Skin Protection From UV Rays: Coconut's Hidden Benefit

  • Nurah Ekhlaque Masters in Biotechnology, Guru Ghasidas University, India
  • Christina Weir MSc, Biotechnology, Bioprocessing & Business Management, University of Warwick, UK

Are you worried about safeguarding your skin from the detrimental impacts of UV rays? We have great news for you! In this article, we will unveil a hidden treasure in the realm of skincare - coconut oil. Explore how coconut oil can serve as your covert ally in shielding your skin from UV harm.

The power of coconut oil

Coconut oil has been utilized for centuries in various cultures for its impressive health and beauty benefits. While it's widely recognized for its culinary applications and moisturizing properties, its ability to offer protection against UV rays is a somewhat lesser-known advantage. Here's how coconut oil can be beneficial for your skin in terms of UV protection:

Natural Sunscreen: Coconut oil contains natural compounds that act as a sunscreen. It possesses an SPF (Sun Protection Factor) of approximately 4-6, which provides some degree of protection against UVB rays. While it may not replace dedicated sunscreens for prolonged sun exposure, it can serve as an excellent addition to your daily skincare routine for occasional sun exposure.

Antioxidant Properties: Coconut oil is abundant in antioxidants, such as vitamin E, that assist in neutralizing the detrimental effects of free radicals produced by exposure to UV rays. This means it can help prevent premature aging caused by sun damage, including the development of wrinkles and age spots.

Skin Hydration: Sun exposure can lead to dry and damaged skin. Coconut oil's emollient properties assist in maintaining the skin's natural moisture barrier. Applying coconut oil after sun exposure can soothe and hydrate the skin, aiding in its recovery.

Anti-Inflammatory Effects: UV rays can cause skin inflammation and redness. Coconut oil's anti-inflammatory properties can help alleviate these symptoms, reducing discomfort and promoting skin healing.

Skin Repair: In addition to protection, coconut oil can aid in repairing sun-damaged skin. Its fatty acids support the regeneration of skin cells, assisting in the recovery process.

Read on

However, there's more to discover about how coconut oil can become your skin's ally in the fight against UV damage. In the following sections, we will delve further into its advantages and offer guidance on how to use it effectively for sun protection.

Understanding the science behind coconut oil and UV protection

To comprehend how coconut oil protects against UV rays, it is essential to delve into the scientific aspects. Coconut oil is rich in medium-chain fatty acids, particularly lauric acid, celebrated for its antimicrobial and photoprotective qualities. When applied to the skin, these fatty acids form a delicate protective film that deflects some of the UV radiation, acting as a natural shield.

Furthermore, the antioxidants present in coconut oil, such as vitamin E, play a crucial role in neutralizing free radicals generated by UV radiation. This prevents oxidative stress and the resultant skin damage.

How to use coconut oil for UV protection

Now that you're acquainted with how coconut oil can assist in shielding your skin from UV damage, here are some practical pointers on how to incorporate it into your skincare routine:

  • Daily Moisturiser: Utilise coconut oil as your everyday moisturizer by applying a small amount to your face and body. This will establish a fundamental level of protection for your skin.
  • Pre-Sun Exposure: Before going outdoors, apply a thin layer of coconut oil to the exposed areas of your skin. Keep in mind that while it does offer some protection, it should not replace a dedicated sunscreen for prolonged sun exposure.
  • Post-Sun Soothing: After spending time in the sun, apply coconut oil to soothe and moisturize your skin. It can help alleviate any redness or dryness resulting from sun exposure.
  • Mix with Your Sunscreen: Enhance your sunscreen by mixing it with coconut oil. This combination can provide added moisturization and antioxidant benefits.
  • Lip Balm: Don't forget your lips! Apply coconut oil to keep your lips moisturized and shielded from UV rays.
  • Incorporating Coconut Oil into Your Daily Skincare Routine: Now that you understand the fantastic benefits of coconut oil for UV protection, let's explore how to effectively include it in your everyday skincare routine.

Morning routine:

  • Cleansing: Kickstart your day with a gentle facial cleanser to remove impurities and excess oils.
  • Toning: Apply a natural, alcohol-free toner to rebalance your skin's pH levels.
  • Moisturizing: Following toning, apply a small amount of coconut oil to your face and body. This will serve as your daily moisturizer and offer baseline UV protection.
  • Sunscreen: If you anticipate prolonged exposure to direct sunlight, layer your coconut oil with a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher.

Evening routine:

  • Cleansing: Remove makeup and cleanse your face with a gentle cleanser to wash away the day's impurities.
  • Exfoliation (2-3 times a week): Exfoliate your skin to remove dead cells and promote healthy cell turnover. Create a natural exfoliator by mixing coconut oil with sugar or coffee grounds.
  • Toning: Reapply toner to rebalance your skin's pH.
  • Moisturizing: Use coconut oil as your nighttime moisturizer. It will hydrate your skin while you sleep.

Weekly treatments:

  • Face Masks: Treat your skin to a coconut oil face mask once a week. Blend coconut oil with ingredients like honey, yogurt, or mashed avocado for a luxurious at-home spa experience.
  • Lip Care: Apply coconut oil to your lips daily, especially before bedtime, to keep them soft and shielded.

Keep in mind that maintaining a regular routine is essential for experiencing the advantages of coconut oil for your skin. By integrating it into both your morning and evening routines, you'll provide your skin with continuous hydration and UV protection.

Coconut Oil and Aloe Vera: A Dynamic Duo for Skin Care: While coconut oil offers substantial UV protection and skin benefits on its own, combining it with aloe vera can elevate your skincare routine. Aloe vera is well-known for its calming and reparative attributes, rendering it a perfect partner for coconut oil in combating the effects of UV damage.

