Coconut Oil and Sun Protection

by Carrie Raab on May 23, 2012

I am happy to announce that I will be having Jennifer as a regular guest on my blog! Jennifer is known as the “coconut guru!” You will learn so much from her and I am honored to have her share all of her information with us. Today she will be discussing the benefits of coconut oil and sun protection.

coconut oil

Coconut Oil and Sun Protection

 It is that time of year again. Great weather, lots of sun, long days spent outdoors. This is also the time of year where everyone worries about damage to their skin from exposure to the sun’s harmful rays. Sunscreen flies off the shelves at every store. Moms slather it on their children in thick layers. And this summer, like every summer, harmful chemicals will be absorbed into millions of bodies.

But don’t we need sunscreen and don’t the risks of using it outweigh the damage from unprotected skin exposed to the sun?

There is a lot of debate about sunscreen, its effectiveness, and more recently, it’s potential to actually increase our chances of developing skin cancer. Yes, that’s right. Studies are showing that sunscreens are not all they are cracked up to be. I could get into this topic here, but instead, I would like to direct your attention to a wonderful article which succinctly outlines why sunscreen may indeed cause cancer. You can find it here. You can also read a little further to learn why sunlight actually prevents cancer by clicking here. And to further enlighten you, here is one more article which outlines the pros and cons of sunscreen and sun exposure.

 An important factor in preventing skin damage of any kind from too much sun exposure is understanding your skin type and your resulting SPF needs. Here is a quick breakdown:

  • Type 1 skin burns and freckles but never tans. If you’re red haired with blue or gray eyes, you may fit into this category and should use a sunscreen with the highest SPF rating.
  • Type 2 skin eventually develops a tan but always burns after 20 to 30 minutes in the sun. Type 2s are light blondes with blue or green eyes and should stick to a high SPF (45) sunscreen.
  • Skin cancer occurrence drops drastically at Type 3 skin. People with this skin usually have dark blond or light brown hair and blue, green or brown eyes. They can develop a dark tan but will burn moderately, so should begin with a high SPF (30) sunscreen and gradually work down.
  • Type 4 skin is naturally dark complected, has brown hair and eyes and always tans dark brown. Still, they can burn minimally and should start tanning with an SPF of 15 and work down.
  • With Middle Eastern or Latin American ancestry, Type 5 hardly ever burns but should use a slight sunscreen of SPF 4.
  • Type 6, with black hair and dark skin, usually never burns but should play it safe with a sunscreen of SPF 4.

 One of the most effective ways to protect yourself from sun damage is to slowly expose your skin to the sun and develop what is commonly referred to as the “base tan.” Type 1s would do this more slowly, over a longer period of time and Type 6s would need a very short amount of time to build up natural sun protection.

 A good rule of thumb is to expose your skin to the sun without any sort of “protection” for 15 minute increments every day, between the hours of 8:00am and 10:00am. Over time, your skin will build up natural defenses. Proper clothing choices are also essential and a healthier way to protect your skin from the sun. Cotton clothing has a natural SPF of 15. There are lots of clothing options which allow for layering and increased sun protection while not being too warm or constricting. Hats are a must have year round.

 

 So after reading the information above you are pretty convinced that sunscreen and sunblocks are not the way to go, right? Other than gradual sun exposure and protective clothing, what can you do to protect delicate skin on those days where you will be out in the sun a lot?

 Slather on the COCONUT OIL!  Yes, that’s right. Get your body greased up and ready for the sun by simply using coconut oil!

 According to Dr. Bruce Fife of the Coconut Research Center, “one of the oldest uses for coconut oil is as a sun screen / suntan lotion. Islanders have been using coconut oil for this purpose for thousands of years. In the tropics where the climate is hot, islanders traditionally wore little clothing so that they could keep themselves cool. To protect themselves from the burning rays of the hot tropical sun they applied a thin layer of coconut oil over their entire body. This would protect them from sunburn, improve skin tone and help keep annoying insects away. Coconut oil was applied on the skin daily. When a mother gave birth one of the first things she would do is to rub coconut oil all over her newborn. Every day coconut oil would be used on the skin. As the children got older they applied the oil themselves. They would continue this practice throughout their lifetime up until the day they died. Many islanders, even today, carry on this practice.”

