Natural VS Synthetic Sunscreens
Rebecca Rathlef
Prince of Wales Secondary
Floor Location : J 174 H

People in our society value natural products over synthetic alternatives. One example of this is sunscreen, where you can find many recipes and stories for homemade sunblock. My project is an experiment testing the effectiveness of natural products as sunscreen. The oils I tested were coconut oil, red raspberry seed oil, carrot seed oil, almond oil, and shea butter, which sources claimed had a sun protection factor or SPF of between one and forty-eight. These sources, however had little to no resources backing them up. This had me quite skeptical, which is why I made my hypothesis "Natural products do not block ultraviolet rays as well as synthetic sunscreens." To test this hypothesis I developed an assay based on sun art paper, a UV reactive paper that changes colour in ultraviolet light. The areas that have been exposed to more UV have a darker colour post exposure, where areas with less exposure are lighter, meaning I could quantitatively measure brightness. From this experiment, I concluded that natural products do not block UV rays as well as synthetic products. These natural oils also were found to be quite unreliable, as the differences between tests were quite large. This means that we should be cautious about claims made for natural products, and not believe anything without doing our own research, or else we could be exposing ourselves to risks. In this case, those risks involve sunburn, premature skin aging, and increased risk of skin cancer.