Can I Use Coconut Oil as Sunscreen?

Any prolonged exposure to the UV rays of the sun may lead to serious damage to the skin. This may make your skin red, inflamed, and irritated–there may also be pain, itching, scars, rashes, blisters, wrinkles, and skin peeling. There are many artificial sunscreens for sun protection, but they contain chemicals that can irritate your skin. Then you may want tomake your own natural sunscreen and coconut oil is a popular choice here. But its effects are still widely disputed.

Can I Use Coconut Oil as Sunscreen?

The answer to the question depends on your preference and skin condition, such as whether you prefer natural products and if you're allergic to the chemicals in artificial sunscreen. You can read its pros and cons below to decide if you still want to use it as sunscreen.

Pros of Using Coconut Oil as Sunscreen

A skincare product with a very high SPF will completely block the penetration of sunrays, which can lead to a vitamin D deficiency. Coconut oil makes sure that the beneficial rays manage to get through.

Coconut oil has antibacterial, antimicrobial, and antifungal properties. Using it regularly will help detoxify the outer layers of your skin. Coconut oil has the ability to heal your skin and that is the reason why many sunscreen lotions include it in their formulas. It also has antioxidant properties that play a big role in preventing oxidative damage to the skin which is the leading cause of skin cancer.

Cons of Using Coconut Oil as Sunscreen

It is true that coconut oil is a safer alternative to commercially available sunscreen lotions and creams, but it has its limitations because of the low SPF. Coconut oil has an SPF of 4-7 and blocks only 75% of UV radiation. You can find other sunscreen products with SPF of 30-40, blocking 97%-98% of UV radiation. Compared to them, you will find coconut oil rather ineffective at preventing sunburns. While the chemical in your regular sunscreen may be too harsh, especially for infants, coconut oil is never a substitute either. The best idea is to choose a safer sunscreen product instead of slathering coconut oil on your skin.

How to Make Natural Sunscreen with Coconut Oil

Though coconut oil has a low SPF, you can use it with other ingredients to prepare a relatively effective sunscreen. Here is what to do:


  • 1/4 cup each of shea butter and coconut oil
  • Ÿ1/8 cup of sesame oil
  • Ÿa teaspoon each of carrot seed oil and red raspberry oil
  • Ÿ2 tablespoons each of zinc oxide powder and beeswax granules
  • rosemary, lavender, vanilla, or another essential oils


  • Melt your coconut oil, sesame oil, shea butter and beeswax (the last one) with a double boiler.
  • ŸRemove it from the heat once all the ingredients are melted properly. After it comes to room temperature, whisk zinc oxide and mix them.
  • ŸPlace the mixture in the fridge for about half an hour. Ensure that it remains soft enough to whip.
  • ŸUse a stand mixer to whip the mixture nicely. At this point, drizzle in the carrot seed oil, the red raspberry seed oil, and the essential oils you are using. Keep whipping until it becomes fluffy.
  • Use it as regular sunscreen and store it ina glass container in the fridge.

Tips to Choose a Safe Sunscreen

When you do not use coconut oil as sunscreen, you will have to find an alternative. You can find many skin care products to protect your skin from UV damage in the stores. However, many commercially sold sunscreens contain skin-penetrating hormone-disrupting chemicals such as retinylpalmitate, oxybenzone, and synthetic fragrance. You will be better using sunscreens that contain non-nanoparticle sized titanium- and zinc-based mineral ingredients because they do not penetrate your skin. Also, keep the following points in mind:

  • ŸDo not use spray sunscreens. They may create many side effects when you inhale their toxic particles through air. Some spray-on sunscreens have flammable ingredients and put you at a greater risk of getting serious burns from coming close to fire.
  • ŸDo not go for super-high SPFs. It may seem sane to opt for a sunscreen product with the highest SPF, but they are not going to offer any further serious protection. Moreover, using these products may give you a false sense of protection and make you spend more time in the sun.
  • ŸDo not use sunscreen powders or towelettes. They are not that effective, and may cause serious complications, especially the powder that can lead to lung irritation when inhaled.
  • Always look for sunscreen products with protection against UVB and UVA rays. Products with SPF only offer protection against UVB rays and may not offer any protection against the UVA rays that cause skin damage and cancer. Ensure your sunscreen offers protection against the both.

Other Safe Options for Sun Protection

When you cannot rely heavily on coconut oil as sunscreen, you can find other options for broad-spectrum UV protection. For instance:

  • Buy UPF-rated clothing for protection. The clothing is comfortable, breathable, and easy-care, and at the same time covers large areas of your skin.
  • ŸTry SPF-rated mineral sunscreens for better protection. Sunscreens with titanium dioxide or zinc oxide work great because these minerals cream a barrier between your skin and the sun's rays. Just opt for sunscreens that are water resistant and with an SPF of 30.
  • Use shade to limit exposure to the sun. Wear wide-brimmed hats, shade, or sunglasses to protect yourself from highly damaging UV rays.
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