 The first commercial suntan and sun screen lotions contained coconut oil as their primary ingredient. Even today many sun screen lotions include coconut oil in their formulas. Coconut oil has an amazing ability to heal the skin and block the damaging effects of UV radiation from the sun. One of the reasons why it is so effective in protecting the skin is its antioxidant properties, which helps prevent burning and oxidative damage that promotes skin cancer.

 The general consensus in the natural health community is to apply coconut oil liberally being mindful that it will not prevent sunburn 100%.  Follow the guidelines above to build your base suntan and wear protective clothing when possible. Reapply the coconut oil after swimming or sweating. And do not sit out in full sun for 8 hours and expect to walk away with a perfect bronzed body.  It won’t happen. You will get burned.

 I have used coconut oil as sun protection for the past two summers.  This summer will be my third.  I apply it before going outside to any part of me that will be exposed.  I often find myself outside during “peak” hours. I hate protective clothing. So lots of me is exposed with nothing but coconut oil on.  I do take care to only say out for an hour or two. I have not burned once in the past two years. I use to always burn despite how high of an SPF protection I used. Hmmmm….

 Still not convinced that it will work?  Check out this great pictorial from someone who accidentally discovered how effective coconut oil is as a sunscreen: http://pullupsandpaleo.wordpress.com/2010/07/26/coconut-oil-as-sunscreen/

 If you prefer to use something more akin to a sunscreen, I have a great recipe in my Ebook: Coconut Oil For Your Skin – Nourishing Your Body From The Outside In. And be sure to check out 160 Uses for Coconut Oil to learn more about this amazing product!

 Yours in coconut health,

Jennifer- Hybrid Rasta Mama

About Hybrid Rasta Mama

Jennifer, author of Hybrid Rasta Mama, is a former government recruiter turned stay-at-home mama to a precious daughter (“Tiny”) brought earthside in early 2009. She is passionate about conscious parenting, natural living, holistic health/wellness, real foods, and a Waldorf inspired approach to education. Jennifer is committed to breastfeeding (especially extended breastfeeding), bed-sharing, cloth diapering, green living, babywearing, peaceful parenting, playful parenting, and getting children outside. She is a hybrid parent, taking a little of this, throwing in a little of that, and blending it all together to create a parenting style that is centered on what her daughter needs in order to flourish as a human being. Jennifer also lives and breathes reggae music, the Rastafarian culture and way of life. Reggae music and its message touches her soul.

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{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Sarah August 11, 2014 at 4:48 pm

Wow! I’m pretty sure you’ve mentioned literally EVERYTHING about Coconut oil and sun protection! haha :).

I love Coconut oil, i started using it in my cooking a few years ago! Now i’m using it for a moisturiser, hot oil hair treatment and oil pulling. It really is a fantastic natural product!

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heena June 2, 2014 at 4:21 pm

great artical (y) n i love coconut oil and i wanna knw that can we apply coconut oil as a sunscreen for swimming does it work in swimming pool as well?? if yes then how to apply n how long it will work??

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Felix Silvester April 30, 2014 at 4:26 pm

A great testimony i must share to all cancer patient in the world i never believed that their could be any complete cure for lung cancer or any cancer,i saw people’s testimony on blog sites of how Doctor Raymond cannabis oil brought them back to life again i had to try it too and you cant believe that in just few weeks i started using it all my pains stop gradually and i had to leave without drugs the doctor gave to,right now i can tell you that few months now i have nit had any pain and i have just went for text last week and the doctor confirmed that there is no trace of any cancer again,glory be to Jesus for leading me to this genuine Doctor called Raymond Wallace i am so happy as i am sharing this testimony,my advice to you that is thinking that their is no cure for cancer,just contact and get the oil treatment from Doctor Raymond try it and you will not regret it because it truly works and here is his email(dr.raymondcannabisoil@hotmail.com)

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Likes & Comments on Instagram March 30, 2014 at 8:10 pm

I am not sure where you’re getting your info, but great topic.
I needs to spend some time learning more or understanding more.
Thanks for excellent information I was looking for this
information for my mission.

