10 Best Sunscreens of 2020

Reviewing Sunscreens in 2020

Even with the best sun protective apparel, you should always use one of these top-rated broad spectrum sunscreens to protect the parts of your body not covered by UPF apparel. From your ears to your toes, every part of your skin—no matter the color—is vulnerable to sunburn and damage if overexposed to UV radiation. Make sunburn a thing of the past by using the best sunscreens of 2020!

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Top 10 Sunscreens for 2020

10) La Roche-Posay Anthelios Sunscreen, SPF 60

The SPF 60 might be overkill, but we like that La Roche-Posay Anthelios Sunscreen achieves its protection factor with reef-safe ingredients. Its water resistant and fragrance-free formula provides safe broad spectrum protection for most skin types, whether for everyday use or extended activities. Additionally, La Roche-Posay’s Anthelios sunscreens feature antioxidants and Vitamin E to defend against free radicals and repair damaged skin.

9) Thinksport Sunscreen, SPF 50

The first physical (non-chemical) sunscreen in our top 10, Thinksport’s SPF 50 sunscreen is reef-friendly and water-resistant for 80 minutes. We especially like that Thinksport prioritized your skin’s health without resorting to questionable ingredients. It’s usually available at a reasonable price, but you may run out quicker than usual because it’s a little greasy and thick. Still, this is a great sunscreen if you’ll be in natural waters where the potential to impact marine life is a factor.

8) Banana Boat Sun Comfort, SPF 50

Reef-safe ingredients, 80-minute water resistance and SPF 50 protection are highlights of this quality sunscreen from Banana Boat. Additionally, the “Sun Comfort” sunscreen lotion offers a pleasant moisturizing, non-greasy application. This benefit is especially important when reapplying at the beach, as it’s meant to allow sand to brush off easily. And remember, reapply at least every two hours!

7) Coppertone Sport, SPF 50

The first spray lotion to crack our top 10, Coppertone Sport’s SPF 50 chemical sunscreen offers broad spectrum protection and water resistance, but still at a great value. Aside from the mediocre spray mechanic and it not technically qualifying as reef-safe, this is a great alternate sunscreen if you need a spray option, especially when exercising outside.

6) BullFrog Water Sport Armor Tech, SPF 50

Although it isn’t reef-safe, BullFrog’s Water Sport Armor Tech sunscreen is a great chemical sunscreen lotion featuring 80-minute water resistance. Since it contains oxybenzone, it’s great for the pool, but not as suitable for natural bodies of water. Still, for pools or land-based activities, Bull Frog’s non-greasy, long lasting formula is a great option.

5) Banana Boat Ultra Sport Performance, SPF 50

Our top-rated spray sunscreen, Banana Boat’s Sport Performance offers broad spectrum SPF 50 protection with the convenience of a spray application. It’s hard to beat the cost (often available for under $1 per ounce), and this is a great sunscreen backed by the reputable Banana Boat brand. Plus, this was recently updated to remove oxybenzone, therefore making this reef-friendly! Still, as convenient as Banana Boat’s Sport Performance is to apply, we prefer lotions over spray applications because it’s easier to tell how much you applied with a lotion.

4) Blue Lizard Active Mineral-based, SPF 30

A unique mineral-based combination lotion featuring zinc oxide and octocrylene, Blue Lizard’s Active SPF 30 sunscreen qualifies as reef-safe. We really like this sunscreen because it has both the physical and chemical elements of a sunscreen, providing the best of both worlds while minimizing its impact on our actual world. A quick peek at Amazon.com and you’ll see that most users also agree that it’s hard to beat the competitive price and effective performance. Therefore, it’s one of our new favorites!

3) Banana Boat Dry Balance, SPF 50

Broad-spectrum and reef-safe, Banana Boat’s Dry Balance SPF 50 sunscreen lotion offers maximum protection, but also leaves a soft, matte finish as opposed to the sometimes sticky or greasy films left by inferior sunscreens. Equally suited for daily use or a long day at the beach, we believe the unique “Dry Balance” only further justifies what’s already a very reasonable price per ounce.

