What Is Natural Sunscreen?

Natural Sunscreen on Face

While there isn’t a standard definition of “natural sunscreen,” the term generally refers to mineral sunscreens that create a physical barrier to block the sun’s UV rays. But is natural sunscreen safe and effective? What are the ingredients in natural sunscreens? And are there any downsides to natural sunscreens? Continue below for our answers to these questions and more as we examine natural sunscreens!

What Makes a Sunscreen “Natural?”

As stated above, there isn’t any agreed upon technical standard to determine if a sunscreen is natural or not. Typically, the label “natural” refers to mineral (or physical) sunscreens. Mineral sunscreens, as opposed to chemical sunscreens, contain titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide. These two minerals deflect UV rays, and therefore form a barrier when applied to the surface of your skin.

Critics might argue that although titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are naturally mined from the earth, they are still heavily refined before being used in natural sunscreens. Meanwhile, proponents of natural sunscreens would claim these minerals as far more “natural” than the chemical ingredients found in non-mineral sunscreens, such as commercially-produced oxybenzone, octinoxate, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene and so on. We should note, though, that even some of these chemical ingredients can be found in nature. Still, commercial sunscreen production seldom (if ever) sources these ingredients naturally.

Are Natural Sunscreens Safe to Use?

Natural sunscreens are also called physical sunscreens or “sunblock” because their primary active ingredients remain on the skin’s surface. In reality, it appears as though titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are less absorbable, but can still be absorbed into your skin. There is evidence that trace amounts of both minerals can be absorbed, but with a “lack of significant dermal penetration,” especially when compared to chemical ingredients found in non-physical sunscreens. Absorption matters because some chemical ingredients may disrupt hormone activity. Natural sunscreens, on the other hand, are not known to disrupt hormone levels.

If you are concerned about sunscreen absorption, then a natural sunscreen should at least be more reassuring than a chemical alternative. Likewise, if you are prone to breaking out or have an allergic reaction to any chemical ingredients, consider testing a natural sunscreen to see if your skin responds better.

Natural Sunscreen on Skin

Are Natural Sunscreens Safe for Coral Reefs?

If you are using sunscreen in the water, then you should also consider how it may impact your environment. Recently, more evidence suggests a link between popular chemical ingredients, especially oxybenzone and octinoxate, and coral bleaching, which damages and distresses coral reefs. For comparison, the most common active ingredients in natural sunscreens (titanium dioxide and zinc oxide) are less likely to damage coral reefs. We say “less likely” because, when reduced to nano-particles, even these natural ingredients can be ingested by marine life and coral, the impact of which isn’t fully known. Despite the preceding disclaimer, natural sunscreens are likely more “reef-friendly” than chemical sunscreens.

But Are Natural Sunscreens Effective?

The big question, of course, is does natural sunscreen actually work? Yes, but with one caveat. After thorough testing of several natural sunscreens, Consumer Reports found that some performed below their advertised SPF labels. This doesn’t mean they didn’t work, but they did not consistently meet their advertised SPF rating. To accommodate any discrepancy between advertised and actual SPF performance, we suggest choosing an SPF 50 sunblock, which would still offer well beyond SPF 30 protection (even if not exactly SPF 50). While that’s a potentially alarming caveat, there is one big performance advantage to natural sunscreens: they are instantly effective. Once applied, natural sunscreens are immediately providing mineral UV protection. Chemical sunscreens, meanwhile, need about 20-30 minutes to absorb into your skin before they are effective.

Should You Use Natural Sunscreen?

We are not qualified to give medical advice, and therefore can’t answer this for you. If you still have questions, you should speak with your doctor or a dermatologist, or consider alternatives to sunscreen. They can answer the questions we can’t, and hopefully you are now more prepared to ask them!

No matter which type of sunscreen you choose, take a tip from this video on how to properly apply it:

Keep in mind, sunscreen is only one part of an effective defense against the sun. For the best protection, pair sunscreen with UPF 50+ sun protective apparel, such as a sun shirt and hat. To shop Rayward Apparel’s collection of UV-protective clothing, click here.

