Does Raspberry Seed Oil Really Hold Its Own Against SPF For Sun Protection?

Plant-based skincare is really having a moment in 2023. The anti-aging holy grail, retinol, is facing being dethroned for a less irritating natural ingredient known as bakuchiol peptides. Now, there are claims being made that humble raspberry seed oil can be as effective as sunscreen for blocking out harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. Raspberry seed oil is made from the seed of the berry, unlike raspberry essential oil, which is made from the fruit's flesh.


Raspberry seeds contain high levels of essential fatty acids, carotenoids, antioxidants, and vitamins A and E. There is plenty of evidence that these components are skincare heavy hitters, making raspberry seed oil an excellent choice for boosting hydration, cell renewal, and collagen production. Essential fatty acids are even known to reduce inflammation. But, how does any of that equate to sun protection? Can you really ditch your SPF for a natural oil? We did the research, so you don't have to. 

Raspberry seed oil vs. sunscreen

There is evidence, according to Healthline, that raspberry seed oil is capable of absorbing certain types of UV rays. This means that applying the oil to your skin could prevent those particular rays from penetrating the skin barrier and causing damage that could equate to premature aging, sunburn, or even skin cancer. However, raspberry seed oil does not absorb one of the two most harmful types of ultraviolet rays: UVA rays.


While raspberry seed oil appears to offer some level of natural sun protection, it is not comparable to commercially prepared sunscreens, which protect from both UVA and UVB rays. If you are concerned about the chemicals present in many traditional sunscreens, consider a mineral sunscreen, which blocks harmful rays without absorbing into your skin (via MD Anderson Cancer Center). For extra sun protection along with a healthy dose of hydration and nutrients, you can always prime your skin with a layer of raspberry seed oil before applying your mineral sunscreen. 

The role of UVA, UVB, and UVC rays

Ultraviolet rays are natural forms of radiation given off by the sun. Artificial UV radiation has also been created in the form of tanning bulbs and some other manmade light sources. Both natural and artificial UV rays can effectively stimulate the production of vitamin D in humans. Unfortunately, both can also contribute to premature aging, sunburn, and skin cancer. However, not all ultraviolet rays are created equal.


There are three different types of ultraviolet rays: UVA, UVB, and UVC. The longer the wavelength, the more capable the ray is of penetrating the earth's atmosphere. Since UVA rays have the longest wavelength of the three types, they are the most likely to reach and damage your skin. The next highest risk is UVB rays, which are partially absorbed by the atmosphere. Finally, UVC rays are fully absorbed by Earth's atmosphere and pose no real threat to your skin. Since raspberry seed oil only absorbs UVB rays, using it alone would leave your skin susceptible to damage by the most harmful type of sun radiation, UVA rays. The verdict is in: There is no substitute for sunscreen.