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coconut oil as a sun protection

by (4896)
Updated about 23 hours ago
Created July 01, 2010 at 1:58 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?

70c75942b975919dfbed8dddbd767b60
289 · November 05, 2012 at 5:11 PM

Looks like this was already mentioned in Kasia's answer.

0fb8b3d6dcfb279b0f7e050d2d22510f
4625 · August 10, 2012 at 8:15 PM

Since eating a high fat Paelo diet with generous amounts of coconut oil in diet, I no longer burn or even get a tan in the sun. I spend the day at the beach yesterday with no sun screen and didn't get red. Even my right arm out the window when I drive is lighter than in past years.

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11152 · July 30, 2012 at 6:21 PM

Yeah, I gather that it isn't protective enough for us Whitey McWhites who freckle & burn instead of tan.

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4413 · July 30, 2012 at 4:24 PM

what are you basing your claim on here pjnoir?

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887 · July 26, 2012 at 1:27 AM

I have read it has an SPF of 4

6747a5447a3440b5c87ebf5f2c1e0ead
231 · May 31, 2012 at 3:10 PM

Gone, do you normally freckle in the sun? I tried using it last summer and it resulted in a sunburn and freckles that just won't go away :(

6747a5447a3440b5c87ebf5f2c1e0ead
231 · May 31, 2012 at 3:09 PM

I also got badly sunburned using coconut oil as sunscreen and now have freckles on my arms and shoulders as a result.

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3690 · May 06, 2012 at 4:49 PM

This may be a legit enough question on its own.

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1159 · April 14, 2011 at 5:38 PM

Just too bad it stains like crazy :/

3eb3f79868b24b3df4450ea2d4f9a5d5
2387 · August 04, 2010 at 1:53 PM

So what? No one ever said to stop thinking for yourself.

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19220 · July 31, 2010 at 12:03 PM

People who are selling coconut oil will tell you coconut oil is great for everything.

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2387 · July 05, 2010 at 6:45 AM

Just to throw this in: So far, coconut oil indeed _seems_ to work as sun protection, I tried it several times. My skin is already used to the sun for this year, though and I've been in the sun for 2 hours each, only. However, I smell delicious with that stuff on!

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2254 · July 03, 2010 at 1:30 PM

@andrew, it depends which fraction of the sunlight it blocks (UVA, UVB, etc.)

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4163 · July 02, 2010 at 3:39 PM

I suppose you wouldn't call it a burn, more of a 'slight reddening' that turns into a tan after a day.

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4896 · July 02, 2010 at 2:20 AM

thanks. To me it's enough that I read about happy people using it, but really wanted to have some solid numbers... for myself and my skeptic friend :)

A68f24168bc0de414a038037e287b581
4896 · July 02, 2010 at 2:19 AM

some people said that with coconut oil they could get a tan, but no burn. I've noticed I got slightly golden tone on my skin, which is a rare! Do you burn when using it?

A68f24168bc0de414a038037e287b581
4896 · July 02, 2010 at 2:17 AM

these are the same things I kept finding. I've been using it on my skin only for a few weeks, so it's hard for me to tell yet if it's working or not... I haven't got any burns from my often walks around the town, though.

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4896 · July 02, 2010 at 2:16 AM

it's definitely a sin from fashion perspective ;-)

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821 · July 01, 2010 at 3:39 PM

Apparently so. It seems like this is more of a comment than an answer

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821 · July 01, 2010 at 3:37 PM

Technically, its fine. But there may be a problem if you'll be tempted to eat it ;-)

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10502 · July 01, 2010 at 5:26 AM

As far as I know, people used coconut oil as sun protection in the 50s, 60s and 70s. Barry Grove often refers to this.

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627 · July 01, 2010 at 3:53 AM

Well there's a quandary for the local rabbi: is *wearing* bacon kosher?

A68f24168bc0de414a038037e287b581
4896 · July 01, 2010 at 3:42 AM

:D I will try to avoid bacon, which shouldn't be that difficult as I am Jewish ;-) I actually added the coconut oil to the very last amount of wonderfully smelling, hand made, body butter... OMG best thing ever. at least I don't smell like cookies only ;-)

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26 Answers

6f0efd477208f51d145bea6d7272256e
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627 · July 01, 2010 at 3:25 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.

6f0efd477208f51d145bea6d7272256e
627 · July 01, 2010 at 3:53 AM

Well there's a quandary for the local rabbi: is *wearing* bacon kosher?