Sources: ConsumerReports.org; Healthline.com; National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI)

Sadrieh N, Wokovich AM, Gopee NV, et al. Lack of significant dermal penetration of titanium dioxide from sunscreen formulations containing nano- and submicron-size TiO2 particles. Toxicol Sci. 2010;115(1):156‐166. doi:10.1093/toxsci/kfq041

5 Things You Didn’t Know About Sun Protection

Sunny Pier for UPF Hats and Shirts

Proper sun protection is essential for making sure you enjoy your time outside. Otherwise, you risk ruining your day with skin damage and sunburn. With our UV-protective apparel and UPF hat styles, we try to keep sun safety simple. That being said, it’s still useful to know how sun damage happens to better understand sun protection. With that goal in mind, here are five things you may not know about sun protection:

1) Skin Damage Occurs Before Any Signs of Sunburn

If left unprotected, your skin can be damaged by as little as 10 minutes of unprotected sun exposure. Don’t be fooled into thinking that you are ok as long as you don’t see the signs of a sunburn. Even tan and darker skins that don’t redden are still damaged on a cellular level. Likewise, don’t rest easy at the sight of a “mild” sunburn. Even a light burn is bad and indicates damage to your skin, which ultimately increases your risk of permanent skin damage or even skin cancer. Play it safe and wear a UPF hat and sun shirt even for short periods of sun exposure.

2) The UV Index Shows the Strength of UV Rays Each Day

The first thing you should do on any day you plan on being in the sun is check the day’s UV Index. This is basically a measure of the strength of the sun’s UV rays on a given day, based on solar noon (between 10 AM – 4 PM). The UV Index ranges from 0-12. The higher the UV Index, the higher your risk of skin damage, and the faster you could burn. A UV Index of 3-7, for instance, indicates a “Medium to High” risk. An Index of 8-12 represents a “Very High to Extreme” risk. The higher the UV Index, the more critical your UPF hat and shirt become.

CLICK HERE to learn more about the UV Index, or watch this short video:

3) Many Surfaces Reflect UV Radiation

Did you know that ultraviolet radiation doesn’t just come directly from the sun? In fact, damaging UV rays also reflect off nearby surfaces. By now, most people know that water, snow and ice reflect UV rays, but did you know that sand, cement and even grass reflect enough UV rays to cause skin damage? This makes your UPF hat, UV apparel and broad spectrum sunscreen an important combination. Together they’ll help shield you from both direct and indirect (reflected) UV radiation.

4) Sun Protection is Essential for Every Skin Type & Color

It’s true that people with fairer skin are at a higher risk of sunburn and skin damage, but that doesn’t mean everyone else is off the hook. While some people are more susceptible to sunburn, anyone can get skin damage, sunburn or skin cancer. Whether your skin is black, white, or any shade in between, you need to protect it from UV damage. Start by wearing a UPF 50+ clothing and a UPF hat, followed by sunscreen on any remaining areas of exposed skin.

Woman Needs a UPF Hat on the Beach

5) UPF 50+ Apparel Is the Surest Form of Sun Protection

Sunscreen is essential for sun safety, but UPF apparel is a better bet for sun protection. As great as they are, sunscreens still have several drawbacks. They need to be applied thoroughly, and this needs to be done 30 minutes prior to sun exposure. Sunscreen also needs to be reapplied every 2 hours. Plus, and most confusing of all, sunscreen ingredient labels are hard to understand and it’s not clear what is safe for you or coral reefs. The surest sun protection comes from the simplest sun protection: UPF 50+ hats and shirts. UPF-rated apparel is always broad spectrum and doesn’t have any of sunscreen’s drawbacks mentioned above.

Now that you know even more about sun protection, we hope you’re feeling ready for “More Adventure & Less Exposure.” The next time you’re going to be in the sun, we recommend a UPF hat, sun shirt, sunglasses and sunscreen. To shop Rayward Apparel’s UV-protection clothing, visit our online store today.

Sources: World Health Organization; Skin Cancer Foundation

Best Sun Protection Shirts For Hiking

Hikers on Summit on Sunny Day

The best sun shirts for hiking combine breathability, lightweight and UPF 50+ UV protection, all of which you’ll get with Rayward Apparel’s lightweight sun protection shirts. Keep reading to find out why these traits are important for your go-to hiking shirt. Furthermore, discover why Rayward Apparel’s UPF shirts stand above the competition and are the best bet for your next hike.

UPF Hiking Shirts for Varied Weather Condition

Whether you’re hiking in the wetlands of the Southeastern United States, or up in the Canadian Rockies, you need a hiking shirt that can handle different conditions and temperature ranges. Fortunately, Rayward Apparel’s Sun Bound collection is up to the task. Made of viscose from bamboo, our UPF 50+ hiking shirts are breathable, lightweight and quick-drying. Continue below and discover more about how we designed the best lightweight sun protection shirts for hiking.

