Feeling the ‘burn’ from homemade sunscreen

Recipes on social media may not offer sufficient protection

Not that there’s been a lot of opportunities to use them just yet, there is concern about the use of homemade sunscreens.

Many such recipes are available on social media, such as Pinterest, but a study by the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and the Brooks College of Health at University of North Florida found 68 percent of these concoctions do not offer sufficient radiation protection.

Just because you make it yourself or something is labeled as natural or has fewer ingredients doesn’t necessarily mean it’s safer

“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.”

The study, published in Health Communication, suggests 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. Researchers note 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.

The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit offers this advice for protection from the sun:

  • Check the daily UV forecast. When the UV index is 3 or higher protect your skin as much as possible. Limit your time in the sun between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. when harmful UV rays are primarily present even on a cloudy day.
  • Cover up. Wear a wide-brimmed hat that shades the face, neck, and ears and light-coloured loose- fitting clothes covering as much of the body as possible (e.g. long-sleeved shirt and pants).
  • Use a “broad spectrum” “water resistant” sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Apply a generous amount to uncovered skin. Reapply after swimming, sweating or toweling off. Don’t forget a sunscreen lip balm. Look for a product with the Canadian Dermatology Association logo on it.
  • Sunscreen is not recommended for babies under the age of 6 months.
  • Seek shade or bring your own e.g. an umbrella.
  • Protect your eyes. Wear sunglasses or prescription eyeglasses with UV-protective lenses.
  • Avoid using tanning beds or deliberately trying to get a sun tan and avoid getting a sun burn. Remember no tan is a safe tan!
  • Use sources of vitamin D that are safer than exposing yourself to UV rays.

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