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Warning issued over homemade sunscreens

Cover Media logo Cover Media 20/05/2019
a person in a pool of water © Provided by Cover Media Ltd

Homemade sunscreens are a recipe for sunburn, researchers warn.

With an ongoing interest in natural, organic, and ethically made personal care products in recent years, there has been an increase of recipes for homemade products including sunscreen online.

However, experts at the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital and the Brooks College of Health at the University of North Florida have now urged parents to consider avoiding using or making homemade sunscreens as published on websites like Pinterest.

"The internet is a great place for families to go to for recipe inspiration and arts and crafts projects, but not necessarily for making their own safety-related things," said study co-leader Dr. Lara McKenzie. "Homemade sunscreen products are risky because they are not regulated or tested for efficacy like commercial sunscreens. When you make it yourself, you don't know if it's safe or effective."

The investigators found that nearly all pins or bookmarks for homemade sunscreen positively portrayed the effectiveness of such products, yet 68 per cent of recommended recipes offered insufficient UV radiation protection. Sun Protection Factor (SPF) claims were made in a third of pins with a range of SPF 2 to SPF 50.

In light of the findings, the researchers advised parents to trial several commercial sunscreens before deciding what does the best job for you and your family. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends people use FDA-approved sunscreen which is broad spectrum to protect against UVA and UVB sunrays, water-resistant, and has an SPF of 30 or higher. Officials state that sunscreen should be worn early and often, with a thick layer (about a quarter of a teaspoon for a toddler's face), applied 30 minutes before heading outside and reapplied every two hours. If children are swimming or sweating a lot, reapply sunscreen more often and use a water-resistant formula.

Full study results have been published in Health Communication.

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