It’s tempting to use coconut oil & co as sunscreen.
Natural UV filters, like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, can leave an unattractive white cast behind.
Synthetic UV filters can cause irritations, especially if you have sensitive skin.
Some of you may even be allergic to sunscreen and get a bad rash every time you dare put it on.
It’s no wonder natural alternatives like coconut oil are getting more popular. They’s natural, for crying out loud. Doesn’t that alone make them safer?
Nope. When it comes to sunscreen, natural WON’T cut it. Here’s why:
Do Natural Oils And Extracts Provide Adequate Sun Protection?
In theory, using natural oils and extracts as sunscreen makes sense. Pretty much all of them have some photoprotective properties that keep the plant safe from UV harm.
Problem is, their SPF is really, really, really LOW.
We’re talking way lower than 15, the minimum recommended:
- 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 is barely half the recommended amount!
Related: Can You Use Coconut Oil As Sunscreen?
Is your sunscreen up to the job? Download your FREE “Sunscreen Audit” cheatsheet to find out if your sunscreen is both safe AND effective:
Does Mixing Natural Oils Together Provide Better 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. There, I said.
But, what if you mix a bunch of them to reach SPF 30 or something?
It’s not so easy. For starters, do you know how much coconut oil should you apply to reach SPF 7.1? Use too little and you’ll cut its protection in half.
This is just the first step. Making a good sunscreen is hard. You need to consider a bunch of stuff, like viscosity, absorption rate, rate of degradation (all sunscreen ingredients lose 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 in the meantime, your skin’s gonna get damaged. Don’t fool yourself you’re safe just because you didn’t get a sunburn. A sunburn is the most immediate form of damage. Wrinkles, dark spots and cancer form without you even noticing them until one ugly day they appear as if out of nowhere.
Related: 4 Reasons Homemade Sunscreen Is A Bad Idea
How Can Natural Ingredients Protect You From UV Rays?
Natural oils and extracts don’t offer adequate protection against UV rays, but they aren’t useless. Most of them have powerful antixodant properties that can soothe and treat sun damage.
For example, studies have shown that green tea is loaded with antioxidants that 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?
A good sunscreen should definitely contain its fair share of antioxidants. But antioxidants alone aren’t a good replacement for sunscreen.
Related: Why You Should Add Green Tea To Your Skincare Routine
The Bottom Line
Natural oils and extracts can give sunscreens a helping hand and treat sun damage. But they’re NOT substitutes for sunscreen.