Couple Hiking Along Sunny Ridge

Breathable Comfort for Your Next Hike

Bamboo fibers help you regulate your temperature by helping your body vent properly. In hot weather, this means collecting cool air to keep you from overheating. Meanwhile, in colder weather, the bamboo fibers help trap warm air. In either hot or cold temperatures, the thermal regulating properties of bamboo help you stay comfortable. As a result, when you’re out hiking, you’ll feel great wearing our lightweight sun protection shirts from dawn till dusk.

Lightweight Hiking Sun Protection Shirts 

Another great thing about our sun shirts made from bamboo viscose is that they’re lightweight. As a result, they won’t weigh you down, whether on your back or in your pack. We know that the weight of every worn and packed item quickly adds up. Given this, our fabric blend balances protection with weight to make sure you are protected, but not burdened. Plus, our shirts are tailored with an athletic fit to avoid bulk. We also forgo unnecessary buttons, straps and fasteners for a clean, thoughtful design that gives you everything you need, and nothing you don’t! 

Hiking Wet Forest Trail

Quick-drying, Moisture-wicking Sun Shirts for Hiking

Any dependable hiking sun shirt needs to wick moisture and dry quickly. Why? Because eventually, at some point, you’re going to get wet! Whether that moisture is from a waterfall’s mist, a sudden rainstorm, or simply your sweat–the consequence is the same: you’re wet, and soon to be uncomfortable. Therefore, Rayward Apparel’s lightweight sun protection shirts use a fast-drying blend of lycra, natural cotton and viscose from bamboo. This carefully chosen blend excels at pulling moisture away from your body, which allows it to then quickly evaporate away. Rather than blocking sweat or making you sweat more than you should, our UPF hiking shirts allow your body to sweat naturally. Then, our moisture-wicking fabric assists your body’s natural process by quickly pulling the sweat away from your skin. Plus, the same process that works for sweat works for other moisture, including that rainstorm you couldn’t out-hike!

UPF 50+ Protection You Can Trust on Any Hike

Perhaps you already have a lightweight, moisture-wicking hiking shirt, but is it UPF rated? All of Rayward Apparel’s sun shirts, including our lightweight Sun Bound collection, are UPF 50+ rated. This means they block over 98% of UV rays, the equivalent of SPF 50+ sunscreen! Plus, our sun clothing’s UPF rating lasts wash after wash, and even when wet.

In conclusion, the best hiking shirt is one you can trust. Not just for its lightweight breathability and well-fit design, but also for how it protects your hide. For your next hike, perhaps to one on the top 5 hikes in the vide below, trust nothing less than the lightweight, UPF 50+ rated sun shirts from Rayward Apparel. 

Click Here to shop our men’s and women’s Sun Bound collections now!

What Are The Worst Sunscreens?

Family Wearing Bad Sunscreen at the Beach

As previously mentioned in our blog highlighting the disadvantages of sunscreen, not all sunscreens are created equal. In fact, some are so bad we aren’t comfortable recommending them as complements to our sun block clothing. However, because sunscreen products and ingredient compositions constantly change, listing qualities of the worst sunscreens is more helpful than a list of specific sunscreens to be avoided. Effectively, these are the types of sunscreens that are the worst, featuring more of the attributes and ingredients that make bad sunscreens bad.

Sun Block with Unnecessarily High SPF Ratings

Many sunscreens attempt an appearance of additional effectiveness by means of the highest SPF rating possible. While this alone does not make sunscreen unsafe or bad, it is misleading. This is because an SPF 50 and SPF 100 lotion both need to be reapplied every 1-2 hours, yet higher SPF ratings sometimes fool people into thinking they can stay in the sun longer. Meanwhile, during that 1-2 hour time period, you are only receiving marginally better protection, as SPF 50 already blocks 98% of UVB rays. As a result, we agree with the American Academy of Dermatology’s recommendation of at least SPF 30, but anything from SPF 30 through SPF 50 is ideal.

Sunscreens that Damage Coral Reefs

Another common feature in the worst sunscreens is a long list of coral-bleaching ingredients. Only additional research can reveal the full extent of damage sunscreens cause to coral reefs. However, as of now, both oxybenzone and octinoxate are linked to coral bleaching. Unfortunately, at least one of these ingredients is found in many sunscreen products. Of course, if you definitely aren’t going into the water, then this is less concerning. 

