“Coconut oil is the original suntan/sunscreen lotion … Coconut oil is a proven sunscreen that is still used by millions of people in the tropics as their sole source of protection from sunburn and skin cancer.”
I’ll be the first admit that coconut oil IS nice, but unfortunately it gets more hype than is really needed. It’s the new go-to oil of the millennium (older people will remember when olive oil was the go-to oil in the 80’s and 90’s). It’s been the cure-all for everything from weight loss to eczema. But can coconut oil work as a perfectly natural non-toxic sunscreen?
Ehhh, sort of. It depends entirely on the amount of SPF you’re after. Will coating yourself with coconut oil prevent sunburn? To a degree: yes. It has a natural SPF of about 7. Yep, 7. Technically it’s 7.11, which is actually lower than olive oil at 7.549, but higher than most all other oils. (source)
SPF 7, however, is really, really low, and will not protect you all that much. Not only that, but you will need to reapply it constantly since it doesn’t offer the staying power that commercial sunblock does. Even if you don’t burn, you’re still exposing your skin to dangerous rays. There’s a lot of misinformation about SPF, I’ve heard everything from the “SPF tells you how long it lasts” (not true) to “all sunblock is the same” (also not true). The recommended SPF for most people is 30, and you should make sure that the sunscreen you’re using not only blocks UVA but also UVB. (source)
Another thing to take in account that this pin does not, is that everyone has different skin types. Coconut oil might work as a sunscreen for those native to the tropics, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to work as well if you’re genetically low on melanin, like those who are from northern countries. Depending on the melanin levels in your skin, just trying this once could result in a nasty sunburn.
I get that a lot of people are trying to get away from chemicals and possibly harmful products, but at the end of the day, skin cancer caused by exposure to UVA/B rays is also a risk you have to consider when you’re debating on which cream to reach for this summer.