I live in Maui HI, many sunscreens are banned here due to the oxybenzone and octinoxatem they are harming the reefs in Hawaii. And personally I never liked the feel of the “safe” sunscreens with the zinc oxide in them. I started to research oils that can offer this protection. When I was teaching (yoga) in Poland in 2015, a woman approached me with a bottle of her family’s red raspberry seed oil (they produce and sell it) telling me it has a high SPF. She knew I was an aromatherapist, and I was speaking on sunscreens blocking vitamin D absorption. This sparked me into a lot of research!
Furthermore I came across a study showing zinc oxide and titanium dioxide react with heat by creating free radicals: Science direct article on organic and inorganic UV filters = zinc oxide (organic) and titanium dioxide (inorganic).
I first chose to research the oils the Polynesians have traditionally used for many generations to protect their skin and hair from the sun, specifically tamanu and coconut oil.
In researching these oils I found several that display SPF characteristics, coconut oil is about a 4 SPF, Raspberry and pomegranate seed oils are much higher at 20-50 SPF, and Tamanu oil, which was tested to offer an SPF of 18-22, among many more (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17188472/). SPF will vary from year to year depending on the harvest.
According to a small company in Vanuatu that makes tamanu oil (Volcanic Earth) “Sc Glucan in Tamanu Oil provides natural UV protection. Sc Glucan protects against UV-induced DNA damage and oxidative stress as a new biological UV filter with a SPF18-22 in ophthalmic. This natural UV filter, inhibit 85% of the DNA damage and oxidative stress induced by UV radiation at 1% concentration in opthalmic preparations” Eur J Pharm. Sci 2007 Mar;30(3-4):203-10. Epub 2006 Nov 9.
They further claim Waterproof Sun Protection Factor 30 (protects against UVa
and UVb). And INTERESTING, I noticed when I use my sun protection body oil I don’t reapply it after swimming and I still don’t get sunburn. Perhaps its absorption into the skin provides protection so you don’t need to reapply, or because its an oil that is not water soluble vs. other sunscreen products that are water soluble.
Based on this research I chose the oils of tamanu, pomegranate, and coconut for protection from the sun.
For the Essential Oil Blend, I chose:
Commiphora myrrha (Myrrh) – In addition to offering a mild sun protection, myrrh is very supportive of healing the skin and maintaining its health, along with being a powerful antioxidant for the skin, it also has antibacterial, anti-fungal, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties. It also has a slightly cooling property. Myrrh has to protect itself from brutal sun where it grows, I figured its resin may help us do the same.
Helichrysum italicum (Helichrysum) – I chose this because it was one of the essential oils listed in the reference books as having an SPF activity, in addition helichrysum is a flower that is gentle to the skin and cooling, it also is highly anti-inflammatory, it boosts your skins natural collagen production thereby helping to prevent wrinkles. It is also supportive to the skin in helping to heal wounds, bruises, and scars.
This lotion feels good on your skin and would stand alone as a body or facial lotion that is nourishing for the skin and lymph.
While I can make no claims on its SPF, this lotion has been tested by many people; from using it to protect their skin doing yard work, biking, walking in the sun, vacationing, and even at the beach it prevented sunburn. As always test on yourself first by applying to one forearm while you apply what you have been using on the rest of you body and compare your results after sunning.
It is a lovely light green color due to the tamanu oil.
Ingredients: Tamanu oil, coconut oil, pomegranate oil, rose hydrosol, aloe vera, beeswax, vitamin E oil, and essential oils of Helichrysum & Myrrh
4 oz jar = $30.00
Contact Bobbi at 717/443-1119 or firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in ordering.
Topical plant powered sun protection
Time to push back on the cosmetic industry and the FDA to let them know by speaking with your pocketbook that you are no longer interested in toxic sunscreens for humans and marine life. How? With a little research you can experiment with mixing together some oils that have been tested to offer SPF — and I even include oils that, well have not been scientifically tested but have a history of use (along with evidence based research) to protect your skin such as tamanu oil.
According to pubmed, most all non-volatile herbal oils (aka carrier oils) have some SPF as well as many volatile oils (essential oils). In general most carrier oils offer 2-8 SPF and most essential oils offer 1-7 SPF. While this is not high, do we really need that high of an SPF, I remember when I was a teenager and SPF of about eight was normally what we used and I was just fine with that. There are specific oils that test in vitro higher for SPF. Raspberry seed oil is the tops testing in consistently at 28-50 SPF, olive oil also shows to be higher in SPF but not anywhere close to Raspberry seed oil. And not all oils have been tested to date, only a handful of oils -so this list over time as we test more may become quite prolific. Here is a list of some of the oils tested:
Carrier oils with SPF
Raspberry seed oil = 28-50 SPF
Pomegranate seed oil = 30 SPF
Wheatgerm oil + Vitamin E = 15 SPF
Avocado oil = SPF 15
Hazelnut = SPF 15
Coconut = SPF 8
Hemp seed oil = 6 SPF
Macadamia nut oil = 6 SPF
Almond oil = 5 SPF
Sea Buckthorn = 2-4 SPF
Historically my favorite Tamanu oil — a rich luscious green oil was used by the Polynesians to protect the skin and hair from the sun.
Essential oils with SPF
Calendula – 8.36 SPF
Peppermint – 7 SPF
Tulsi – 7 SPF (can be quite caustic topically, highly dilute)
Geranium – 6.5 SPF
Lavender – 6 SPF
Sweet Orange – 4 SPF
Eucalyptus – 3 SPF
Tea Tree – 2 SPF
Rose – 1 SPF
Historically I have found helichrysum and myrrh to be used for protection from the sun.
Here is further research on MDPI about pomegranate and shea butter being very successful in sunscreens; they replaced some of the zinc oxide and titanium dioxide with pomegranate or shea with good results. https://www.mdpi.com/2079-9284/6/2/25