Coconut oil is not sunscreen | The Brown Bottle
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Coconut oil is not sunscreen

Jan 10, 2018 by Sora

To avoid toxic chemical sunscreen ingredients, many people use sun protection products with natural oils that have sun protection factors. Some make and use their own DIY sunscreen from recipes they find online. Does it sound like you? Read on. You may be making a huge mistake!


I had no idea that there were so many nasty chemicals in my sunscreen! I searched online for natural and safe sunscreens for my baby and found that coconut oil has a natural SPF of about 7. I’m happy to use it as a sunscreen for my family.

Whenever you read DIY sunscreen recipes on Pinterest or beauty blogs, you might think it's a great idea to make natural sunscreen for yourself and your family. If the natural oils in coconuts and almonds contain natural SPF in them, why not toss out synthetic chemical sunscreens and only use natural oils?

To be sure, The Brown Bottle is a huge fan of natural ingredients, but today we will talk about why you should not restrict yourself to natural oils or DIY sunscreen for sun protection.


I will get a much worse burn if I wear oils and get too much sunshine

When I suggested that my friends use facial oils, some of them had the impression that they would burn more easily if they used oil-based products and were out in the sun. But think about your sunscreen products’ textures for a second. Most of them are oil-based products anyway.

Plants need sunlight to grow, but too much sunlight can be damaging. To find a balance, plants produce natural UV filters, and that’s why coconut oil, which is produced in sunny tropical regions, contains a high natural sun protection factor. Such natural oil ingredients are added to commercial sunscreens to boost their UV-blocking abilities.


SPF (Sun Protection Factor) in natural plant oils

"In vitro sun protection factor determination of herbal oils used in cosmetics" www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, Accessed on 04 Jan 2018


So then why should we not use plant oils as sunscreen if all of the above results are true?

A sunscreen product to be sold commercially, it has to be processed as the following.

  • Company decides what SPF product they want to achieve and then select the proper sunscreen ingredients.
  • The selected sunscreen is tested in the lab multiple times while the development process to ensure that the SPF is still on track.
  • The sunscreen is then tested on human volunteers. Their skin reactions are assessed.
  • They compares these results with their test results to ensure the product meet the SPF they planned.

Natural plant oils are not SPF tested or verified separately like other ingredients in commercial sunscreens. And because of this, plant oil sellers cannot claim any SPF information on their labels. They have not verified the qualities of their products with any assurance.

And we even often see that some commercial sunscreens don’t meet the SPF claims of their products when authorities collect and test products in the market at random. Sunscreen companies are not trying to deceive anyone; it's just uncommonly challenging to develop stable SPF products. And this is all the more reason why we shouldn’t try to use our own DIY sunscreens! The science is complicated. For example, 30% of zinc oxide in your formula doesn’t necessarily equal SPF 30.


How to use natural plant oils for UV blocking

Use the SPF of plant oils not as a separate sunscreen certainty but mere as a ‘UV blocking booster’. But bear in mind: if you put plant oil on your face and then reapply sunscreen, the plant oil might disturb the sunscreen's application to your skin and prevent it from spreading evenly or staying put. Mix the oil in your moisturiser, apply it on your face first and then apply sunscreen. Stay safe in the sun!

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