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Can Raspberry and Carrot seed oils really protect your skin from the sun?

Posted by Aleksandra Andrade on February 23, 2017

“Before you read, please keep in mind that this post has been originally published in the summer of 2015; therefore, some of the information provided here may be outdated (such as studies on the UV capabilities of Raspberry Seed Oil, which some of you have kindly pointed out). This fact, however, does not change my point of view on the issue.”

– Yours, AA

In the past couple years there has been an increasing interest around the use of natural oils as sunscreens. There are hundreds (if not more) blog posts and DIY sunscreen recipes all over the internet that promise all-natural UV protection. In this post I will try to get to the bottom of this subject by providing facts and busting the myths around the most popular oils with high SPF claims – Raspberry Seed and Carrot Seed Oils.

Let’s start with the basics and talk about what sunscreen is and what SPF stands for.

Sunscreen (also commonly known as sun screen, sunblock, suntan lotion, sunburn cream, sun cream or block out) is a lotion, spray, gel or other topical product that absorbs or reflects some of the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation on the skin exposed to sunlight and thus helps protect against sunburn.

SPF – or Sun Protection Factor – is a measure of a sunscreen’s ability to prevent UVB from damaging the skin. Here’s how it works: If it takes 20 minutes for your unprotected skin to start turning red, using an SPF 15 sunscreen theoretically prevents reddening 15 times longer – about five hours. SPF does not equal the amount of protection. It indicates how long will it take for the skin to redden when a particular product is applied, as compared to unprotected skin.

There are 2 types of UV radiation (Well, it’s technically 3 but UVC – the 3rd type, doesn’t reach the earth as it is absorbed by the ozone layer). So the first type is UVA light which has a longer wave and this is the type of radiation that causes the aging, wrinkling. UVA is also known as a “tanning” rays. The second type – UVB, has a shorter wave length and is considered to be the main cause of sunburns. Both types of UV radiation are attributed to skin cancer. In order to be protected from both types we should choose a sunscreen that is broad spectrum.

More people are looking for natural alternatives to chemical UV filters that are commonly used in conventional sunscreens. It is known that some natural oils and butters, such as Jojoba, Avocado, Shea and a few others possess a small amount of SPF (around 2-4). This amount is however rather too small to provide with any significant protection against of the UV rays. This SPF claims also can not be considered trustworthy since the SPF can vary depending on the methods of extraction and individual quality of raw material used. On top of this, here in the USA sunscreen is considered to be an over-the-counter drug, thus it is strictly regulated by the FDA. One can not just mix a few ingredients that hypothetically may contain an SPF and call it a sunscreen. The two oils that have been widely advertised for having a high SPF by the bloggers and diy’ers are the Raspberry and Carrot Seed oils.

So what is Raspberry Seed Oil?

This is how I have described Raspberry Seed in one of my previous posts:

Highly moisturizing and emollient Red Raspberry (aka Rubus idaeus) seed oil is bright gold to reddish in color with characteristic fruity aroma. It contains high amounts of alpha and gamma tocopherols (Vitamin E), polyphenols and Vitamin C. It is also rich in Vitamin A and contains up to 83% omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Red raspberry seed oil has more pronounced anti-inflammatory properties than avocado, grapeseed, hazelnut and wheatgerm oils and may prove to be the most effective oil to use in the treatment of eczema, psoriasis and other skin conditions. Due to a high level of Vitamin A it can also be beneficial in on oily and acneic skin types. Its strong antioxidant, nourishing and healing properties along with a stable shelf life make it an attractive ingredient for many types of skincare products.

So, Raspberry seed oil is a carrier oil with great anti-oxidant properties.

Now, lets talk about Carrot Seed Oil.

Carrot seed oil is the essential oil extract of the seed from the carrot plant Daucus carota. The oil has a woody, earthy sweet smell and is yellow or amber-coloured to pale orange-brown in appearance. The pharmocologically active constituents of carrot seed extract are three flavones: luteolin, luteolin 3′-O-beta-D-glucopyranoside, and luteolin 4′-O-beta-D-glucopyranoside.[Wikipedia]

Carrot Seed oil is not a carrier oil, on the other hand. It normally comes in a form of an essential oil. Essential oils have a different chemical composition to carrier oils and normally should not be used at a full strength (undiluted).

So what is the hype about the oils photo protective capabilities?

Many sources claim that Raspberry Seed Oil contains an SPF of 28-40 and Carrot Seed Oil – 30-40. This seems high, isn’t it? But what is the source of these claims? Where is the proof, a study or anything related? Here is what Robert Tisserand (one of the world’s leading expert in aromatherapy) have said on his official Facebook page:

“I have been asked a few times recently to provide evidence that carrot seed essential oil is not an effective sunscreen. I think the onus is on those who claim that it is a sunscreen to provide some substantiating evidence. The purported 38-40 SPF for carrot seed oil is based on some Indian research where they tested a natural sunscreen product that contained “Daucus carota” AND OTHER INGREDIENTS, and the product had an SPF of 38 in one test, and 40 in another. This does not mean that carrot seed oil of any type has a meaningful SPF. It’s more likely that they used carrot seed fatty oil than any other type of carrot extract, but the article does not give us that information. So, carrot seed FATTY oil may be very slightly sun-protective, but it has no known SPF. And, there are no essential oils that meaningfully filter UV rays.

