Synthetic ingredients ain’t the monsters some people make them out to be. But, when it comes to synthetic UV filters, there’s no doubt a lot of them can cause irritations to a lot of people.
That’s why I switched to minerals, like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. They’re much gentler, and protect skin much better anyway. But, they’re not perfect either. They can feel quite thick and greasy on the skin, and can make it look whitish, too.
So, it’s no wonder that a lot of people are experimenting with natural oils and extracts for sun protection. You just need to do a quick internet search to be inundated with articles about why you should ditch the sunscreen in favour of coconut oil.
As tempting as it is, I beg you NOT to. Here’s why:
Natural oils and extract have a low SPF
I can see why people are trying out natural oils and extracts. Pretty much all of them have some antioxidant properties. Problem is, their SPF is really, really, really LOW.
How low? Well, scientists have calculated this, and the results are worrying:
Almond oil SPF 4.6
Castor oil SPF 5.1
Coconut oil SPF 7.1
Eucalyptus oil SPF 2.6
Green tea extract SPF 1.5
Lavender oil SPF 5.7
Olive oil SPF 7.5
Rose oil SPF 0.2
Sesame oil SPF 1.7
Tea tree oil SPF 1.7
White tea extract SPF 1.21
Coconut oil is indeed the best natural oil for sun protection, but even that doesn’t reach SPF 15, which is the minimum recommended by dermatologists!Natural oils can give sunscreens a helping hand and help treat sun damage. But they're not substitutes for sunscreensClick To Tweet
What If We Mix Natural Oils For Sun Protection?
There is no way that any single natural oil or extract can provide adequate sun protection and substitute sunscreen on its own. That’s wishful thinking.
But, what if we mix a bunch of them to reach SPF 30 or something?
Good luck with that. For starters, do you have any idea of how much coconut oil should you apply to reach SPF 7.1? Cos if you use too little, you’ll get a lot less protection.
Then, there are all the other things that go into making a good sunscreen to consider. Things like viscosity, absorption rate, rate of degradation (all sunscreen ingredients use effectiveness over time – that’s why you have to reapply them every few hours), etc…
Sure, you can experiment and hope you get the formula right. But, you’ll likely get a few sunburns in the process, and those damage skin real bad. It’s no secret, for example, that sunburns increase your chances of getting skin cancer.
Why risk it?
Natural Ingredients Aren’t Useless Against UV Rays
Even though natural oils and extracts don’t offer adequate protection against UV rays, they aren’t useless. Most of them have powerful antixodant properties that can soothe and treat sun damage.
For example, studies have shown that, thanks to its high content of polyphenols (a group of antioxidants), green tea can help reduce inflammation and redness caused by sun exposure, prevent UVB-induced oxidative stress (which can cause cancer) and the deplention of antioxidant enzymes.
That’s far from useless, don’t you think?
The Bottom Line
Natural oils and extracts can give sunscreens a helping hand and help treat sun damage. But, they’re not substitutes for sunscreen and should NEVER be used as such.
Have you ever been tempted to use natural ingredients for sun protection?