Are DIY Sunscreens Dangerous?

By | May 22, 2019

TUESDAY, May 21, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Interest in homemade sunscreens is hot, but many of these do-it-yourself brews lack effective sun protection, a new study warns.

Researchers found that only about one-third of homemade sunscreens on the popular information-sharing website Pinterest specified how much sun protection factor (SPF) each “natural” sunblock contained. In some cases, SPF content dipped as low as 2 — far below recommended guidelines for preventing premature aging and skin cancer.

Overall, about seven out of 10 sunscreen recipes failed to adequately protect skin from dangerous ultraviolet (UV) rays, the study authors found.

“It is a great sign that consumers are paying attention to what is in their products,” said study author Julie Merten. She is an associate professor with the University of North Florida’s Brooks College of Health.

But she and her colleagues are cautioning do-it-yourselfers to be mindful that if “they do use Pinterest to make their own sunscreen, to be sure it is a formula that offers true broadband protection.”

Unlike commercial sunscreens, the Pinterest recipes aren’t tested or regulated, and could cause harm, Merten and others said.

Merten acknowledged there are “legitimate concerns” about some commercial sunscreens, including reef habitat destruction and hormone-disrupting chemicals. These “align with a societal shift toward more natural and organic products,” she noted.

Recently, a study from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), raised concerns regarding four common commercial-sunscreen chemicals: oxybenzone, avobenzone, octocrylene and ecamsule.

All four chemicals were found to have entered the users’ bloodstreams at levels far exceeding U.S. Food and Drug Administration safety thresholds.

Still, the UCSF study team did not conclude that anyone’s health was at risk. And some experts believe any concerns that might be raised are outweighed by the anti-cancer and anti-aging benefits of FDA-approved sunscreens.

One of those experts is Dr. Steven Wang, director of dermatology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, in Basking Ridge, N.J.

“There’s tons of scientific data that sunscreen with SPF of at least 15 reduces the risk for both melanomas and squamous cell cancer, and prevents wrinkles and pigmentation. That’s the benefit,” said Wang.

WebMD Health