COLUMBUS, Ohio – Parents can find an endless supply of ideas and advice online, but as natural or homemade versions of children’s products gain popularity, experts warn that not all of these posts are as safe or effective as they claim to be. Do-it-yourself versions of safety-related products – anything from ointments and sunscreen to furniture and home “baby-proofing” – can pose a danger. A new study took a closer look at homemade sunscreen recipes on Pinterest and found that while nearly all of the pins portrayed some level of sun protection, there was insufficient proof that the sunscreens were effective.

“Many of the recipes listed specific SPF levels up to 50, yet the ingredients in the recipes are not scientifically proven to offer that kind of broad spectrum coverage,” said Lara McKenzie, PhD, principal investigator with the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and lead author of the study. “Store-bought sunscreen is a better choice because it is regulated by the FDA and must have a proven level of protection against both UVA and UVB rays.”

The study found that many homemade sunscreen recipes were shared thousands of times, highlighting the need for medical professionals to get involved with online health sources and social media sites to combat misinformation. “Parents often believe they’re doing the best thing for their child by making their own products at home,” said McKenzie. “But if you use a sunscreen that is ineffective, you are taking a risk, and that risk can result in a severe sunburn or skin cancer in the future.”

McKenzie urges parents to take the same caution with any federally-regulated product, and to consult their pediatrician with questions about the safest options. “These products are regulated for a reason, and DIY versions probably don’t meet the safety standards required by regulatory agencies,” she said. “Going online for things like crafts and recipes is fine, but when it comes to products such as sunscreen, I recommend buying something you know will be effective.”

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