Here's how to create a simple yet effective DIY coconut oil and aloe vera gel for sun protection:


  • 2 tablespoons of coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh aloe vera gel (scoop it from a leaf if possible)
  • 1-2 drops of essential oil (e.g., lavender or chamomile for added skin benefits)


  • Mix the coconut oil and aloe vera gel together in a bowl.
  • Add a couple of drops of your chosen essential oil and mix thoroughly.
  • Place the mixture in a pristine, airtight container for storage.
  • Apply this natural sun-protective lotion before sun exposure and reapply as needed.

This DIY mixture combines the UV shielding properties of coconut oil with the calming attributes of aloe vera. It's especially advantageous for individuals with sensitive skin or those interested in using a natural substitute for store-bought sunscreens.

Conclusion: Coconut oil is a natural treasure with numerous benefits, including protection against UV rays. Its adaptability, coupled with its innate sun protection qualities, renders it a superb inclusion in your skincare routine. While it may not replace dedicated sunscreens for extended sun exposure, it offers a holistic approach to skincare by providing moisture, antioxidants, and soothing effects.

So, the next time you consider skincare, contemplate the power of coconut oil. By embracing this natural wonder, you'll not only protect your skin from UV damage but also enjoy the many other benefits it has to offer. Remember to be consistent with its use, and you'll be well on your way to healthier, more radiant skin.


Coconut oil is a multifunctional and organic solution that offers significant defense against UV radiation. With its sunblock attributes, antioxidants, and ability to nurture the skin, coconut oil can serve as a valuable enhancement to your skincare regimen. Although it may not serve as a complete replacement for dedicated sunscreens during prolonged sun exposure, it can certainly offer an additional layer of defense for your skin.

So, the next time you're enjoying the sun, consider using coconut oil to enhance your skin's protection. Keep in mind to use it regularly and pair it with additional sun safety precautions like donning protective attire and finding shade as needed.


Is coconut oil a suitable substitute for regular sunscreen?

While coconut oil does provide some degree of UV protection, it should not be used as a sole replacement for dedicated sunscreens with higher SPF values. It is best used as an extra layer of protection or for incidental sun exposure.

Can coconut oil be applied to sensitive skin?

While coconut oil is typically well-tolerated by most skin types, those with highly sensitive or acne-prone skin may consider performing a patch test initially. Should any irritation arise, cease usage immediately.

How frequently should I use coconut oil for UV protection?

For daily use, apply coconut oil as a moisturizer in the morning. If you plan to spend an extended period in the sun, reapply every two hours or as needed. However, for comprehensive protection, also use a dedicated sunscreen.

Can I use coconut oil on my face before applying makeup?

Yes, you can use coconut oil as a moisturizer before applying makeup. However, use it sparingly, as excessive application may affect the durability of your makeup.

Does coconut oil protect against both UVA and UVB rays?

Coconut oil primarily offers protection against UVB rays. To ensure comprehensive shielding against both UVA and UVB rays, it is recommended to opt for a sunscreen labeled as providing broad-spectrum protection.


  1. Lin, Tzu-Kai, et al. "Anti-Inflammatory and Skin Barrier Repair Effects of Topical Application of Some Plant Oils." International Journal of Molecular Sciences 19, no. 1 (December 2017): 70. DOI: 10.3390/ijms19010070.
  2. Varma, Sandeep R., et al. "In Vitro Anti-Inflammatory and Skin Protective Properties of Virgin Coconut Oil." Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine 9, no. 1 (January 2019): 5-14. ScienceDirect. DOI: 10.1016/j.jtcme.2017.06.012.
  3. Widiyati, E., et al. "The Effectiveness Test of Sunscreen Cream with Raw Material of Coconut Oil and Active Ingredients of Bay (Eugenia Polyantha Wight) Leaf Ethanol Extract and TiO2." Journal of Physics: Conference Series 1940, no. 1 (June 2021): 012039. DOI: 10.1088/1742-6596/1940/1/012039.
  4. Saraf, Swarnlata, and ChanchalDeep Kaur. ‘In Vitro Sun Protection Factor Determination of Herbal Oils Used in Cosmetics’. Pharmacognosy Research, vol. 2, no. 1, 2010, p. 22. (Crossref),
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Nurah Ekhlaque

Masters in Biotechnology, Guru Ghasidas University

I'm a highly motivated and skilled biotechnology professional, known for my strong background in research and laboratory work. My proficiency extends to cryosectioning, immunohistochemistry, confocal imaging, and various molecular biology techniques. I am detail-oriented and dedicated to consistently producing high-quality results.

My educational journey led me to a Master's degree in Biotechnology from Guru Ghasidas Vishwavidyalaya, India. This academic foundation, combined with my practical experience, fuels my commitment to advancing scientific research and improving human health.

My practical experience includes roles as a Research Assistant at Saarland University in Germany and as an Internship Research Trainee at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences. In these positions, I mastered the use of cryosectioning, immunohistochemistry, and various laboratory techniques, consistently delivering high-quality data for scientific research. presents all health information in line with our terms and conditions. It is essential to understand that the medical information available on our platform is not intended to substitute the relationship between a patient and their physician or doctor, as well as any medical guidance they offer. Always consult with a healthcare professional before making any decisions based on the information found on our website.
Klarity is a citizen-centric health data management platform that enables citizens to securely access, control and share their own health data. Klarity Health Library aims to provide clear and evidence-based health and wellness related informative articles. 
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