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Sunday Burger May 27, 2013 at 3:53 pm

Hello, I really love your site. I am also a Christian and it concerned me that in the coconut/sunscreen article you referred to people as millions of years old and that’s just not true according to the Bible. The Earth and people were created about 6000 years ago. If your interested in the truth according to the Bible check out Answers in Genesis. It’s the truth according to the Bible. Thanks for your time, Sunday Burger

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Carrie Raab May 28, 2013 at 4:15 pm

The article is from a guest post.

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Jane May 9, 2014 at 9:26 pm

Hi, I, also am a Christian. I just wanted to say that it is possible to be a Christian and be and theistic evolutionist, they are not mutually exclusive. A lot of evidence for young-earth creationism comes from a number constructed out of the genealogies. The original hebrew for the word “beget” that english uses translates more closely to “is a descendent of.” This use of the english word is the main argument for young earth creationism. Anyway, my two cents.

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Carrie Raab July 1, 2014 at 5:25 pm

Hello, if you see, this is not MY article! It is a guest post! I am a Christian, yet the article was not submitted by me. Thx!

Arletta May 4, 2013 at 9:45 pm

I learned this by accident, myself, because I went to buy unrefined coconut oil from GNC at the Tucson Mall. Then, I went back inside to round up my kids, and I think we ended up eating there or something. The point being that there was this plastic jar of coconut oil, out in the hot sun, for at least an hour or so.

The jar melted. It had cost me $16 and it was dripping all over the place, with no way to contain it. So, knowing that people used it for moisturizer, I really slathered it on, and had my kids do the same.

Then, we drove all the way home (about an hour’s drive), and we went swimming in the afternoon, which meant being outside and exposed at some of the worst time for it. I was not wearing sunscreen, because, sunscreen always makes my skin hurt and I usually end up just as burnt, regardless.

But, having been thoroughly slathered with coconut oil – and having applied it more than once, during the drive home -I didn’t get burnt, even a little bit.

Since then, I have tried using coconut oil as sunscreen, but, I have gotten burnt. Of course, I was out in the sun for quite some time that day and only applied it lightly and the once.

So, if you are going to use coconut oil for sunscreen, my suggestion to you is that you apply it right after a shower, first, and let that soak in; and, then reapply a time or two, letting it soak in, before you are ready to leave and then reapply it again before you leave, and take the jar with you! At least, initially. The more “loaded up” you are, the better.

Coconut oil also makes a good skin cleanser, for removing makeup or just getting the dust out of your pores. So, if you are following the advice about not using, or over-using, soap, it is a good alternative to quickly, cheaply and healthily get your skin soft and clean, as well as protected from UV rays.

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Lisa May 2, 2013 at 5:07 pm

I am getting ready to go on vacation to the Caribbean, so I wanted to “pre-tan” before I hit the ocean side. The first two weeks I did just coconut oil and just turned slightly pink like I usually do anyways, but did not burn..by the next day it was gone…week 3 I got a sunscreen with 30 spf…only because I knew I would be out in the sun a long time that day..guess what, I burned!!! I am going back to my coconut oil and I am going to take coconut oil with me on my vacation. Thank you for this post! I have learned a lot!

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Persia April 10, 2013 at 5:20 pm

I loved this! I have one question, can you put JUST put coconut oil on, or do you have to mix it with other things before applying? Also, is this safe to put on toddlers as a sunscreen or do they need more to protect their skin?

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Carrie Raab April 12, 2013 at 5:48 pm

Hello!
I would contact Jennifer, as she is the coconut oil guru! Thank you! :)

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Kate November 18, 2012 at 5:08 am

I can’t decide if I’m a 2 or a 3. I have very fair skin that freckles a little, light green eyes, medium blonde hair with a lot of red in it as well. I burn fairly easily but eventually tan and can get pretty dark if I stay at it….dark for a blondy that is lol. Whatdya think? 2 or 3?
I live in Virginia, USA btw so the sun can bet pretty intense in the summer. I got the worst sunburn of my life this past summer kayaking! My legs swelled up a ton and I got blisters on them and it was hard to move. They were super hot to the touch too. Won’t ever make that mistake again.

