LPN Blog Sun Care

Natural Oil Sunscreens: What You Need to Know & Badger Balm for Fool Proof Sun Protection

There has been a lot of chatter on the interwebs lately about using coconut oil (and other oils) for sunscreens – amazing that plants actually have natural sun protection in them, isn’t it? However, there are a few things you should know before you slather on coconut oil and pop out into the sun. Not all oils’ Sun Protection Factor (SPF) are created equal, and not all are strong enough for everyone.

For those choosing coconut oil to be their sun protection of choice, I would heed warning that the SPF factor ranges from 2 – 8 SFP (depending on the quality of oil). For dark skinned beauties, this might not be a big issue, but I would still be wary for anti-aging purposes.   As a fair skinned gal, I would burn in under 20 minutes with SPF 2. I am particularly conscious of the SPF I’m wearing (especially on my face, which is always exposed to daylight). If we break it down, you will quickly see that not everyone can use this as an alternative for sunscreen; however, I have some more options for you below. 

The Best Natural Oils for Sunscreen

If you’re looking to wear plan oil as your sunscreen of choice, I have some options below, in order of their sun protection value (raspberry, despite having lower SPF than carrot seed comes first because it takes care of UVA & UVB rays). Please have a look at the cautions at the bottom of this page before rushing out the store to buy oils.

Red Raspberry Seed Oil – SPF 28 – 50

This one is one of the most popular oils for SPF and can have a range of 28 – 50 (depending on the oil’s quality). Red raspberry oil is actually close to equivalent of the protection you would receive from Titanium Dioxide, found in most mineral sunscreens. The essential fatty acids and host of antioxidants in this oil are also great for other skin healing purposes including eczema and psoriasis. Red Raspberry Seed Oil protects against UVA & UVB rays. 

Carrot Seed Oil – SPF 38 – 40

Carrot oil, which doubles as an antispetic is said to contain a high SPF factor when diluted with a carrier oil. According to a study published in “Pharmacognosy Magazine” in 2009, products containing carrot seed oil have a natural SPF of between 38 and 40.

Wheatgerm Oil – SPF 20

Wheatgerm is packed with vitamins and minerals – namely Vitamin E, K & B – so it also acts as free radical preventer while it protects you from the sun.

Other Oils with SPF 10 or Less

There are a host of other oils with lesser SPF factors, but may be adequate for some more bronzed babes.

  • Macadamia Oil – SPF 6
  • Non-GMO Soybean Oil – SPF 10
  • Avocado Oil – 4 – 10 (can get as high as 15)
  • Olive Oil  – 2-8
  • Shea Butter – 3 – 6
  • Almond Oil – SPF 5
  • Sesame Seed Oil – SPF 4
  • Hemp Seed Oil – SPF 6
  • Jojoba Oil – SPF 4
  • Coconut Oil – SPF 2 – 8

Use Caution When Using Natural Oils for Sunscreen

Since not all oils are created equal, the SPF can vary when it is on your skin. Determining the exact SPF factor of an oil is difficult, espeically given that natural oils oxidize (lose some of their medicinal properties) over time and when exposed to light. Ensure that you are purchasing your oils from a recommended source and always do your research.

Another note about UVA & UVB rays: Aside from Red Raspberry Seed Oil, most plant oils protect only against UVB rays. Use caution or mix with a non-nano sized zinc oxide formula (non-nano meaning it doesn’t absorb into your skin).

Non-Nano Zinc Oxide: Badger Balm Sunscreens

One of my favourite non-nano zinc oxide (non-nano meaning: does not soak into your blood stream) sunscreens is made by Badger Balm. If you follow me on Instagram, you have probably seen a few posts with Badger Balm sunscreens. I use this all over and find it to be effective, despite the fact my skin is whiter than almond milk (no cows were harmed in the writing of this post – ha!). Last summer I actually posted on Badger Balms sunscreen and am still using them today. They also make an awesome SPF lip protector.

