natural spf oils

Are There any Natural SPF Oils?


If you are interested in natural skin care you may wonder if there are any natural SPF oils. Sunscreen safety is a big topic. A quick search and some reading on the topic will show that many sunscreen products are not healthy and might even cause more damage then you were hoping to prevent.

The Environmental Working Group is the best place to get reliable information on this topic. Their yearly sunscreen guide is best resource to find out about the best and worst sunscreen products on the market. After learning about all the dangers of sunscreen products, many people wonder if they can get the same or better sun protection just by using natural spf oils and avoiding sunscreen products all together.

Homemade sunscreen recipes like this one are gaining popularity because people want better alternatives. However, homemade sunscreen can't offer you an SPF number that we are used to seeing on a sunscreen product.

What is SPF anyway? SPF measures the sunscreen protection from UVB rays (which is what causes sunburn). If you would usually burn after 10 minutes in the sun, an SPF 15 sunscreen would allow you to stay in the sun for approximately 150 minutes without burning. That is 15 times longer then you'd be able to without it. In order for a product to be able to make an SPF claim, it needs to go through extensive FDA testing to prove this sun protection factor. One of the reasons for that is that different combinations of oils and ingredients will give different SPF ratings. It's not as easy as just adding together the natural SPF oils ratings of each ingredient.

natural spf oils

Natural SPF Oils

The truth is, some oils do have natural SPF and can help protect us from the sun. The only problem is we don't really know exactly how much protection you are getting when ingredients are combinedThere was a helpful study done on the sun protection factor of some individual natural oils. The results were quite interesting. A number of oils in the study were rated SPF 5 or more, those oils are:

  • Olive Oil – SPF 7.5
  • Coconut Oil – SPF 7.1
  • Peppermint Oil – SPF 6.6
  • Tulsi Oil – SPF 6.5
  • Lemongrass oil – SPF 6.2
  • Lavender oil – SPF 5.6
  • Castor Oil – SPF 5.6

Another study in 2021 found that tamanu oil had an SPF of 11.9.

The SPF ratings of the oils in these studies seem quite low compared to some of the sunscreen products on the market. There are SPF claims of 50 or higher on some conventional products. Keep in mind that experts say anything over SPF 30 is not even beneficial. Using these natural oils is certainly much better then using nothing at all but the addition of zinc oxide is really helpful to make a big jump up in sun protection.

Zinc Oxide

Aside from natural oils SPF, zinc oxide is the healthiest way to get longer and stronger protection from the sun. The biggest problem with zinc oxide is that, because of it's pasty white nature, sunscreen makers are using smaller and smaller particles of zinc (called nano-particles) in their products. The particles have gotten so small that they can even penetrate the skin or get into the lungs (in the case of sprays or powders) and that's where the health concerns really lie. Use a non nano-particle zinc in your own mixtures to make sure it is safe (or just look for products made without nano-particles)

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