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Louise September 26, 2012 at 12:44 am

Thank you for this! I found out, by accident, this summer that coconut oil is an amazing sunscreen. I started using coconut oil as a moisturizer after my shower last winter. I noticed this summer that I could stay out in the sun for hours with no sunscreen and not burn, but still got a nice tan. I’m pretty fair so that’s very unusual. I decided it must be the coconut oil because that’s all I was using on my body. Thanks for confirming this. And thank you coconut oil :-)

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Carrie Raab September 26, 2012 at 2:55 am

Awesome! Great info! Very true :)

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Skye September 11, 2012 at 6:07 am

Hi there!
Great article; I am falling in love with coconut oil, it is just amazing. Definitely my favourite oil for cooking; so much flavour without the cholesterol of butter (my old favourite :p)

I was just wondering how many days one should expose their skin without any sort of ‘protection’ for 15 minutes?

I’m type 3 skin btw – at least I think! Dark blonde, pale skin with very few freckles and hazel eyes. I live in Australia so it’s mighty sunny here.

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ilaria August 26, 2012 at 12:56 pm

Hi!
I really want to try this summer to use just coconut oil, I’m about to go to south of Portugal. Have you got any name or brand or anything useful to know if I need to buy some? thanks that would be great! :)
I.

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Carrie Raab August 26, 2012 at 7:00 pm

We like Tropical Traditions and this is also the brand that Jennifer, Hybrid Rasta Mama recommends! :) Have a fun trip.

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Joyce August 21, 2012 at 4:34 pm

I use coconut oil to cook and also for my skin. I am a fan of coconut oil but I am a little confused about putting it on my skin and go out to swim. Are we talking about refined coconut oil that comes in a jar? How is it possible that it can work like a sunscreen but at the same time my body can burn if I’m expose to the sun for hours? I’m just confused.

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Carrie Raab August 23, 2012 at 12:07 am

You do need to re apply the coconut oil -especially if you are in the sun for any length of time. Hope that helps! It works, just re apply. :)

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Cynthia July 29, 2012 at 2:39 pm

For the last ten years have suffered from horrible rashes when exposed to the sun for more than 15 mins and have had to use a 50+ sunscreen and protective clothing to my wrists and ankles along with a hat. Even a drive across town “caught” in the sun without my protective clothing was a serious problem resulting in a rash lasting 6 weeks or more! Last year I came across the benifits of coconut oil and started using it every day in the shower and found it protected my skin from the sun 1000 times better than the now 70+ sunscreen I used last. I can now go out in a tank top without worry and have not had one single rash. Don’t get me wrong, I am not laying out or tanning, but can now garden, or go out shooting (I’m a photographer) without covering myself from head to toe!!!!! Seriously, cold-presses, organic coconut oil is a miracle treatment for the skin, body and hair! Note: why organic…if you can’t eat it, then don’t put it on your face!

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Carrie Raab July 29, 2012 at 7:53 pm

Hey Cynthia! Awesome testimony!! Thank you for sharing this with our readers! So encouraging! I agree- if you can’t eat it, don’t put it IN or ON your body!!
Blessings! Would love to see some of your work sometime. :)

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Elise May 25, 2012 at 2:10 pm

The many uses of coconut oil never cease to amaze me!
I’m one of those who burns and burn, and then eventually begins to tan… I’ll try this!

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Carrie Raab May 30, 2012 at 2:38 am

Hey Elise! Awesome! Thanks for reading the post and I love your comment!

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kelli- AdventurezInChildREaring May 23, 2012 at 6:56 pm

interesting information – except for the millions of years part – coconut oil can be used for so many wonderful things!

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Carrie Raab May 23, 2012 at 11:55 pm

:) Thanks for reading! Bless you my friend!

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