis, CE Safety's representative, expressed concern about such online trends: "It's very worrying to hear that viral videos are advising people on how to make their own sunscreen. You need to buy sunscreen from a reputable company, as the formulations are very complicated."

"Homemade solutions are dangerous as they could give you a false sense of security while not offering any protection."

Dr Dimitri Vichas, known as Dr Dimi, who runs Nottingham's Longevity Health Clinic Eudai, also voiced his concern: "As a doctor, this worries me. The notion that someone might be irresponsible enough to even suggest this on such a public platform is one thing but for it to be so popular raises questions about how influential these platforms can be."

He added, however: "That said, these are primarily entertainment platforms, not medical advice and I can understand the intrigue as the weather warms up but please, do not try this at home."

In a warning from Formula Botanica, they stated: "Even if they contain organic and inorganic natural ingredients such as Zinc oxide or Titanium dioxide or botanical seed oils with some sunscreen properties known to deflect or absorb the sun's harmful UVA/UVB rays, the formulation will not be proven as effective, safe nor stable."

The NHS has clarified the significance of using properly tested sunscreens. They note, "The sun protection factor, or SPF, is a measure of the amount of ultraviolet B radiation (UVB) protection.

"SPFs are rated on a scale of 2 to 50+ based on the level of protection they offer, with 50+ offering the strongest form of UV hull protection. The star rating measures the amount of ultraviolet A radiation (UVA) protection. You should see a star rating of up to 5 stars on UK sunscreens. The higher the star rating, the better."

"The letters "UVA" inside a circle is a European marking. This means the UVA protection is at least a third of the SPF value and meets EU recommendations. Sunscreens that offer both UVA and UVB protection are sometimes called broad spectrum."

Nara has been contacted for comment.