2) Hawaiian Tropic Island Sport, SPF 50

Although this chemical sunscreen from Hawaiian Tropic isn’t reef-friendly (it contains oxybenzone), it is easy to apply, doesn’t leave you ghostly and doesn’t smell like chemicals. It’s also usually one of the most affordable sunscreens, which helps encourage frequent use with generous applications. Of course, this is important because its thinner “ultra light” consistency might incline you to reapply more frequently. Overall, it does the job and often at less than $1 per ounce, but we recommend Hawaiian Tropic’s Island Sport lotion for when you know you’re staying on land.

1) Thinkbaby Safe Sunscreen, SPF 50

Despite the name, this isn’t just for babies! In fact, this broad spectrum mineral sunscreen is good for all ages because it uses zinc oxide for reef-friendly UV protection, making Thinkbaby Safe Sunscreen one of the only sunscreens we reviewed to achieve an SPF 50 rating without resorting to reef-harming ingredients. Since it’s free of any questionable ingredients, Thinkbaby’s zinc oxide sun lotion is safe for all ages (6+ months), water resistant for 80 minutes and it was the first sunscreen to pass Whole Foods’ Premium Care requirements.

Sunscreen + UPF Apparel

Broad spectrum sunscreen plays a critical role in sun safety. However, for the safest, surest and most cost-effective UV protection, a good sunscreen is best paired with UPF 50+ apparel. Shop Rayward Apparel’s UPF sun protection clothing today, including our new Sun Bound collection of sun shirts!

Bonus: Need a reminder about why you should be wearing sunscreen and protecting your skin? Check out this TED Ed video lesson by Kevin P. Boyd:

About Rayward’s Sunscreen Reviews

Many sunscreens are available in multiple sizes and/or SPF ratings. Several factors, including performance, ingredients and cost, can vary based on the SPF rating. Therefore, each review applies most accurately to these exact products, and is based on ingredients available at time of publication.

Sunscreen is never waterproof. In fact, FDA regulations only allow a “water-resistant” rating of either 40 or 80 minutes. Regardless of the rating, you should always reapply sunscreen after sweating, towel drying or water submersion of any duration.

Reef-safe (or “reef-friendly”) labels are determined by each sunscreen’s ingredients and their recognized impact on coral reefs and marine life. At the time of publication, both oxybenzone and octinoxate are generally recognized as damaging to coral reefs. Therefore, we believe that including oxybenzone or octinoxate disqualifies a sunscreen from earning a “reef-safe” label. Some places even prohibit the use of sunscreens containing these and/or other ingredients. Please check with local regulations to ensure your sunscreen is approved.

Before purchasing ANY sunscreen, you should ALWAYS check the product label.

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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

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!

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. You will actually save money by investing in UPF apparel.

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!

What Is the Best Sunscreen?

Sunscreen Lotion with SPF

To safely protect your skin from the sun, you need the complementary defenses of SPF clothing and sunscreen. For body parts coverable with UV protective apparel, we recommend SPF clothing for men/women. For more on the advantages of SPF clothing for men/women, click here. However, UV clothing won’t cover all of your skin, and those areas need protection too! Without further ado, continue below to learn about the best sunscreens.

Broad-spectrum or Bust

Simply put, you should not use any sunscreen that isn’t offering broad-spectrum protection. Without a broad-spectrum protection, your sunscreen is only blocking half of the sun’s damaging UV rays. A broad spectrum designation indicates protection against both UVA and UVB rays. An important distinction because UVA rays are linked to skin cancer, and UVB rays cause sunburn. Too much of either has negative health consequences, so protect yourself from both. Interestingly, all UPF-rated clothing is broad-spectrum, so you have a little less to worry about with UPF apparel.

SPF 30 or Higher Sunscreen

Dermatologists recommend using a minimum of SPF 30, and who are we to disagree? The advantage of SPF 30 sunscreen versus lower SPFs is that you are blocking more of the sun’s UV rays. Keep in mind, however, that a higher SPF does not mean you can suddenly spend hours in the sun. No matter your SPF, you still need to reapply every 1-2 hours. Relating SPF to UV clothing, consider that what SPF is to sunscreen, UPF is to fabric. Although different methods determine the exact ratings, the principle is the same. We recommend pairing your sunscreen with UPF 50+ apparel so that your clothing blocks over 98% of UV rays, which can still be accomplished with lightweight SPF clothing for men/women.

