Jennifer Farley, aka JWoww from MTV's The Jersey Shore, is famous for her love of tanning. But this week, the former reality star made headlines for her recipe for DIY sunscreen (?!).
It all started when Farley posted a photo on Instagram of her infant son in the pool—which triggered some critical comments suggesting it was unsafe for the baby to be in the pool, and that he wasn't well enough protected from the sun.
The 30-year-old mom quickly clapped back: “Not even sure why I am even doing this but I feel like schooling people on my previous post. First off, my son is two months and in a salt water pool up to his belly… Probably for a total of three minutes.” Then Farley goes on to say (and with some not-so-nice words) that her little boy is wearing sunscreen she whipped up herself—a mix of coconut oil, carrot seed oil, and zinc oxide.
Farley even estimated the SPF of each ingredient. But is homemade sunscreen really a good idea, we wondered. And if so, are these the right ingredients to protect your skin from harmful UV rays?
According to Mary Gail Mercurio, MD, a professor in the department of dermatology at the University of Rochester Medical Center, Farley's concoction is, in theory, safe to use.
“From a dermatology stand point, this combination of ingredients is nothing that would be deemed harmful,” she explains. “What [Farley's] basically doing is taking [zinc oxide], something that is already used as a sunscreen, and adding oils to make it more spreadable. There’s nothing wrong with that.”
In fact, says Dr. Mercurio, whether you make your own sunscreen at home or purchase it at a drugstore is a matter of personal preference: “It’s like choosing between buying a head of lettuce to make a salad, or buying [salad] in a bag."
"What really determines if a product works is whether or not you get any color,” she points out.
Dr. Mercurio's one qualm? Farley's SPF claims. “The only way to know the SPF of a product is to do very elaborate testing in a laboratory," she says. "It’s not something one can determine in the privacy of their home.”
Regardless, Farley's recipe should offer some sun protection, says Dr. Mercurio: “We know that zinc oxide is used in common sunscreens on the market, so theoretically this combination of ingredients that she has put together appears to be safe, and likely to be effective.”
But to best shield your skin from UV rays, what you really need is a holistic protection strategy, Dr. Mercurio says, including sunscreen, protective clothing, and avoiding direct sunlight in the middle of the day.