DIY sunscreen doesn’t stand up to SPF scrutiny

DIY sunscreen doesn’t stand up to SPF scrutiny

Ahhh, summer. Time for some fun in the sun. But don’t forget to apply generous amounts of sunscreen to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays.

Recent consumer interest in all-natural products has led to an increase in homemade products, including sunscreen. University of North Florida researchers examined many of these do-it-yourself sunscreens — made from natural oils such as lavender, coconut or avocado oil, or balms made from shea butter or beeswax — and found they provide minimal protection, at best.

The study looked at DIY sunscreen ideas that have been saved or “repinned” on the popular social media site Pinterest. Using search terms “homemade sunscreen” and “natural sunscreen,” the researchers collected about 200 pins that positively portrayed the effectiveness of homemade sunscreens.

The study found, however, that almost all of these sunscreens had a Sun Protection Factor, or SPF, of between 1 and 7. In contrast, most sunscreens sold commercially are SPF 30, which blocks about 97 percent of the harmful rays.

It is difficult to make an all-natural sunscreen, the researchers noted, because these oils do not have the UVB-blocking ability of zinc oxide and titanium oxide, which are found in commercially made products.

Social media is a powerful tool, yet it can be dangerous when health information that is not accurate is put out for public consumption. In this case, the researchers found nearly half of the pins had been saved, some more than 21,000 times.

The takeaways? Before going out in the sun, use a reliable sunscreen. And before you take a chance on something that could adversely impact your health, do some more homework.

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