Coral Reef with Sea Turtle damaged by Sun Block

Expensive Sunscreens

Our next gripe with the worst sunscreens has to do with their price. Sunscreen is not cheap, and a quality sunscreen usually costs anywhere from $2-4 per ounce. Prices can escalate quickly into the $5+ dollars per ounce, especially for face lotions. Given that you should be applying at least 1 ounce per application, you’ll run through bottles quickly. With Rayward Apparel’s sun block clothing, on the other hand, your protection isn’t on a timer and won’t run out. In fact, if you consistently wear UPF apparel, you’ll quickly start saving money by needing to buy less sunscreen.

Non-water Resistant Sunscreens

Another set of sunscreens that you may consider avoiding are those that aren’t water resistant. The FDA allows sunscreens to claim either 40-minute or 80-minute water resistance. All things equal, we prefer the 80-minute water resistance. You should know that currently, not sunscreen is “waterproof.” Seriously reconsider any sunscreen making such claims. If you want waterproof protection, wear UPF clothing that maintains its UV protective qualities even when wet, such as Rayward Apparel’s bamboo-based Sun Bound collection.

Palm Tree Blocking Sun

Non-Broad Spectrum Sunscreens

While some of the previous sunscreen issues could be a matter of personal preference, this one is not up for debate. Therefore, we’ll keep it short: you NEED broad-spectrum sunscreen. Broad-spectrum sun block protects against both UVA and UVB rays, and anything else isn’t keeping you safe. Unless clearly labeled as “broad spectrum,” do not use it. Fortunately most popular sunscreens are now broad spectrum, and all UPF sun block clothing offers broad-spectrum protection.

For more information on decoding sunscreen labels, check out this handy guide from the American Academy of Dermatology:

If the above painted a dire picture of sunscreen, then take comfort in the fact that there are also many great sunscreens. Choosing the right one just requires considering how you intend to use your sunscreen, as well as carefully examining the product label. Also, some of our criteria for the best sunscreens are more about personal preference than they are about sun safety. So as long as your sunscreen’s qualities don’t prevent you from using the product properly and protectively, it’s ok! Perhaps you get more comfort using an SPF 75 instead of SPF 50, for instance. Or if you know you won’t be in the water, it’s probably ok if your favorite sunscreen isn’t reef-friendly or as water-resistant. 

Ultimately, you should be using sun block clothing to protect as much of your body as possible, and only relying on sunscreen (or a safe alternative) for the areas not covered by UPF apparel. To shop Rayward Apparel’s sun block clothing, also known as UPF apparel, click here!

Sun Hats: Expectation vs Reality

Man with bucket hat and camera

Are you missing out on the benefits of sun hats because of an outdated set of expectations and misconceptions? For instance, we often hear that sun hats cost too much or are uncomfortable, bulky and not as good as sunscreen. Well, if you haven’t worn a sun hat before (or in a while), then it’s time to reconsider sun hats because a lot has changed. In addition to fabric and design improvements making sun hats safer and more comfortable, you now also have many more design options to match your personal style. All of this creates a disconnect between the expectation and reality of consumers and their sun hats, so let’s dig a little deeper to uncover what you should really expect from sun hats for men and women.

Cost of Sun Hats

  • Expectation: Sun hats cost too much.
  • Reality: In the long run, sun hats will save you money.

Sun hats will require a greater upfront investment (although many quality sun hats for men and women are available for less than $40, including one from Rayward Apparel), but they’ll save you money in the long run. How? We’re so glad you asked! Wearing a men’s or women’s sun hat will mean you need less sunscreen for your head, and it could also save you on costly medical visits to treat sun spots, skin damage and, worst of call, cancer.

Comfort and Sun Hats

  • Expectation: Sun hats are hot and uncomfortable.
  • Reality: New fabrics allow for lightweight, breathable sun hats.

The expectation of hot, heavy sun hats may have been true back in the olden days, but modern apparel fabrics have changed the game. It’s now possible to create lightweight hats that are still protective, yet breathable and moisture-wicking. Of course, not every sun hat is equally comfortable, which is why we prefer our sun hats for women and men over the typically heavier straw-style sun hats.

Convenience of Sun Hats

  • Expectation: Sun hats are too big and bulky.
  • Reality: Modern sun hats come in lightweight, packable and machine-washable styles.

If weight and size are a factor in choosing your sun hat, then consider that modern sun hats come in a variety of styles, including lightweight, easily packable fabrics with foldable brims. With Rayward Apparel’s bucket sun hats for men and women, you can even throw your hat in the washing machine for easy-care cleaning!

Sun Hat Styles for Women & Men

  • Expectation: All sun hats look like straw-style beach hats.
  • Reality: There are countless styles of sun hats.

