15-year-old Kaycee Deery, a resident of Londonderry, UK, has been awarded the prestigious title of Young Scientist of the Year for her groundbreaking creation—an eco-friendly sunscreen. The innovative product developed by Deery avoids the use of harmful chemicals commonly found in traditional sunscreens, which can cause significant damage to the environment.
Deery’s journey began with her construction of a UVA lightbox at home, allowing her to conduct experiments on various natural oils. Her aim was to find oils that could provide effective skin protection without the need for toxic additives. Inspired by reports of eco-damaging chemicals present in commercial sunscreens polluting the UK’s water systems, she was determined to find a more sustainable solution.
Expressing her surprise and gratitude for the recognition, Deery humbly shared her thoughts on the BBC Radio Foyle’s Mark Patterson Show, stating, “I’m still in shock… I don’t think it has sunk in yet, and I don’t think it will for a while.”
Driven by her passion for environmental conservation, Deery successfully formulated a range of natural sunscreens with UVA protection, derived from naturally occurring oils. Through rigorous testing in her homemade lightbox, she achieved varying levels of sun protection, ranging from SPF9 to SPF34.
Looking ahead, Deery plans to expand her research to incorporate UVB protection, which will further safeguard the skin against burns and the increased risk of skin cancer. Her determination to develop safe and effective sunscreen alternatives is a testament to her commitment to preserving marine life and coral reefs, which are adversely affected by the chemicals present in conventional sunscreens.
Deery’s accomplishment aligns with the recommendations of the Skin Cancer Foundation, emphasizing the importance of applying sunscreen correctly. The foundation advises using approximately two milligrams of sunscreen per square centimeter of skin to achieve the labeled Sun Protection Factor (SPF). Additionally, it suggests reapplying sunscreen every two hours, after swimming or heavy perspiration, and opting for products labeled “broad spectrum” to ensure protection against both UVA and UVB rays.
As the UK celebrates the remarkable achievement of a 15-year-old eco-warrior, Kaycee Deery’s groundbreaking sunscreen serves as a shining example of the power of youthful ingenuity in creating sustainable solutions for a better future.