Is it nuts to use coconut oil as a sunscreen?

Some people believe that if you can’t eat it, you shouldn’t put it on your skin. This is based on a theory that chemicals from skincare products can enter your system or that they’re ‘toxic’. Connected to this, ‘natural’ and ‘clean’ are popular and common trend in the skincare world.

In the context of our small and very specific domain of sun protection, certain bloggers, beauticians, influencers (and sometimes even medics) endorse avocado and honey masks, natural oils, butters and juices as the perfect remedy to both of these trends.

A quick search on YouTube for ‘natural sunscreen’ will show up hundreds of hits on why coconut oil, as one example, is the perfect natural sunscreen instead of pharmaceutical alternatives.

So, it’s only reasonable you might wonder where the truth lies and our thoughts on all of this.

#1 – DO WHAT YOU WANT AND WHAT YOU BELIEVE IN (OBVIOUSLY)

Sexuality. Religion. Political leaning. Exercise regime. Diet. Football team. It’s all down to you and do what you believe in.

If natural skincare is your thing, then OK. But, without wishing to give the game away too early, when it comes to skincare, it’s a bad choice.

#2 – LET’S BE CLEAR ABOUT THE TERM ‘NATURAL’

The word ‘natural’ in skincare is a red herring.

Firstly, everything is a chemical, even water.

Secondly, there’s no global standard on what allows you to use the word ‘natural’ for skincare products. It’s an unregulated definition and some ‘natural’ products contain less than 5% of naturally-derived ingredients.

Thirdly, what does ‘natural’ mean? Does it mean preservative free? Does it mean from plants only? Does it need to be 100% natural to be truly natural? Perceptions are very different depending on who you ask.

Finally, who’s to say natural is better? Some natural ingredients still cause irritation, allergies or reactions. Some ingredients might be natural in their original form but chemically processed by the time they get put into a tube.

It’s a minefield.

#3 – SKIN PROTECTION SCIENCE

Protecting your skin from the sun and its ultraviolet rays is incredibly important. Whether that’s for cosmetic reasons (to minimise the effect UV can have on ageing your skin prematurely) or for health reasons (to help prevent skin disease and cancer).

The most commonly referenced study into natural oils, butters and juices being used as sun protection was pretty clear: these products offer insufficient UV protection. The study subjected aloe vera, canola oil, raspberry seed oil, coconut oil and other natural ingredients to the same rigorous laboratory tests that pharmaceutical and cosmetic sun protection products are required to undergo before they can be put onto shelves. While coconut oil, as one example, does possess natural UV-blocking properties, these properties are inadequate to offer proper protection. The equivalent SPF of coconut oil is somewhere between 1-4 and that just isn’t enough.

Bottom line: you don’t want to compromise on efficaciousness when it comes to protecting your skin, and that’s what ‘natural’ or ‘clean’ will do.

#4 – COCONUT OIL DEFINITELY HAS A PLACE IN SKIN CARE

Dry skin? Inflamed skin? Dull looking hair?

Then yes, coconut oil can be a good option and has been used for centuries for numerous topical applications. As well as moisturising, it also has antiseptic and anti-fungal properties.

SO, WHAT DOES THIS MEAN IN THE CONTEXT OF LIFEJACKET?

Going back to the first thing I said, do what you believe in. If natural is your thing, then we’re not for you.

We believe in high performance protection from UVA and UVB rays. We use a combination of physical and chemical sun filters in our skincare products (and very specific fabrics and weaves in our UPF clothing) to achieve that.

Our belief is that chemically formulated skin protection products, which have been clinically and dermatologically tested, offer the best defence against sun damage. They’re also deemed to be safe for humans, at the levels we use them, by European regulatory bodies.

One day, science and medicine might prove us wrong. But for now, that’s what we stand by and we hope you do too.