In choosing a sun hat, you’ll discover countless styles of sun hats for women and men. Whether you prefer a bucket hat (our personal favorite), baseball-style headwear, wide-brimmed beach hats, Panama hats or something more formal, the good news is that you have plenty of options!

Sun Hat for Women's UV Protection

Effectiveness of Sun Hats

  • Expectation: Sun hats aren’t as effective as sunscreen.
  • Reality: Sunscreen is safer if worn WITH a sun hat.

As long as your sun hat features a UPF 50+ rating, which means over 98% of UV rays are blocked, then you can trust the protection of your hat. The real question, however, is how much of your head, face and neck is your hat protecting? A baseball hat, even one with a UPF rating, offers little to no protection for your ears and neck. A wide-brimmed hat, on the other hand, is much more likely to provide effective protection for your ears and face. Just remember to also wear sunscreen to block those pesky indirect UV rays that bounce upwards from reflective surfaces like water and sand.

This Harvard Health article does a nice job outlining proper sun protection, and goes so far as to say that you should “always wear appropriate protective clothing such as wide-brimmed hats, long-sleeved clothing, and pants when possible.” It’s easy to compare sunscreen and sun hats as an either or, but the reality is you should be wearing broad spectrum sunscreen AND sun hats for men and women.

Has your reluctance about wearing a sun hat ever led to a sunburn? If so, relax. If you’re currently sunburned, check the advice below for the best treatment of a sunburn. Next, consider if your sunburn could have been prevented by wearing one of our sun hats for women or men. Either way, learn what you need to do differently to avoid repeating this mistake:

Great news! There are plenty of sun hats to choose from, including brand new UPF 50+ bucket sun hats for men and women from Rayward Apparel (coming soon!).

Best Sun Protection Shirts For Hot Weather

Arches National Park in Hot Weather

The best sun shirts for hot weather balance lightweight breathability with trustworthy UV protection, both of which you’ll get with the men’s long sleeve sun protection shirts from Rayward Apparel. But what exactly makes this the BEST sun protection shirt for hot weather? Continue reading as we outline the many benefits of our UPF 50+ Sun Bound collection, not the least of which is an ultraviolet protection factor rating that blocks over 98% of harmful UV rays.

Sun Shirts to Stay Cool in Hot Weather

For many, the natural response to combat hot weather and rising temperatures is to wear fewer layers, exposing more skin. While this feels good momentarily, exposing more skin increases your risk of sunburn and harmful UV damage. To combat this while staying cool and safe under the sun, we recommend UPF50+ lightweight long sleeve sun protection shirts. While it may seem counterintuitive to wear a long sleeve shirt in hot weather, when the fabric blend is as lightweight and breathable as our combination of cotton, viscose from bamboo and lycra, then the finished product is surprisingly cool. Of course, if needed, our Sun Bound UPF 50+ short sleeve t-shirt is always an option. Just remember that any short sleeve sun shirts should always be paired with a broad spectrum sunscreen. Just remember, unlike UPF apparel, sunscreens must be reapplied every 2 hours, and more frequently if you’re sweating or swimming.

Bamboo Plant for UPF Apparel

Tough Weather Demands a Tougher Sun Shirt

If it’s hot enough, you’re going to sweat—even in the most breathable of shirts. The benefit of quick-drying, moisture-wicking apparel like our men’s and women’s long sleeve sun protection shirts is that you won’t stay wet. As the sun shirt absorbs moisture, it will pull it away from your skin. This helps wetness quickly evaporated, keeping you both cool and dry. Plus, even wet, our sun shirts with viscose from bamboo still protect from the sun’s UV rays (unlike typical clothing). A sun shirt as tough as our women’s and men’s long sleeve sun protection shirts can handle the hottest of weather, even when hiking!

Sun Protection Shirts with a UPF 50+ Rating

The most critical factor in selecting the best sun protection shirt for hot weather is its Ultraviolet Protection Factor, or UPF rating. In the hottest of weather, you could be most susceptible to sun damage. Therefore, depend on sun protection clothing with the highest possible sun protection rating, UPF 50+. Our women’s and men’s long sleeve sun protection shirts block over 98% of the sun’s UV rays, the equivalent of a broad spectrum SPF 50+ sunscreen. However, compared to SPF lotions, UPF apparel doesn’t have to be reapplied every 2 hours!

When the temperatures rise the highest, resist the urge to grab a sleeveless tank top or muscle shirt. Instead, make the right decision for your skin. Choose the comfortable, dependable and affordable protection of Rayward Apparel’s UPF 50+ men’s and women’s long sleeve sun protection shirts. And for added protection, check out the hooded variation of our Sun Bound shirt collection!

