Researchers warn against homemade sunscreen
ISLAMABAD (Online): A quick Google search for the term “homemade sunscreen” will list about 9,750,000 results. Many are recipes for “natural,” “simple,” and “nontoxic” do-it-yourself (DIY) products.
The allure of DIY sunscreen is rooted in multiple factors, such as potentially lower costs and the belief that an all-natural cream made with handpicked ingredients is more healthful than a mass-produced sunscreen with an ingredient list that features chemicals with illegible names.
However, a new study warns that we shouldn’t trust the sunscreen recipes that we find online to yield a product that offers the protection we need against sunburn.
The study comes from a team of researchers from the Center for Injury Research and Policy at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital, in Columbus, OH, and the Brooks College of Health at the University of North Florida, in Jacksonville. Its findings will appear in the journal Health Communication.
“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,” warns study co-author Lara McKenzie, Ph.D.
Since social media are a top source, worldwide, when it comes to DIY products, the researchers turned their attention to one such website: Pinterest, a social platform that allows users to display moodboard-like digital collections of their interests.
Some data suggest that Pinterest is the fourth most popular social media platform in the United States, where the website had an estimated 77.4 million users in 2018.
In the current study, the researchers looked at how Pinterest users described and rated various recipes for homemade sunscreen. According to the researchers, this is the first ever study to look at the portrayal of DIY sunscreen on Pinterest.
They found that most — 95.2%, to be exact — of the saved posts (called “pins”) regarding DIY sunscreen suggested that the homemade products were effective, and 68.3% of the pins promoted DIY sunscreens that, the researchers say, did not ensure appropriate protection against ultraviolet (UV) radiation.
Moreover, the team noted that a third of the posts featuring recipes for homemade sunscreen claimed specific sun protection factor — rendered on commercial packaging as “SPF” — rankings, of anywhere from SPF 2–50.