An analysis of Pininterest reveals that over 68% of the recommended recipes for homemade sunscreens offer insufficient ultraviolet radiation protection

In May 2019 researchers from the USA published the results of their study to assess homemade sunscreens on social media, specifically Pinterest, which has over 175 million users. Recent interest in natural products has led to an increase in the number of shared recipes for homemade products, including sunscreens, which is risky as homemade sunscreens are not regulated or tested prior to marketing for their effectiveness or safety, unlike commercial sunscreens. The researchers stated that with rising skin cancer rates, the use of effective broadband sunscreen is critical to reduce incidence of skin cancer. Pininterest was searched using “homemade sunscreen” and “natural sunscreen” as the search criteria, and researchers sampled every fifth pin to collect 189 relevant pins. Of the 189 pins, over 95% positively described the effectiveness of their homemade sunscreens. However, just over 68% of the reviewed recommended recipes for homemade sunscreens offered insufficient ultraviolet radiation protection. Sun Protection Factor claims were made in 33% of pins with a range of SPF 2 to SPF 50 and it was noted that 42% of these pins had been saved by other users ranging from once to more than 21,000 times. The researchers concluded that their study highlighted widespread consumer interest in homemade recipes for sunscreen and the acceptance of insufficient sun protection information.

Merten JW et al. Pinterest Homemade Sunscreens: A Recipe for Sunburn. Health Commun. 2019 May 21:1-6. [Epub ahead of print]

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