Does UPF Clothing Really Work?

UPF Clothing Effectiveness People Walking

Most people believe that as long as they are physically covered by a fabric, they are protected. All clothing has some UPF value. However, what most people don’t know is that the average t-shirt generally has a UPF value of 1-5. Does UPF clothing really provide that much more protection than everything else? The short answer – yes.

10x The Protection Compared To The Average T-Shirt

UPF clothing is designed specifically with sun protection in mind. If you compare a UPF 50 long sleeve shirt to a standard cotton long sleeve shirt you’d be surprised how differently they function. They might fit the same and cover the same amount of skin, but the UPF 50 shirt only allows about 2% penetration of damaging UV rays. An average cotton shirt at UPF 5 allows 10 times the UV penetration of the UPF 50 shirt.

Consistent, Reliable UV Protection

Unlike sunscreen, a sun protective shirt will keep you protected for as long as you are wearing it, no reapplication needed! If you purchase quality sun protective apparel, it will also last for years—saving you a lot of money in the long run. The cost savings are even higher if you are wearing a UPF 50 long sleeve shirt instead of a short sleeve shirt, keeping you from having to apply sunscreen on your arms every time you go outside. One quality UPF shirt can save you from buying dozens of bottles of expensive sunscreen.

Washing Machines, UPF Clothing Longevity

With all Rayward Apparel products, we avoid chemical additives and the UPF value of our shirt will last the life of the shirt. This is not always the case with other UPF products in the marketplace, so do your research. There are two general ways to achieve a UPF value in clothing: through chemical additives (not recommended) or through effective shirt design (recommended). 

One of the major reasons chemical additives can be concerning is because when you put the shirt through the wash it’s possible some of that chemical washes out and the UPF value drops. As the chemical is washed out of the shirt, it becomes less and less protective. Overtime this makes it difficult to know the exact protection value you are receiving.  

If the UPF value is derived from effective design rather than a chemical additive, it will never wash out. This is often achieved through a combination of factors such as the fabric weave, blend, composition, weight, etc… These are things that remain constant through the life of the shirt. Read more on the UV protective qualities of different fabrics.

Even With The Best UPF Clothing, Sunscreen Is Still Needed

Even with a high quality UPF 50 long sleeve shirt parts of your body are still exposed. The back of your hands, neck, and face will still need protection. A long sleeve shirt will help provide maximal coverage and reduce the amount of sunscreen needed. However, you still need to pair your sun protective shirt with a high quality sunscreen. This is critical to make sure all areas of your body have proper protection. 

When purchasing a sunscreen, make sure you are getting the right one. ALWAYS make sure the sunscreen is broad-spectrum to protect you from UVA and UVB rays. Also check on statistics like it’s water resistance rating and whether it’s a spray or lotion. If you are going to an area that requires reef-safe products ensure that it meets those requirements as well. If you need more help choosing a sunscreen and want to learn more about the chemical makeup of the different options, the video below is a great summary:

What Is Bad About Sunscreen?

Woman Swimming with Sunscreen instead of SPF Shirt

You don’t have to spend much time with the Rayward Apparel Team to realize that we’re big fans of sunscreen. Broad-spectrum sunscreen is a critical part of sun safety, and we use it to complement the protection offered by our SPF shirts for men/women. However, sunscreen isn’t perfect, and there are many reasons we prefer SPF apparel, whenever possible. Continue below for more on what is bad about sunscreen, from application issues to ingredient concerns. At the same time, we’ll examine if those same issues exist with SPF shirts for men/women.

Marketing Gimmicks and SPF

Not every sunscreen is guilty of this, but far too many rely on gimmicks and misleading labels. Our main point of criticism is in SPF ratings. In sunscreen, most dermatologists recommend an SPF of 30-50. However, since you still need to reapply after 1-2 hours, there isn’t much benefit to going above SPF 50. A higher SPF isn’t necessarily bad for you, but misleading labeling often portrays them as being safer. An SPF 100 sunscreen, for instance, still needs to be reapplied as frequently as SPF 30 or SPF 50 lotion. It will probably cost you more, however. Speaking of cost…

Sunscreen is Expensive

Good sunscreen is expensive, often around $2-3 per ounce. And prices only go up as you include more criteria, such as non-greasy application, water resistance and reef-safe ingredients. Consider that it takes about 1-2 ounces of sunscreen to properly cover your exposed areas of your skin. Now remember that you need to reapply every 1-2 hours, based on activity. Given that, even a half-day at the beach could require an entire 8 oz bottle of sunscreen per person! Of course, the more of your body that is protected by UV protective clothing, the less sunscreen you need.

