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Homemade sunscreens are often not the safe alternatives they claim to be

Homemade sunscreens are often not the safe alternatives they claim to be. A new study led by the Nationwide Children’s Hospital has demonstrated that the way people find and share health information has been transformed by social media and other online resources, and this is not always a good thing. Consumer interest in natural and ethically-made personal care products has created a demand for homemade recipes for various products such as sunscreen.

The research, which also involved experts at the University of North Florida, was focused on how homemade sunscreens are perceived on Pinterest. The researchers found that while nearly all the pins for sunscreen recipes were portrayed positively, 68 percent of the concoctions offered insufficient UV radiation protection.

The average number of saves for a homemade sunscreen pin was 808, with one pin being saved more than 21,700 times. However, the Sun Protection Factor (SPF) claims are largely unsubstantiated, and most of the sunscreens are not safe alternatives for commercial products.

“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-author 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.”

Skin cancer rates are on the rise, and  effective broadband sunscreen is critical for protecting the skin from UV radiation.

According to the study authors, the best sunscreen is FDA-approved and water-resistant with an SPF of 30 or higher.  The researchers also pointed out that children whose parents regularly apply sunscreen at an early age are more likely to continue using sunscreen as teenagers and adults.

The study is published in the journal Health Communication.

By Chrissy Sexton, Staff Writer

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