700 Children's® – A Blog by Pediatric Experts

DIY? Homemade Sunscreen May Not Be as Safe as Parents Think

May 21, 2019
Pinterest Sunscreen

I love perusing Pinterest to find a craft project to keep my kids entertained, birthday party ideas, gifts ideas or home decorating projects. I use Pinterest and other websites as inspiration for recipes and fashion too. The one thing I won’t use it for? Safety-related projects or so-called “safety hacks.”

When it comes to products we use to keep our family safe, I’m adamant about only using items that meet federal safety regulations. When my kids were younger, that meant checking www.recalls.gov before purchasing their cribs, car seats, highchairs, and other products that kept them safe and secure.

Now that they’re older, I make sure they have appropriate safety equipment for activities in which they’re involved. That means checking that their bike helmets are certified, fit properly and worn on every scooter ride. Same with shin guards for soccer and knee pads for volleyball.

The latest trend I’ve observed through our research is homemade sunscreen. I understand that many parents want to use natural, organic, vegan or homemade products. They don’t want to pump their kids full of sugar or artificial colors or flavors and that’s fine. But, when it comes to protecting your kids’ (and your) skin, it’s important to use regulated, commercially available sunscreen.

Sunscreen you buy at a store or online retailer is tested and FDA-approved to ensure it protects skin from ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B (UVA and UVB) rays. Its sun protection factor (SPF) and water/sweat resistance is also tested. Sunscreen made at home will not be tested, is not regulated, and may offer a false sense of skin protection.

While your intention is to protect your kids’ skin, the recipes you find online and make at home may leave skin vulnerable to UVA and/or UVB rays - your kids may be more likely to get sunburned. Even if a recipe you find online for sunscreen makes claims about a level of SPF or water/sweat resistance, it’s highly unlikely those claims are accurate or those recipes have been scientifically tested.

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that everyone 6 months and older wear sunscreen. Make sure the sunscreen has these characteristics:

  • Broad spectrum, which protects against UVA and UVB sunrays
  • Water-resistant (effective for up to 40 minutes in water) or very water resistant (effective for up to 80 minutes in water)
  • SPF of 30 or higher

For more sunscreen and sun safety tips, click here.

Featured Expert

Nationwide Children's Hospital Medical Professional
Lara McKenzie, PhD, MA
Center for Injury Research and Policy

Lara B. McKenzie, PhD, is a principal investigator in the Center for Injury Research and Policy at the Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital and an associate professor in the Department of Pediatrics, College of Medicine and the Division of Epidemiology, College of Public Health at The Ohio State University. 

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700 Children’s® features the most current pediatric health care information and research from our pediatric experts – physicians and specialists who have seen it all. Many of them are parents and bring a special understanding to what our patients and families experience. If you have a child – or care for a child – 700 Children’s was created especially for you.