The bogus claim that carrot seed oil and/or essential oil provides a sun protection factor (SPF) of 38-40 is made largely on websites belonging to ‘Independent Distributors’ of Young Living products. The claim rests solely on an article that appeared in Pharmacognosy Magazine in 2009. http://www.phcog.com/article.asp…Having studied the article in question – and in particular the chart listing the un-named and therefore coded 14 ‘natural’ sunscreen products tested – I am convinced that it provides no basis whatsoever for claiming that carrot seed oil and/or essential oil provides a SPF of 38-40.The reason? Because the only product tested (‘HS3’) containing Daucus carota, together with ‘Symplocos’ and ‘wheat germ’, listed here. http://www.phcog.com/viewimage.asp…. is quite obviously this product. http://www.ayurvikalp.com/…/Biotique-CARROT-Face-Body-Sun-L…. which contains zinc. It is primarily the zinc which makes the cream SPF 38-40, not the carrot seed oil and/or essential oil (the ‘Independent Distributors’ tend to refer to them interchangeably). People should be warned against making their own carrot oil-based sun protective cream, erroneously believing it will protect them against UV rays – especially where 3-year-old children are concerned. http://www.newsreview.com/chico/sunscreen-naturally/content…

As for Raspberry Seed Oil, I was not able to find any studies or proof showing that it has any sun-protective capabilities, so I have decided to conduct a little experiment of my own. One a cloudy day a few weeks ago, I have applied an Organic Raspberry Seed Oil on my face and neck and went for a walk in a local botanical garden. Our botanical garden had plenty of shade and I was not in the sun most of the time. My walk lasted for about 1,5-2 hours. A few hours after getting back to the house I have assessed the ‘damage’. As a result of this experiment I did develop sun-induced erythema (redness). My skin was also flaking during the days #2 and #3 following this experiment. The conclusion? Raspberry Seed oil does not provide with adequate protection from the sun!

As much as I advocate for natural skin care solutions as a holistic esthetician, I can not recommend using any oils in place of your sunscreen. Whether they are used alone or mixed together in a balm, these oils DO NOT provide with sun protection. They however can be a great addition to a properly formulated sunscreen and can also help with skin soothing and regeneration after the sun exposure. If you still need more proof, check out this article posted by Formula Botanica on their website.

Raspberry Seed oil has a pretty impressive antioxidant profile. It is rich in Omega-3 and Omega-6 essential fatty acids and contains a high level of Vitamin E. It’s anti-inflammatory properties are phenomenal and are said to be even greater than those of Avocado, Grapeseed and Wheatgerm oils. Even though I don’t recommend using it in place of a sunscreen, I love using Raspberry Seed oil in my oil-serum formulations like this “Youthful Glow” antioxidant face oil. This light and silky face oil formula is loaded with antioxidants. It helps rejuvenate dull and environmentally damaged skin and restores youthful glow in any skin type.

As always I hope you found this post useful. Please choose your sunscreen wisely and always practice safe sun!

9 comments

Thanks for your well informed article. While I respect the comments about the study showing red raspberry seed oil having high spf protection this same study states that the UVA protection properties of Red raspberry seed oil are only spf8. UVA rays penetrate deep into skin layers and does substantial long term damage to your skin. I am an avid maker of my own products but sun protection is one product I am going to leave to experts. Hunt around for some brands that are properly tested and will protect your skin. Skin cancer is not something you want to risk.

Many Essential oil only Protect from UVB not UVA. So you can still get burned.

Thank you so much for your unbiased information plus your own personal experimentation.
It gets confusing because like anyone else I want go as natural as possible, but I will from now on use your advice.
Thank you.

The 2000 study wasn’t done on Raspberry oil they don’t even use the equipment required to do that. They referenced something from a sunscreen ingredient manufacturer called Kobo. They also took the information out of context. There are at least 20 major sunscreen ingredient manufacturers in the world, if raspberry oil provided an UV spf of 28-50 and uva of 7 they would take the world by storm and be taking over a market eager for natural ingredients. Not even Kobo uses raspberry oil in any of their sunscreen ingredients. Is there some spf in raspberry oil, yes, as there is in any plant oil or any cream or lotion one applies to their skin. It’s one thing to see information on google, it’s another thing to analyze it and follow the trail for accurate information. As well, the one study from India was done by one man who recorded things correctly, but those quoting his study don’t bother to think things through and analyze what he recorded, properly. How he recorded it then has to be converted to real spfs, which those quoting it and the 2000 reference, don’t do. Plant oils don’t and can’t give more than about a uvb rating of 6 or 7, but again, that can be attained by putting a plain lotion with no oils on ones skin. Are there some benefits for the skin from plant oils, for sure. Is it possible that a plant oil can boost a typical sunscreen ingredient a little bit in a sunscreen product, yes.

*Apologies – in my last comment I mentioned there was a citation “above”, not realizing the order the comments are posted!!

"Before you read, please keep in mind that this post has been originally published in the summer of 2015; therefore, some of the information provided here may be outdated (such as studies on the UV capabilities of Raspberry Seed Oil, which some of you have kindly pointed out). This fact, however, does not change my poi

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.

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 ]]>