Sunscreen is Too Greasy

It may be a necessary evil, but it’s a common complaint that sunscreen leaves your skin feeling oily or greasy. Plus, with some sunscreens the same thing that makes them greasy also causes them to stain your clothes. Fortunately, there are now more sunscreens that both feel dry and don’t stain, but this is still a common problem with sunscreen. UV protective apparel, on the other hand, will of course not make your skin feel greasy. Plus, if it’s made with quality fabric blends, like the natural cottons and viscose from bamboo used in our Sun Bound collection, then the finished product is extremely soft, comfortable and lightweight!

Challenges Applying Sunscreen

Another big problem with sunscreen is in how it’s applied. With lotions, you may need the help of someone else to properly cover your hard-to-reach areas. Meanwhile, with spray lotions, you have to be careful not to overspray, contact your eyes or breathe in the fumes. Plus, for all varieties of sunscreen, you should apply 15 to 30 minutes prior to going out into the sun. This requires either waiting or a bit of planning ahead. Also, you’ll need to reapply your sunscreen at least every 2 hours, and possibly more often if you’re sweating or spending time in the water. With SPF shirts, on the other hand, your protection is instant and never lapses!.

Applying Sunscreen by Hand

Concerning Sunscreen Ingredients

Our final gripe with sunscreen regards ingredients. It seems like new research comes out weekly raising concerns about the safety of certain sunscreen chemicals, or their environmental impact. Some sunscreen chemicals are absorbed into your skin, and there’s much to learn about related health consequences, especially with children. As of now, the FDA isn’t saying sunscreen is unsafe, but they are requesting more research on the potential dangers of absorbing sunscreen chemicals through your skin. If this concerns you, choose a topical mineral sunscreen that sits on the surface of your skin. Additionally, mineral sunscreens (aka physical or natural sunscreens) don’t use ingredients linked to coral bleaching, such as oxybenzone and octinoxate. If you think this is complicated and leaves too much to chance, then rely on UV protective clothing as much as possible. With UPF clothing, you don’t have to worry about chemicals being absorbed through your skin or damaging marine life.

Sunscreen vs SPF Shirts

Based on the above, you hopefully understand why we prefer SPF shirts for men/women instead of sunscreen, if possible. At the same time, we’re realistic and recognize that you can’t cover your entire body in UV protective clothing. Therefore, you should still make sunscreen (or a safe alternative to sunscreen) a regular part of your sun safety routine, along with sunglasses and head protection, but do so knowing how to avoid the worst sunscreens.

To learn more about Rayward Apparel’s SPF shirts for men/women, also referred to as UPF apparel, click here!

Why You Need a Sun Hat AND Sunscreen

Sun Hat and Sunscreen for UV Protection at the Beach

Worn properly, and together, the combination of broad spectrum sunscreen and sun hats with UV protection creates an excellent barrier against UV damage. The key, of course, is wearing them together. If sun hats and sunscreen are great individually, they’re practically unbeatable when teamed up. They both have their strengths, and also their limitations, so let’s dig into why you need to wear BOTH for the best sun protection.

For Constant Protection Against Direct UV Rays…

It’s hard to beat a sun hat with UV protection. When made with lightweight, breathable, moisture-wicking fabrics, such as those from Rayward Apparel, sun hats comfortably and instantly shield against harmful UV rays. Here are but a few of the reasons our sun hats with UV protection are a must-have for sun safety:

  • UPF-rated sun hats are always broad spectrum.
  • Nothing’s easier than putting on a sun hat (and you never have to “reapply”)
  • UPF sun hats are instantly UV-protective; no need to wait 30 minutes.
  • Sun hats are odorless and don’t feel greasy or sticky.
  • Your hair is better protected with a sun hat.
  • The shade of a sun hat helps keep your head and body cool.

Given a sun hat’s advantages over sunscreen, especially in quickly protecting your scalp, it’s hard to imagine looking anywhere else as the first step in daily sun protection. This is especially true during the midday hours between 10 AM and 4 PM when the sun’s UV rays are most intense. Therefore, whenever you head outside, wear your sun hat! But remember…

Don’t Forget About Indirect UV Rays

Broad Spectrum Sunscreen for Your Face

Did you know that the sun’s harmful UV rays don’t only come from above? In fact, UV rays can reflect off many surfaces. Worse yet, these reflected UV rays, known as indirect UV radiation, are still strong enough to damage your skin. Therefore, even if you wear an extremely wide-brimmed hat, it’s nearly impossible to block the UV rays reflecting upwards at your face from reflective surfaces like water, sand, snow and ice. 

