coconut oil as a sun protection

by 4813 · April 18, 2013 at 04:33 AM

I've read about coconut oil being a natural sun-blocker, and I have started to use it for past couple weeks. i am very pale, and as for now it seems to be working fine.

I tried to spread this idea to others, but when a friend asked me for some facts I realized that I have only anecdotal information. I did some research, but haven't found anything solid.

Anyone has some solid information, research or studies on coconut oil's sun protection? If there is a concrete SPF given?

Is there anyone who has been using it for many years as sun protection?

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26 Replies

602 · July 01, 2010 at 03:25 AM

I have no idea about coconut oil's efficacy as a sun blocker, but I do know that you will smell very, very tasty. For gosh sakes, don't wear any bacon.

9551 · August 02, 2010 at 04:58 AM

Why are we talking about sun protection at all? I just think it's odd that the discussion on this thread seems to be going on completely separate from the one on this thread:


There Drew posted the link to this very, very impressive post by Dr. (Mike) Eades:


The thought is that if anything is being used on the skin that allows tanning but prevents a burn, then you're probably doing yourself harm, because you've removed your body's natural fail-safe for avoiding the dangers of excess sun exposure. What's the fail-safe? The feeling of starting to burn. When you feel it, you get out of the sun.

I know a lot of people on this thread were probably talking about just establishing a base tan in the first place, so I'm not trying to attack. Just wanted to get some communication going.

But I'm new so let me know if there is a more official way to link two threads together, as Patrik talks about in the FAQ.

2316 · July 01, 2010 at 07:18 AM

I keep finding references to this "Provides protection form damaging effects of ultraviolet radiation form the sun. " (http://www.coconutresearchcenter.org/)

"Coconut oil for sunburn? Pure or virgin coconut oil (VCO) will block the damaging effects of ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun." (http://www.coconut-oil-central.com/coconut-oil-sunburn.html)

"it acts the same way that drug store suntan lotions act. It blocks out harmful UV radiation and allows you to tan without burning. " (http://sg.answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20100215032415AA1k8qX)

And more. But no studies so far and thus, all of it is just "I read it on the internet".

As for myself, I use coconut oil on burnt skin and it works wonders, and a lot better than any "after sun spray". I haven't tried it for (preventive) sun protection yet but will do that in the next few days on a few square inches of my skin.

And it might make sense to ask Sean Croxton about it, he's one clever chap and maybe he knows more about it and how it could work.

101 · May 31, 2012 at 03:51 AM

Test tube experiments in the article cited below suggest that coconut oil has a spectrophotometrically calculated SPF of 7.1; olive oil being the highest at 7.5. The researchers also state that oils are "more effective for producing a uniform and long-lasting film of sunscreen on the skin."

Source: "In vitro sun protection factor determination of herbal oils used in cosmetics", Chanchal Deep Kaur and Swarnlata Saraf, Pharmacognosy Res. 2010 Jan-Feb; 2(1): 22–25.

Link: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3140123/

293 · July 05, 2010 at 05:35 AM

Aloha! Been used here in Hawaii for a long long time as a tanning agent and skin conditioner AND the Hawaiian people have already brown skin! If you are pale I suggest a long sleeved white shirt and wide brimmed hat during the strongest rays!

1576 · August 02, 2010 at 03:05 PM

This is a job for Science! I demand an experiment.

Who's willing to paint racing stripes on themselves?

Or a nice white V down from the shoulders to the navel?

4813 · July 09, 2010 at 07:45 PM

I decided to update with recent experiences. I've been using coconut oil for the past weeks, and recently have been spending a lot of time outside. After working physically outside for about couple hours, fully sweating and all of that, I got serious sunburn. Now, I have to add that I am quite pale and my shoulders saw direct sun for the first time in ... a decade or so. I keep on using it, as I think in the places where I haven't exposed the skin to too much sun (or it's parts that are more used to it, as forearms) I got a nice golden tan, which is not that common for me.

I am waiting now for the magenta to subdue. I hope coconut oil will help with recovery of the skin.

so in conclusion - it's a great moisturizer, helps the skin deal with moderate sun exposure, but it's not a miracle worker and there probably aren't that many natural substances that can let me be outside in the heat (it was around 100*F) without any risk.

4620 · July 05, 2010 at 01:49 PM

Coconut oil has NO sunblocking protection but it does condition the skin and is not a carcinogenic. Use it on skin and in diet. Used with a natural clean Paleo diet nd you should have little problem burning in the sun under sensible conditions.

872 · July 01, 2010 at 04:05 AM

All I know is Bear Grylls used oil from coconuts as sunscreen on "Man vs. Wild" when he was on a tropical island. It looked like it worked for him. :D

10 · August 11, 2012 at 10:13 PM

Found this about the SPF of various natural oils: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3140123/

Coconut oil has an SPF of approximately 7, according to that study.


10 · July 26, 2012 at 12:33 AM

I have been using coconut oil for the first time this summMer and although I am fair and usually turn red, and peel the first few long exposures, I am a lovely golden brown. I put it on my exposed skin in the morning and work out in the hot sunny yard all day, in and out of shade as I am gardening and sweating. The heat and sun have been brutal, but no burn. I go swimming in my sisters pool at the height of the day, and no burn. No peeling. I can feel the heat of the sun, but no burn. It really is amazing. And my skin is conditioned, and really super soft. I do not use organic, just the stuff from Walmart on the shelf next to the crisco.