I use Badger Balm’s Unscented SPF 30 ($16 USD), as well as their SPF 35 Sport ($16 USD), which is great when I’m getting in the water (or sweating it out). Given that the SPF is 30, this sunscreen may require a reapplication (or a few) throughout the day, especially after swimming. Also, it is worth noting that this type of sunscreen, because it doesn’t sink in can leave a whitish-hue on your skin. It doesn’t bother me much, but ensuring that you spread it on evenly and well should help minimize this. 

For those who wish to have a lower SPF, the boyfriend uses Badger Balm Aloe Sunscreen in SPF 16 which also retails for $16 USD.

Hope you’ve found this useful, LPN’ers.

Protect your largest organ!

X

K

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  • Caroline

    Thanks very much for all the info; I am off to slap on the oils whilst the UK summer lasts!!

  • Margo McCann

    I have been looking for an all natural sunscreen but have always been afraid to try something like oils because I too am fair skinned and I really don’t want to burn! Thanks for the tips.

  • Keith

    Thanks for the post. This is so cool!! I’m definitely picking up some Badger Balm!

    -Keith
    Simple
    Skin Care

    • http://livingprettynaturally.com/ Living Pretty Naturally

      Glad you enjoyed! :-) x

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  • Katrina Salvador

    Do you have to dilute the red raspberry seed oil in a carrier oil or can it be used alone?

    • http://livingprettynaturally.com/ Living Pretty Naturally

      Hi Katrina :) Using a carrier oil is usually recommended when using any type of essential plant oil. As you likely know, many plant oils can create skin irritation. That being said, adding a carrier may affect the SPF factor of the red raspberry oil. Frugally Sustainable has a great do-it-yourself recipe for natural spf, but it does include zinc oxide (in addition to raspberry & carrot seed oils) http://frugallysustainable.com/2012/03/a-recipe-for-natural-homemade-sunscreen/ xx

  • Kristina

    How does the raspberry oil smell ? :)

    • http://livingprettynaturally.com/ Living Pretty Naturally

      Not like raspberry :) hehe Some people say it has a “fishy” smell to it. Not sure I agree though :) It’s mild in my opinion :)

  • Naomi

    I love the badger balm, but I’ve been thinking about mixing in a little oil with it to make it spread more easily. Do you think this will counteract the non nano formulation?

    • http://livingprettynaturally.com/ Living Pretty Naturally

      Don’t think it would counteract the non-nano – non-nano meaning the particles are too big to be absorbed on skin, instead they sit on top of the skin’s surface. Try it out and let me know how you fare… in fact, I’ll give it a try too! :) xx

  • uuzume

    Thanks for sharing. Can you tell me where you got your information on the SPF of the different oils? I’m interested in learning more!

  • kristen

    i am trying to find a sunscreen to use on my ghost white children that does NOT smell like sunscreen and every unscented one still smells like sunscreen is there any that do not have that smell. i have a very sensative nose and can smell even a hint of sunscreen smell

    • http://livingprettynaturally.com/ Living Pretty Naturally

      Badger Balm unscented, or Aubrey unscented :) x

  • Emily Jones

    Advise on there to find Red Raspberry Seed Oil?

    • http://livingprettynaturally.com/ Living Pretty Naturally

      Good quality is important – check out Mountain Rose Herbs :) xx

  • amber

    Could you cite your sources for the SPFs of each oil?

    • http://livingprettynaturally.com/ Living Pretty Naturally

      Hi Amber, the sources are ranges since you cannot guarantee the quality of the oil. The Oomah study in 2000 had findings that showed Raspberry seed oil being equal to Titanium dioxide. That being said, like I note in my post, it is hard to guarantee so your best (and safest) bet is to go with a product that has been tested to be a certain SPF value.
      You can find some details here: http://www.mani-gmbh.com/en/red_raspberry.376.html
      xx

  • Amanda

    What about if we want to keep it simple and just use the raspberry seed oil? Can it be used straight? If no, what would the dilution rate be?