So, what do you do? Don’t worry, we’re not about to tell you to constantly cover your entire face with UPF fabrics, which isn’t always comfortable or convenient. The simple alternative is to wear your sun hat with UV protection, which takes care of the direct UV rays from above, while also applying broad spectrum sunscreen to your face, neck and all other areas that could be exposed to indirect sun damage. Easy enough, right?

There are a few key things to consider when using sunscreen in addition to your sun hats with UV protection:

  • Always wear a broad spectrum sunscreen to block both UVA and UVB rays.
  • As with any sunscreen, remember to reapply every two hours, and more frequently if submerged in water or sweating.
  • If available, choose a water-resistant sunscreen (but still reapply every two hours).
  • Apply your sunscreen about 30 minutes before you’ll be out in the sun.

And there you have it:

Applying broad spectrum sunscreen = good.

Wearing sun hats with UV protection = better!

Wearing UPF sun hats AND sunscreen = BEST!!!

To shop Rayward Apparel’s collection of UPF apparel and sun hats with UV protection, visit our online store today!

For additional sun protection tips, check out this helpful skin cancer awareness guide from the CDC. Plus, for an illustration of how to apply sunscreen to your face, along with how it looks through UV cameras, check out this interesting video:

What Fabrics Block UV Rays?

What fabrics block UV? Rayward Apparel

Your clothing is more than just a fashion statement, it helps keep you protected from damaging UV radiation – one of the leading causes of skin cancer. Certain types of materials, like bamboo shirts, often come with a higher UPF rating (less UV rays can pass through), but it depends on a lot more factors than just fabric composition. Every product is different, some provide superior protection while others provide little to none. If you are shopping for sun protective clothing and do not see a UPF value listed, keeping the below factors in mind will help make sure you are selecting a product that will help keep you protected.

Material

Fabric Spools
  • Fibers: The fibers themselves have different UV protection qualities. Synthetic fibers such as nylon and polyester generally have a higher UPF value than other popular fibers such as bleached cotton. Bamboo fibers (when purchasing bamboo shirts it’s generally labeled as viscose from bamboo) also tend to have a higher UPF value than cotton. However, the process of turning bamboo into bamboo viscose can sometimes alter the properties of the fabric, so make sure to check for a UPF rating whenever possible and not make any assumptions.
  • Construction: Ultimately the goal is to reduce the amount of light that can pass through. With a tight weave, you have less space between the threads and thus less potential for UV radiation to pass through. Also, a shirt’s thickness can also help protect your skin as it often has more fibers per square inch and much tighter weave. A good simple test is to hold a shirt up to the light – if a lot of light is passing through it likely has a lower UPF rating than a shirt where no light passes through.

Fit

Generally speaking, loose-fitting apparel is preferable to tight clothing. Tight clothing has a tendency to stretch which separates the fibers – allowing more light to pass through. Loose unstretched fibers are going to provide more consistent protection, and are also less likely to become permanently stretched over time, therefore maintaining their UPF protection rating for longer. This also helps determine whether a shirt will maintain its UPF rating after being washed.

Style

The more coverage the better. It goes without saying that a short sleeve shirt cannot keep your entire arm protected, so try and find products that maximize the surface area coverage. Long sleeve bamboo shirts are great, and hooded long sleeve shirts offer even more protection for your ears and neck.

Color

Fabric Colors Bamboo Shirts

Darker is better, but there is no formula for determining which specific color is best for sun protection. If you have to choose between a black and white shirt and are looking for maximum UPF value, more often than not the black shirt will provide more protection. This is in part due to the color absorption properties, but also due to the process of coloring a fabric with different dyes which further reduce the amount of UV radiation that can pass through. But keep in mind – just because a shirt is white does not mean it is not keeping you protected. A shirts protective qualities is a combination of all of the above factors and it’s very possible that your white bamboo shirts are keeping you just as protected, if not more protected than your black cotton shirts. 

UPF Rating

The safest way to make sure you are protected is to buy products with a posted UPF rating. This means that the shirt has been tested and proven to have UV protective qualities. For maximum protection, look for apparel that has a UPF 50+ rating.

BEFORE YOU GO...

Subscribe to our newsletter for our latest specials, news and product updates:

By subscribing, you accept our Privacy Policy and agree to receive marketing emails from Rayward Apparel.