A68f24168bc0de414a038037e287b581
4896 · July 02, 2010 at 2:16 AM

it's definitely a sin from fashion perspective ;-)

A68f24168bc0de414a038037e287b581
4896 · July 01, 2010 at 3:42 AM

:D I will try to avoid bacon, which shouldn't be that difficult as I am Jewish ;-) I actually added the coconut oil to the very last amount of wonderfully smelling, hand made, body butter... OMG best thing ever. at least I don't smell like cookies only ;-)

D339c39d94d65460e28128174845f423
821 · July 01, 2010 at 3:37 PM

Technically, its fine. But there may be a problem if you'll be tempted to eat it ;-)

F910318b9aa27b91bcf7881f39b9eabe
1159 · April 14, 2011 at 5:38 PM

Just too bad it stains like crazy :/

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9647 · August 02, 2010 at 4:58 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:

http://paleohacks.com/questions/7968/what-does-being-in-the-sun-actually-mean

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

http://www.proteinpower.com/drmike/supplements/sunshine-superman/

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.

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2387 · July 01, 2010 at 7:18 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.

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4896 · July 02, 2010 at 2:17 AM

these are the same things I kept finding. I've been using it on my skin only for a few weeks, so it's hard for me to tell yet if it's working or not... I haven't got any burns from my often walks around the town, though.

3eb3f79868b24b3df4450ea2d4f9a5d5
2387 · July 05, 2010 at 6:45 AM

Just to throw this in: So far, coconut oil indeed _seems_ to work as sun protection, I tried it several times. My skin is already used to the sun for this year, though and I've been in the sun for 2 hours each, only. However, I smell delicious with that stuff on!

0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb
19220 · July 31, 2010 at 12:03 PM

People who are selling coconut oil will tell you coconut oil is great for everything.

3eb3f79868b24b3df4450ea2d4f9a5d5
2387 · August 04, 2010 at 1:53 PM

So what? No one ever said to stop thinking for yourself.

6747a5447a3440b5c87ebf5f2c1e0ead
231 · May 31, 2012 at 3:10 PM

Gone, do you normally freckle in the sun? I tried using it last summer and it resulted in a sunburn and freckles that just won't go away :(

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101 · May 31, 2012 at 3:51 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/

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293 · July 05, 2010 at 5:35 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!

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1694 · August 02, 2010 at 3:05 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?

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4896 · July 09, 2010 at 7:45 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.

6747a5447a3440b5c87ebf5f2c1e0ead
231 · May 31, 2012 at 3:09 PM

I also got badly sunburned using coconut oil as sunscreen and now have freckles on my arms and shoulders as a result.

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11152 · July 30, 2012 at 6:21 PM

Yeah, I gather that it isn't protective enough for us Whitey McWhites who freckle & burn instead of tan.

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4625 · July 05, 2010 at 1:49 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.

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887 · July 26, 2012 at 1:27 AM

I have read it has an SPF of 4

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4413 · July 30, 2012 at 4:24 PM

what are you basing your claim on here pjnoir?

0fb8b3d6dcfb279b0f7e050d2d22510f
4625 · August 10, 2012 at 8:15 PM

Since eating a high fat Paelo diet with generous amounts of coconut oil in diet, I no longer burn or even get a tan in the sun. I spend the day at the beach yesterday with no sun screen and didn't get red. Even my right arm out the window when I drive is lighter than in past years.

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892 · July 01, 2010 at 4:05 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

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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.

Pat

70c75942b975919dfbed8dddbd767b60
289 · November 05, 2012 at 5:11 PM

Looks like this was already mentioned in Kasia's answer.

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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.

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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.

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20 · July 16, 2011 at 6:17 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.

Cheers

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10 · July 03, 2010 at 5:09 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.

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4163 · July 01, 2010 at 3:42 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.

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4163 · July 02, 2010 at 3:39 PM

I suppose you wouldn't call it a burn, more of a 'slight reddening' that turns into a tan after a day.

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4896 · July 02, 2010 at 2:19 AM

some people said that with coconut oil they could get a tan, but no burn. I've noticed I got slightly golden tone on my skin, which is a rare! Do you burn when using it?

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4991 · July 01, 2010 at 10:25 AM

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

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2254 · July 03, 2010 at 1:30 PM

@andrew, it depends which fraction of the sunlight it blocks (UVA, UVB, etc.)

D339c39d94d65460e28128174845f423
821 · July 01, 2010 at 3:39 PM

Apparently so. It seems like this is more of a comment than an answer

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3690 · May 06, 2012 at 4:49 PM

This may be a legit enough question on its own.

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1005 · April 18, 2013 at 4:33 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.

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4111 · July 30, 2012 at 5:44 PM

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

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1667 · July 30, 2012 at 4:54 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.

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0 · July 30, 2012 at 3:47 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.

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887 · July 26, 2012 at 1:32 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.

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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.

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0 · May 06, 2012 at 4:23 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.

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0 · June 03, 2011 at 1:54 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

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1033 · April 14, 2011 at 2:17 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.

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3690 · July 31, 2010 at 3:24 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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