    • http://livingprettynaturally.com/ Living Pretty Naturally

      Hi Amanda,
      Raspberry seed oil, from what I have seen in the market, is not easily found as an essential oil. Therefore it usually can be used right out of the bottle. In fact, some use Raspberry seed oil as a carrier oil (like almond oil, for instance). That being said, make sure you read the directions on the bottle, of course.

      Also, I wouldn’t rely on it as the only source of sunscreen you’re using, but a supplement, yes! xx

  • Jen Anglen

    where do you buy red raspberry seed oil? none of my EO friends can get it! is it not an essential oil?

    • http://livingprettynaturally.com/ Living Pretty Naturally

      It is usually marketed as a carrier oil :) and not a highly concentrated distilled essential oil xx

    • kasamom

      Piping Rock has a BOGO today 03/02/15 for raspberry seed oil

  • Hawkmoon Soaps

    thanks ,but a quick questions please- are you referring to the orange colored carrot oil or Pure carrot essential oil ?

    • http://livingprettynaturally.com/ Living Pretty Naturally

      Not pure essential oil, seed oil that acts like a carrier oil :)

  • RJustified

    I just came from the dermatologist and had to ask her about all these
    bloggers and their posts on using all these natural alternatives and she
    basically came out of her skin herself!!!

    Sure natural is safe
    but NOT as a sunscreen/sunblock!!! STOP this nonsense when posting
    that these oils are safe and have an SPF rating of higher than 4!!! Do
    you want on your conscience little babies with fried to a crisp skin or
    young children with fried skin as a result of your stupid articles of
    the SPF’s on oils??? COME on now!!! You better hope No ONE decides to
    sue one of you bloggers or writers as a result of trusting your
    statements that these oils are safe!

    My dr. suggested if I want to stay away from dangerous chemicals to use sunblock with zinc and titanium dioxide.

    She recommended Blue Lizard and Vanicream they are both safe for babies and if you can put it on a baby it is safe for all ages. Those two are excellent sunblock.

    I don’t know why so many of you writers and bloggers feel that you
    should post such nonsense and don’t do your research. Show me ONE link
    that takes you to a Dr. recommended oil as a sunscreen!!! JUST ONE!
    YOU won’t find this in any medical journal or off the FDA/CDC none of
    these oils are significantly safe to use as a sunscreen!

    They
    are oils that are NOT safe as a sunscreen ESPECIALLY on babies. New
    mothers are going to think this is better to use on their babies that
    are going to believe this trash you are writing!

    YOU TOOK everything Dr. OZ said out of context by mentioning how minerals are safer!!

    Stop and
    think about the children that are going to get their fragile skin fried
    to a crisp because the mothers are going to slather one of these oils on
    their kiddos and think they are safe! SHAME on you for posting like
    you have done the research! WOULD you put this on your Children to
    spend the day in the sun at the beach!!?? I believe NOT.

    Bottom line the sun is dangerous if you are overexposed. It is all
    about moderation and covering up when you are going to be exposed for
    long periods of time. Sunscreens are toxic and they contain poisons you
    don’t want your body absorbing. Do your research people if you are
    going to write about health and well-being do your research people are
    trusting you and shouldn’t!

    • bexchino

      Ok fair enough but can you explain why I have always burnt in the sun without creams, not tanned with creams & been a nice healthy brown with no redness & burning since switching to oils?

    • Taituara

      RJustified, reduce the capital letters and spend your time to read more. Pay attention and try, if you can, to develop a bit of criticism. Read about the research showing the real connection between melanoma and sun exposure. I’m pretty sure your awesome Doc never read them. Ask him about the chronic lack of Vitamin D that we, smart “evolved” population, developed because of the lack of sun rays exposure.