Lotion or Spray Sunscreen?

The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends lotion sunscreen for a couple reasons. Firstly, it’s easier to make sure you apply the right amount when using a lotion. Secondly, you don’t have to worry about accidentally breathing in the overspray. Speaking of overspray, there is usually less waste with lotions as everything you squeeze out gets applied. Fans of sprays will point out the ease of application, especially if you’re covered in sand (or already sunburned… hey, mistakes happen!). We like the reassurance of a lotion, so that’s our go-to. Of course, we’ll admit that this one has a little more to do with personal preference, but now you know where we stand!

Sunscreen Lotion Squeeze Bottle

Water Resistance

Any sunscreen you plan to use around the water should have some degree of water resistance. The FDA regulates sunscreen claims of water resistance, allowing a water-resistant rating of either 40 or 80 minutes. All else equal, we recommend the 80-minute water resistance. This way you can spend more time swimming or surfing! Just remember, sunscreen is never waterproof, so always reapply after soaking or sweating.

Reef-safe Ingredients

Increasingly in the news are sunscreen ingredients and their impact on coral reefs and marine life. While much remains unknown about the full extent of any reported harmful effects of sunscreen, the best sunscreen is one that leaves nothing to chance. With that in mind, and based on data available at the time of our publication, we recommend “reef-friendly” sunscreens that avoid oxybenzone and octinoxate, both of which are generally recognized as damaging to coral reefs. In fact, you’ll likely notice an increasing number of beaches and destinations banning sunscreens containing these ingredients, so best to play it safe with effective natural sunscreens or mineral sunscreens.

Coral Reefs Impacted by Sunscreen Ingredients

Chemical vs Physical (Mineral) Sunscreens

The last decision you have to make about your sunscreen is choosing between a chemical or physical sunscreen (sometimes referred to as mineral or natural sunscreens). Chemical sunscreens contain ingredients that are absorbed into your skin, while physical sunscreen ingredients sit on the surface of your skin. With a physical sunscreen, you are effectively creating a barrier of minerals to prevent UV rays from reaching your skin. Due to more research being available about physical/mineral sunscreen ingredients, we prefer these to their chemical counterpart.

There are many sunscreens that meet all of our performance criteria, so your decision usually comes down to budget, application type and ingredients. Of course, some sunscreens are bad and others should be avoided, but once you find a sunscreen that’s easy to apply and meets our safety requirements, just remember to use it! For help choosing the best sunscreen, check out our summary of the 10 Best Sunscreens of 2020! Keep in mind, however, that your best sun protection comes with a combination of sunscreen and UPF apparel. To find the right sun clothes to complement your sunscreen, shop our lightweight SPF clothing for men/women today!

What Is The Best Sun Protection?

Sunset Reflecting Over Water

Effective sun protection is essential when enjoying the outdoors, but what is the most effective way to protect yourself from the sun? The best sun protection meets four important criteria: it’s affordable, consistent, effective and safe. Continue reading to learn about the best sun protection to protect against damaging UV rays: sun protection clothing.

Affordable Sun Protection

To be the best, sun protection must be affordable. Sunscreen and UV protection should not be cost-prohibitive, but gimmicky products and inefficient applications can make sun protection more expensive. At first glance, sunscreen might seem more affordable than UPF apparel. However, when you consider cost per application, the price of sun protection can really skyrocket. Fortunately, Rayward Apparel’s UPF clothing is an incredible value given sun protection clothing’s longevity. Plus, it’s available for multiple uses instead of a single application. Lastly, even when you need sunscreen, you’ll need less thanks to being covered by sun protective apparel.

