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this post has been originally published in the summer of 2015; therefore, some of the information provided here may be outdated (such as studies on the UV capabilities of Raspberry Seed Oil, which some of you have kindly pointed out).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!
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.
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
Can Carrot Seed Oil Provide Safe and Effective Sun Protection?
The internet abounds with DIY sunscreen recipes and products you can buy that claim carrot seed oil is an effective, natural sunscreen. Some say that carrot seed oil has a high SPF of 30 or 40. But is this really true?
Carrot seed oil does have health benefits, but protection from the sun is not one of them. Like carrot oil, carrot seed oil has no known SPF, and should not be used as a sunscreen.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at carrot seed oil, and examine the evidence surrounding its sun protection claim.
Carrot seed oil is an essential oil that can be used on the skin, when mixed with a carrier oil. It’s derived from the seeds of the Daucus carota plant.
Carrot seed oil contains various chemical compounds, including:
- geranyl acetate
The compounds in carrot seed oil produce a variety of health benefits, including:
Commercially-prepared sunscreens are typically labeled with a number that indicates sun protection factor (SPF). An SPF refers to the amount of time you can stay in the sun before UVB rays start to redden and burn your skin.
The CDC recommends using a sunscreen that contains at least an SPF of 15, in addition to other protective measures, such as wearing a wide-brimmed hat. Some dermatologists recommend using only SPFs of 30 or higher.
In addition to SPF, it’s important to use a sunscreen that is broad-spectrum. This means it protects against both UVA and UVB rays. UVA and UVB are two kinds of ultraviolet radiation that come from the sun.
UVB rays cause sunburns. UVA rays cause photoaging, and also increase the cancer-causing effects of UVB. Unlike sunscreen, sunblock only shields your skin from UVB rays.
SPF of carrot seed oil
So, does carrot seed oil do the job of a high-SPF sunscreen? Despite a 2009 study that claimed it does, the answer is no.
The study, published in Pharmacognosy Magazine, tested 14 unnamed, herbal sunscreens, purchased by a single distributor based in Raipur, Chhattisgarh, India.
The full ingredient list for each sunscreen was not disclosed. For this reason, it’s impossible to know which ingredient produced the SPF effect.
This very small study also didn’t make clear which type of carrot oil the sunscreens contained, listing it only as Daucus carota. Carrot oil, which is a carrier oil and not an essential oil, does have a slight ability to protect skin from the sun. It does not, however, have a known SPF and should not be used as a sunscreen.
No known SPF
Like carrot oil, carrot seed essential oil has no known SPF, and should not be used as a sunscreen.
There are no other studies that indicate carrot seed essential oil or carrot oil offer significant protection from the sun.
Carrot seed oil used as a moisturizer in commercial sunscreen products
Adding to the confusion for consumers may be the number of products that contain carrot seed oil as an ingredient. These products typically include carrot seed oil for its moisturizing benefits, not for its ability to protect against UVA and UVB rays.
Since carrot seed oil is an essential oil, it can’t be used on your skin full-strength. Like all essential oils, carrot seed oil must be mixed with a carrier oil before applying topically. For this reason, it cannot be used as a tanning oil.
Tanning oils, including those with SPFs, attract the sun’s UVA rays to your skin. Some people use them to try to tan safely, but there is no way to get a safe tan. All unprotected sun exposure can cause skin cancer and skin aging over time.
Some tanning oils and tanning accelerators list carrot seed oil as an ingredient, but it’s there to moisturize skin, not to protect it from the sun. These products may also include carrot oil, which is often confused for carrot seed oil.
Carrot seed oil is distilled from the seeds of the Daucus carota plant, whereas carrot oil is made from crushed-up carrots. Carrot oil is sometimes used as an ingredient in tanning oils as a skin stain, since it may add a slight bronze, or orange tint to skin.
It has been several decades since the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued new guidelines for sunscreen safety. Recently, they proposed new regulations indicating that physical, non-absorptive sunscreens containing zinc oxide or titanium oxide are the only ones with GRAS (generally recognized as safe) status. Both of these ingredients are minerals.
Even through zinc oxide and titanium oxide are chemicals, sunscreens that contain them are often referred to as natural, or physical. This means that the ingredients do not penetrate the skin but rather block the sun by sitting on top of skin.
Natural sunscreens containing minerals provide varying SPFs, as indicated on their label. They differ from DIY and other sunscreens made from oils, juices, or fruit juice powders, as these provide very little or no protection from the sun.
The FDA is planning on issuing additional rules for chemical sunscreens and their labeling process later this year, after they’ve examined 12 Category III sunscreen ingredients, including oxybenzone. Category III means there’s not enough scientific data to indicate whether they’re safe to use or not.
Downsides of oxybenzone
Oxybenzone has been found in the world’s waters, and may contribute to coral reef bleaching and coral death. It’s also absorbed through the skin, and has been found in amniotic fluid, blood plasma, urine, and human breast milk.
Oxybenzone is also an endocrine disruptor, which may adversely affect the hormonal systems of men, women, and children. In addition, it’s been linked to low birth weight, allergies, and cell damage.
Carrot seed oil has many benefits including being an antioxidant, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory. However, carrot seed oil does not provide any protection from the sun. Learn more about the properties of carrot seed oil, what the research says, and how best to protect your skin from the sun.