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The Sunscreen You Should Never Use on Your Kid, According to Experts

Steer clear from this kind of sun lotion if you want to protect your kid from dangerous burns.
ByStephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
Published
May 2019
woman by the pool wearing sunscreen
Photo: iStock

DIY is the new trend in parenting. But just because you can DIY nursery decor, costumes and newborn photoshoots doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to make your own sunscreen at home, experts warn in a study.

“The internet is a great place for families to go to for recipe inspiration and arts and crafts projects, but not necessarily for making their own safety-related things,” says Lara McKenzie, PhD, co-author of the study and principal investigator at the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s. “Homemade sunscreen products are risky because they are not regulated or tested for efficacy like commercial sunscreens.”

While 95 percent of Pinterest pins for homemade sunscreen boast their effectiveness, 68 percent of the recipes for homemade sunscreen offered insufficient UV radiation protection. Claims on effectiveness were made in a third of all pins with a range of SPF 2 to SPF 50, but there was little scientific proof of the broad spectrum protection. On average, these recipes had about 808 pins, with one popular post saved more than 21,700 times.

The FDA has called on sunscreen manufacturers to update their guidelines and regulations for sunscreen. The agency addressed the safety of common sunscreen ingredients, as well as dosage forms, sun protection factor (SPF) and requirements. After the FDA ran tests on some of the ingredients, the verdict is still out on whether or not the ingredients actually pose a threat, but experts say you should keep applying recommended over-the-counter sunblock until told otherwise.

Everyone 6 months and older should be using FDA-approved sunscreen, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. (Parents should avoid exposing babies younger than 6 months to the sun’s rays.) Sunscreen should be:

  • Broad spectrum, which protects against UVA and UVB sun rays
  • SPF 30 or higher
  • Applied in a thick layer (about 1/4 teaspoon for a toddler’s face) about 30 minutes before heading outside and reapplied every two hours

Wondering what sunscreen you should be using on your little ones? Check out our list of top-rated sunscreens for babies and toddlers.

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