369 · August 07, 2011 at 12:16 AM

I have also been struggling to find types of "proof" for these claims, but am taking it at will for now.

I found this link helpful: http://www.jobdescriptionmommy.com/job-description-mommy/2011/06/sunscreen.html along with this one: http://hybridrastamama.blogspot.com/2011/06/coconut-oil-unleashed-reader-questions.html

The research that this woman cites estimates coconut oil as having an SPF around 4-6, but I just did a little self experimentation and would guess that it's a tad higher. I found it helpful that she also lists other oils that have higher estimated SPFs, like carrot seed oil and wheatgerm oil which are 20+, but I haven't tried any besides coconut oil.

20 · July 16, 2011 at 06:17 PM

There is a study on pubmed referencing the effect of emollients on reducing UVA and UVB absorption in psoriasis patients. One of the emollients used was coconut oil.

I use coconut oil here in Austin Texas while i'm out on the rivers during 100 degree heat. I have never burned. I usually wear sunglasses, hat, no shirt, shorts, and not shoes. So my skin is subjected to the sun anywhere from 1 to 3 hours.

I mix my coconut oil with Vitamin E oil, vitamin E works well to repair damaged skin and coconut oil does provide reduction in absorption of rays, maybe no hard evidence but I'm living proof. I'm not dark either, half irish half italian. The smell isn't the greatest when combined with Vitamin E but then again I'm not out there to pick up women (well maybe sometimes). The best thing is to get some long sleeve light shirts when you know you'll be out in the sun a very long time and a hat.

In terms of tanning darker... i don't think coconut oil is an "accelerator" if you want to look like a left out orange like the jersey shore dudes look like, spray tan.


10 · July 03, 2010 at 05:09 AM

I have recently started using coconut oil as sunscreen. It was the only thing I used on a very sunny, Tucson day at the waterpark recently and I got a little bit pink after 3-4 hours in pretty much full sun -- more or less what I would have expected if I had sunscreen on, and much less red than I would have been with nothing. I'm continuing to use it happily.

4090 · July 01, 2010 at 03:42 PM

I use coconut oil as a tanning oil to increase my ability to tan and not prevent it. It seems to accelerate a burn if anything in me.

4888 · July 01, 2010 at 10:25 AM

If it blocks sun and stops burning - does it inhibit vitamin D production too?

993 · April 18, 2013 at 04:33 AM

I heard coconut oil has a SPF of about a 4, but I only use coconut oil on my skin before goign to bed.

4113 · July 30, 2012 at 05:44 PM

Does it attract bugs to you instead of skin damage though?

1577 · July 30, 2012 at 04:54 PM

My N=1 experience tells me that 100% Shea butter works better than coconut oil for preventing sun burn. Those are the only two Ive consistently tried though.

0 · July 30, 2012 at 03:47 PM

Lots of good comments. I use coconut oil every day, in me and on me. I especially marinated me in it before sustaining. Nice even tan. That being said I think what we eat is so important too. Those freckles people ate talking about are liver spots. WIf what written put in our mouth is making our livers work too hard. Just an aside, I use coconut oil for night cream, 55 and no wrinkles yet. Blessings.

880 · July 26, 2012 at 01:32 AM

I have read that ingesting large quantities (3-4tbsp a day)as well as applying to skin is how it works best. And that you have to slowly gain a base tan. Don't just put it on your pale skin and expect to spend hrs in direct sun.

0 · May 25, 2012 at 12:35 PM

I would question your 'skeptic' friend if he's that vigilant about everything in his life? Experience is a powerful tool, the absence of this can develop limiting traits such as uncertaincy, powerlessness, confusion, distrust & skepticism. So my advice is not to take your friends comments personally & look to see how he applies this same rule to his life, to where he is contradicting himself or isn't going after life.

The truth is never that easy to see because it's so simple. And Science will always follow the explorer. Einstein was an explorer of science.

0 · May 06, 2012 at 04:23 PM

I have recently started using coconut oil for sunscreen. I am in LA and hike the Angeles forest in the buff. It works very well for me. I got a slight burn after 5 hours in peak sun from 10:30 am to 3:30 pm. I continued applying the oil afterward and two days later all is well. I am Italian and usually tan well. Considering I timed the last hike poorly and hiked 10 miles I am pleased I did not get totally fried.

0 · June 03, 2011 at 01:54 PM

i am guessing that it may protect you from sun damage due to a high anti-oxidant content. i am also using red palm oil. that can also be taken internally to help prevent skin damage from the sun. also Dr mecola is advising a carotene extract from a particular type of algae that can also protect against sun damage and reverse and prevent fine lines. http://www.naturalnews.com/026325_astaxanthin_NaturalNews_antioxidant.html

1011 · April 14, 2011 at 02:17 PM

regarding the sun and your skin. I recently read an article about a study that suggested Omega 3s in your diet protects the skin from burning. I will try and dig that article up.

3482 · July 31, 2010 at 03:24 AM

Something an Italian friend of mine does is mix brown rhum with oil (usually baby oil) to tan faster. I think the oils acts like a magnifier on your skin, you grill much faster.

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