Pinterest homemade sunscreens: A recipe for sunburn

May 20, 2019

Social media and other online tools have changed the way people seek and share health information. Recent consumer interest in natural, organic, and ethically-made personal care products has led to an increase of shared recipes for homemade products including sunscreen. A new study conducted by researchers at the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital and the Brooks College of Health at University of North Florida examined how homemade sunscreens were portrayed on Pinterest.

The study, published today in Health Communication, found that nearly all (95%) pins, or bookmarks, for homemade sunscreen positively portrayed the effectiveness of homemade sunscreens and most (68%) recommended recipes for homemade sunscreens that 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. This is concerning because the ingredients recommended in homemade sunscreen pins offer minimal scientifically proven broad-spectrum protection from UV radiation yet are widely shared and promoted as safe alternatives to commercial sunscreens on Pinterest. The average number of saves for a pin was 808, with one pin being saved more than 21,700 times.

"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 Lara McKenzie, PhD, co-author of this study and principal investigator in the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's. "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." With rising skin cancer rates, the use of effective broadband sunscreen is critical to protect the skin from UV radiation and reduce incidence of skin cancer.

Just because you make it yourself or something is labeled as natural or has fewer ingredients doesn't necessarily mean it's safer. The best sunscreen is one that can be regularly applied and stay on the skin without causing irritation or other side effects, which usually depend on the child and the activity. It often takes a trial of several sunscreens before finding the one that does the job best for your family, even if that means everyone uses a different type of product. Here are some tips on how to protect your child's skin:
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The Center for Injury Research and Policy (CIRP) of The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital works globally to reduce injury-related pediatric death and disabilities. With innovative research at its core, CIRP works to continually improve the scientific understanding of the epidemiology, biomechanics, prevention, acute treatment, and rehabilitation of injuries. CIRP serves as a pioneer by translating cutting edge injury research into education, policy, and advances in clinical care. For related injury prevention materials or to learn more about CIRP, visit http://www.injurycenter.org.

Nationwide Children's Hospital

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