Safe Ayurvedic Sunscreen Oil

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This is a continuation of Dr. Helen Thomas’ earlier article called Ayurveda on Sunshine and Sunscreen. In this article Ayurveda Doctor Thomas presents her Ayurvedic alternative to sunscreen. Do you know what natural oil Dr. Thomas will recommend? Read more to find out!

Safe Ayurvedic Sunscreen Oil

By Dr. Helen Thomas, D.C. | June 12, 2008

Dear Friend of Ayurveda,

With yesterday’s post about the hazards of most sunscreen formulas, we had many readers guessing which all-natural oil Ayurveda recommends for safe protection…

Chris Cade of Spiritual Stories & Parables wrote, “My guess is olive oil… but that’s my guess for everything! I guess I’ll just have to wait to find out.”

Actually, olive oil, being a highly polyunsaturated fat, offers little resistance to the sun…

Why Polyunsaturated Oils Offer Little Sun Resistance

Plant sources (e.g. sesame or sunflower) for polyunsaturated oils come from the north (where there is less sunlight) and offer little resistance to the sun. While saturated oils from the tropics, do. As Cynkay Morningsong commented…
“My guess would be Coconut Oil. It is the only moisturizer I’ve used for years. I have a fairly light complexion but usually look like I have a nice healthy tan because it works so well.”

That’s a good guess. And yes, summer being the pitta time of the year, coconut oil is an ideal choice for both your skin and for cooking. It actually makes your skin more vitamin D resistant, since there’s an abundance of sunlight in the summer (or in the tropics)

It was Actually Travis and Sangeet Kaur Who Got It Right…

The sunscreen oil recommended in Ayurveda is from the fruit and seeds of the evergreen neem tree, indigenous to India. Of course, neem oil is recommended for a host of issues. Indians call the Neem tree the “Village Pharmacy” (rough translation) because of its varied uses.

Application: You just need a thin layer on exposed skin. As a general recommendation, apply every 60-90 minutes or three times in a four hour period. It really depends on humidity (e.g. the desert versus the ocean), how dark and dry your skin is and how often you keep up with your daily oil massage.

Neem oil alkalizes the skin, reducing its acid content while keeping it moist. This means it won’t react to heat as easily.
Think of food in a frying pan. How do you stop it from burning and drying out? Oil. Right.

You can mix the neem oil with a little ghee or coconut oil if the neem smell is not to your liking.

In a future issue I’ll talk to you more about neem and all the other things it can do for you. But for now, I just wanted to make sure you were aware of a safe alternative to sunscreen lotion.

Why Isn’t Neem Heavily Promoted as The Ultimate Sunscreen Lotion?

As reader Hope Rose explained, “…a chemical company cannot make it for next to nothing and sell it for a bundle.” She’s right. Also, like drugs versus herbs, you can’t patent neem oil . If you can’t patent it, you can’t monopolize it. There’s just not as much profit in selling natural ingredients.

So give neem a try and let me know how it works for you and whether you have any questions about its usage. I’m here to help! You can get a bottle for under eight dollars at


Dr. Helen Thomas, D.C.
Ayurvedic Practitioner

P.S. Sue asked, “Is it also effective against mosquitoes that carry dengue fever or malaria, as I’m not really keen on smearing DEET on my skin for the entire time I’m away on holiday this summer.” Definitely, neem can both protect you from the sun and from mosquitoes. Just apply it over exposed skin as explained above. If you are suffering from bites, neem will also help with the itching and swelling.

P.P.S. For more information about skin care, check out this article I wrote, What in the World Are You Feeding Your Skin? , which explains the truth about most commercially prepared moisturizers.

P.P.P.S. We are considering (amongst other ideas) putting together a volume you could use that lists Ayurvedic Herbal Remedies for various woes. We might call it the “Ayurvedic Herbalist Handbook.” Let us know below if this is something you’d like to have in your personal library. Just leave a comment below.



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cassjack said:

on June 20th, 2012

a handbook would be awesome!


Justin said:

on August 19th, 2015

Can I use this on my face? Thanks. ~ Justin


SunYogi Reply:

Yes, neem oil is suitable for facial application. Compared to other oils, neem oil is less clogging to the skin’s pores than most. You can see that neem is rated at 1 out of 5 on the comedogenic (acne causing) ratings, with 0 being the least pore clogging and 5 being the most pore clogging. Neem oil will also clean the skin from bacteria. Neem is known to have a strong smell, with the highest quality neem oil having a stronger odor.


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