• Professor warns about dangerous growing trend of using homemade sunscreen

    By: Courtney Cole , Action News Jax

    Updated:

    A local professor is warning people about the dangerous growing trend of using homemade sunscreen.

    Action News Jax reporter Courtney Cole explains the dangers and the tool people are using to find their sunscreen recipes.

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    Shelle Smith and Bonnie Evans always enjoy the chance to have a good beach day with the family, but they make sure they're wearing sunscreen.

    "I do 100% sunscreen,” Smith said.

    "I use a spray. I prefer spray. It's easy,” Evans told Cole. "And they make sure the children are wearing it, too."

    "I think the thicker the lotion, the better,” Smith said.


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    Dr. Julie Merten, PhD, master certified health education specialist and associate professor of public health at University of North Florida, said the sunscreen some people are using isn’t  necessarily coming from a store shelf anymore.

    Sometimes it comes right from their own kitchens.

    "That's what got us started on this. Heard a lot of chatter among moms and they were sharing these great recipes that they found on Pinterest for their sunscreen,” Merten said.

    Merten analyzed a number of posts last summer. “We looked on Pinterest. We sampled, put in homemade recipes and natural sunscreen recipes. We pulled up all the pins and sampled every fifth pin and we analyzed them to see what sort of recipes were being recommended,” Merten said.

    She told Action News Jax that 68% of the recipes didn't contain anything close to adequate ultraviolet protection.

    "The more we looked and analyzed, there was a really positive portrayal about these recipes... (and) not really a lot of information about the negative consequences,” Merten said.

    Merten said, if you're concerned about the chemicals in sunscreen, try using a mineral-based sunscreen that contains zinc oxide or titanium oxide, which provides a barrier to the sun but absorbs less into your skin.

    “Thirty-five percent (of the) recommended recipes (on Pinterest)  included Zinc Oxide. Zinc (Oxide) is kind of the Cadillac of sunscreen. But we don't know: Was it mixed properly? How much did they use? There were a lot of questions,” Merten said.

    Whether your sunscreen is natural or store bought, Merten suggests talking to your dermatologist or health care provider before putting anything on your skin.

    "This isn't one of those situations where you want to take the risk of making something yourself,” Merten said.

    The American Academy of Dermatology says to make sure your sunscreen has, "broad spectrum" so it will protect you from UVA and UVB rays, has a sun protection factor, of SPF, of 30 or higher and is water resistant.

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