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Natural Alternatives to Sunscreen: Can You Use Coconut Oil?

Jeremy Hendon | December 10
coconut oil sunscreen

I’ve heard that Pacific Islanders have used coconut oil as sunscreen for many thousands of years.

However, I’ve never been able to find any solid evidence of this.

And over the past few years, this study from India has also been discussed a lot.

In that study, however, coconut oil was shown to block only about 20% of the UV radiation from sunlight. For reference, SPF 15 sunscreen blocks about 94% of UV radiation.

So on the basis purely of how much UV radiation is blocked, coconut oil appears to be a very poor sunscreen.

Natural Alternatives to Sunscreen


natural alternatives to sunscreenThis doesn’t mean, however, that you should keep turning to commercial sunscreens loaded with chemicals. Most importantly, those sunscreens block your body’s ability to use sunlight to produce Vitamin D.

Still, getting sunburn is not healthy. So what’s the alternative?

The best natural sunscreen is actually dirt/mud, and is used around the world in places where high sun exposure is common. I don’t imagine that most of you will want to slather yourself in mud every time you go outside, however.

Instead of giving you a laundry list of alternatives, I’m going to link to 2 articles, one by Mark Sisson and one by Wellness Mama:

1. 8 Natural Ways to Prevent Sunburn

2. Eat Your Sunscreen?

What you’ll notice about both of these articles is that a good Paleo diet actually tends to be a very good sunscreen in itself. I’ve experienced this (I burn less than I used to), as have many other people.

Your Diet Is Very Important for Protection from the Sun

What you eat dramatically affects how your skin reacts to the sun, and eating a nutrient-dense Paleo diet tends to minimize sunburn.

In addition, getting regular exposure (10-15 minutes twice a day) and actually developing a tan is also very good protection against getting burned. You’ve probably experienced this on vacation, when toward the end of a week or two at the beach, you burned much less easily.

In the end, I wouldn’t recommend trusting coconut oil as a sunscreen.

It’s amazing in so many ways, but it can’t do everything. Watch what you eat and gradually increase your sun exposure.

If you are going to be out in the sun for an unusually long time, then commercial sunscreens will probably do more good than harm, but I wouldn’t use them on a regular basis.

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