      In your last sentence you already found the solution. I didn’t read anywhere here that because you’re using oils you can cross the Mojave naked…

      BTW, check EWG. Not all the product your Doc suggested are safe, on the contrary.
      People must start to ignite their brain, otherwise Mother Nature calls it “Natural Selection” :) :)

      P.S.
      I live in New Zealand, hosting probably the most dangerous sun of the world, and guess what? I’m not a Maori, and I’m not using any chemicals. Just using these home made”crazy alchemies”. NO PROBLEM SO FAR

    • Lindsay

      In vitro sun protection factor determination of herbal oils used in cosmetics

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

    • Lindsay

      Just because one doctor said so does not make it so. Just because one blogger says so does not make it so. Do more research and personal testing before believing blindly what ANYONE says. Doctor or not. I burned almost every time I used conventional sunblock even when reapplying. When I started to use Red Raspberry oil the burns almost stopped entirely. This included my 3 week long adventure in Thailand. I did not use conventional sunblock one day out of the 21 I was there and the only days I burned were the 2 that I did not apply the oil. So because of a personal test I have conducted over the last year I know that it works for me. Also, the same goes for my sisters, husband AND both my niece and nephew. Their parents were smart and tested it SLOWLY and gradually allowed them in the sun for longer periods of time once the oil PROVED that it was providing SIGNIFICANT protection on their children. Bottom line, don’t be an idiot, be savvy and just because a doctor tells you its so does not mean it is.

  • Organic Fiji

    If anyone is looking for Certified Organic Coconut Oil check out http://www.organicfiji.com !!

  • Allard Marx

    SPF by very definition only covers UVB rays. UVB for burn. It does not provide any indication of UVA – A for aging. Be wary of these claims.

    • Shan

      SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor. That number (30, 50, etc.) indicates the amount of time a sunscreen will protect you before you burn/ need to reapply. 30= 300 minutes or 5 1/2 hours. 50= 500 minutes or 8 hours (reapplying both sooner if wet or perspiring). The term broad spectrum defines whether or not it will protect against UVA/UVB.

  • Allard Marx

    There is only one scientifically proven eco-compatible sunscreen. Patented as such. It is Aethic’s Sôvée sun screen which instead of the usual 2 sun filters has 3. Also 3 organic moisturisers, organic food grade preservatives and Vitamin E. http://www.aethic.com

  • bri888

    I am curious about using natural oils for sunblock, if I mix coconut oil and olive oil, does the spf rating stay at somewhere around 8 or does it combine to make an spf of a combined value?

    • http://livingprettynaturally.com/ Living Pretty Naturally

      Hi @bri888:disqus, unfortunately no, it will not combine to reach a higher level. x

  • Laura

    Hi LPN! I’m looking for the article you mentioned (“Pharmacognosy Magazine” in 2009) regarding carrot seed’s spf. Could you give me the full citation for that article so I can find it? Thank you!

  • Olivia

    I’ve been fascinated recently with using natural oils for sunscreen. I live in Seattle (what sun?) and have olive skin so I rarely use sunscreen. Still, its good to know that natural oils offer some protection. Thanks for sharing this!

    • Tara Williams

      Whether it’s cloudy or sunny, you should wear sunscreen on your face daily!

  • Gwen

    It didn’t make sense to me that carrot seed oil would actually have any spf properties to speak of, much less diluted in a carrier oil. I did some digging and found this explanation of the study: the sun screen that was used contained zinc, which was the active ingredient providing the spf: https://www.facebook.com/gabriel.mojay/posts/1440673469517516

  • bac

    i just tried the Badger broad spectrum SPF 30. reapplied religiously and burned anyway! very disappointing. i was in NC, but, as it was being sold there, I assumed it would work!

    • whitecasa12

      i noticed this as well with badger sunscreen, I bought it for the first time a few months ago and for some reason my husband has burned more with it than other times using other sunscreens. I want to test it someday to really see if its the sunscreen or not. One sunscreen I really loved was MyChelle Dermaceuticals Coconut Sunscreen. The only downside to it is it comes in a small bottle and doesn’t spread far so you’ll run out really fast.

  • Jay

    Hi Kate! Carrot seed oil hasn’t been proven to protect against UV, but raspberry seed oil has! My girlfriend was interested in coconut oil sunscreen and it was hard to find accurate information, so I made a list with excerpts and links to the studies. Hope this helps you and your readers!

    Natural oil SPF list: http://spflist.com

  • RyZie

    I surf and spend hours in the water… is there one that protects for longer than 40min?