Coconut Oil as Sunscreen- does it work?

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We cook with it, feed it to our pets, slather it onto our face and bodies, the list goes on and on. If you’re making the shift towards a more natural beauty routine, you’ve probably got coconut oil on that list.

With all of the dangers found in chemical-laden beauty products, it’s no wonder a product like sunscreen might have some questioning what exactly we’re putting on our bodies (and our children’s bodies) all in the name of protection.

For some, coconut oil might seem like the next-best alternative. It’s rich in antioxidants that help to reduce inflammation and pump moisture back into your skin, so couldn’t it be used to ward off the sun’s harmful rays? Well, yes and no.

Sunscreens are the best option for protection

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, sunscreens are products that help prevent the sun’s UV (ultraviolet) radiation from reaching the skin. There are two types of UV rays, UVA and UVB, both of which serve different roles in causing sunburns, wrinkling, premature signs of aging and cancers. UVA rays are known to penetrate deep into the skin and cause the lasting effects of light-induced aging, while UVB rays are responsible for the red, painful sunburns one usually associates with too much time spent outside sans protection.

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SPF is important

When determining a sunscreen’s SPF (Sun Protection Factor), it is calculated by the product’s ability to prevent UVB-related damage (a sunburn). For example, SPF 15 would protect against UVB rays 15 times longer than being without sunscreen. The higher the SPF, the longer (and greater) one’s chances are to ward off UV rays. Although, regardless of SPF level, it is always recommended that sunscreen be reapplied every two hours.

Coconut oil has a low SPF

Unfortunately, coconut oil (as well as other plant oils) has a relatively low protection level. In fact, coconut oil is listed as having an SPF level of 4. This translates to just four-times the protection compared to choosing to forgo sunscreen altogether.

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