With spring’s arrival, and summer quickly approaching, sunscreen is a hot topic. Many are touting the SPF effects of natural oils. Sounds good, but is it too good to be true?
We know that personal care products sans chemicals are better for our skin and health. This goes for sunscreen too. Chemical sunscreens easily absorb into skin and are linked to hormonal disruption and skin allergies.
Natural minerals, like zinc oxide, provide serious sun protection and are not harmful to our health. There are other natural ingredients that contain some sun protection, like some plant and essential oils, but are they effective enough to replace your sunscreen?
You’ve likely seen articles on creating your own sunscreen or simply using natural oils in place of a sun protection product. A simple, organic plant oil to protect you from damaging rays? Sounds good but before you replace that sunscreen with a bottle of olive oil, let’s take a closer look.
Do Natural SPF Oils Really Provide UV Protection?
Short answer…yes. But it’s how much protection they provide that is important.
There are two types of natural oils, volatile and nonvolatile. Volatile oils are extracted from plants and have an aroma or flavor, also known as essential oils. Nonvolatile oils are all other plant oils, like olive and almond oil. The main difference between the two is that volatile oils evaporate more easily, allowing us to experience their scent.
There are certain oils in both groups that contain some natural UV protection. Olive trees, red raspberries, and blue berries all have their own natural sunscreen and this benefit carries over to us when we use them on our skin. Theses oils are healthy and help to protect us from the sun. But don’t slather yourself in them and head out to the beach just yet.
The amount of SPF these oils contain is far from what we need to adequately protect ourselves from UV damage. Studies show that SPF values for nonvolatile oils are in the 2-8 range, volatile oils are in the 1-7 range. For instance, olive and coconut oils ranked about an SPF 8, while sesame oil is only about a 2. Peppermint essential oil contains about an SPF 7, while rose oil is only about a 1. Cool facts, but these won’t do you much good in the sun on their own.
Raspberry seed oil is currently making blog headlines as having sunscreen powers that rival mineral protection, as high as SPF 25. This would be great, but until scientific measures have been done it is best not to rely on this oil solely as sun protection.
Natural SPF oils help to keep skin hydrated and many protect against free radical damage due to sun exposure. When used in a nontoxic sunscreen natural oils are super valuable. As we’ve seen, mineral sunscreens are the best choice for our health and sun protection. They protect against both UVA and UVB rays and don’t carry the health concerns of chemical sunscreens.
So for now, pass on the oils as sunscreen or diy methods and opt for safe sunscreens instead. Following are my faves. These work like a charm, offer safe protection, and won’t leave skin greasy or white.
Related on EcoSalon