Consistent UV Protection

Put simply, inconsistent sun protection is poor sun protection. If you forget to apply sunscreen, then you’ve just become extremely vulnerable to sun damage. The same goes for when you run out while at the beach. Or if a quick pick-up game of volleyball turns into post-game drinks at the fish shack, how long will your initial protection last? To ensure consistency with your sun protection, trust sun protection clothing’s always-protective measures. While wearing sun protective UPF apparel, you’re covered no matter what the day brings. Plus, you don’t need to remember to reapply throughout the day.

Surfboard in the Sand on Sunny Beach

Effective Sun Protection

The best sun protection is effective, broad-spectrum protection. Broad spectrum protection is necessary to block both UVA and UVB rays. Both UVA and UVB rays can negatively impact your health after even brief exposure. Therefore, avoid lotions that only protect against some UV rays. Instead, choose broad spectrum sunscreens. Likewise, ditch your standard cotton shirt for UV protective blends, like Rayward Apparel’s viscose from bamboo, to ensure non-stop broad spectrum UV protection. If you’re not sure about your clothing’s UV protection, check the label for its UPF rating. Be skeptical of anything without a UPF rating and look for UPF 50+ for the best sun protection.

Safe Sun Protection

To be the best, your sun protection needs to be safe—for both you and your environment. Many sunscreens contain harmful chemicals that damage coral reefs and marine life. Even worse, some sunscreen ingredients are absorbed into your skin with harmful or unknown health consequences. Therefore, Rayward Apparel recommends sun protection clothing as your best sun protection because our apparel doesn’t damage you or your environment. Plus, Rayward Apparel’s UV protective clothing is effective both wet and dry. This makes it a safe alternative to coral-bleaching sunscreens with confusing ingredient labels.

By choosing Rayward Apparel’s sun-safe UPF clothing, you’re guaranteed sun protection that meets all of the criteria outlined above. Plus, you’ll have the comfort and performance benefits of our ultra soft, lightweight sun apparel.

For the best sun protection, choose sun protective clothing. And for the best sun protection clothing, choose Rayward Apparel.

A Brief History of Sunscreen and Sun Protection

Sun Protection in Ancient Egypt

Sun protection has come a long way since ancient times, but the need to protect our skin is nothing new. Travel back in time with us on a quick journey through the interesting history of sunscreen and sun protection. We imagine you’ll return grateful to be on this end of the timeline with access to UPF 50+ clothing and broad-spectrum sunscreens.

Sun Protection in Ancient Times

In ancient Egypt, people used a combination of grains and spices to concoct sunscreens, relying primarily on rice bran, lupine and jasmine. Although people with limited, if any, understanding of the sun’s damaging rays applied these for cosmetic reasons, the Egyptians were actually on to something. In fact, it’s now known that rice bran contains a substance that actually offers limited UV protection!

Jumping ahead and into Greece, people became more aware of sun damage. However, the revealing practices of exercising naked outdoors and lathering oneself in olive-oil demonstrated room for improvement in the areas of sun safety.

We’ll travel into Europe and ahead to the medieval period. At this time, people preferred pale skin as an indicator of wealth, so sun protection took the form of clothing. Since this often meant several layers, we begin to see more effective—albeit less comfortable—sun protection taking shape.

Sun Protection in the 20th Century

Let’s skip way ahead to the early 1900s (hey, we said this would be brief!). This is when scientists begin linking sun exposure, cellular damage and cancer. These findings led to an increased demand for sunblock. The first of which was invented by an Australian chemist named Milton Blake, but with little proven effectiveness. Later, Austrian scientist and climber Franz Greiter developed a cream with some actual UV protection. It was only about SPF 2, but at least it was a start. During WW2, American pharmacist Benjamin Green created a sunblock for soldiers in the South Pacific, which would eventually become Coppertone.

Crowded Beach Needing Sun Protection

Interestingly, the advent of more effective sunscreens coincided with shifting cultural attitudes towards tanning. Where it was once considered best to have pale skin, the idea of tanning started to take hold. In the 1960s, as scientists shed light on causes of skin damage, people began shining lights by buying tanning beds. Worse yet, these were often used in conjunction with tanning lotions, only exasperating UV damage.

To combat the lack of understanding regarding UV exposure and skin health, Franz Greiter (mentioned above) invented the Sun Protection Factor, or SPF, rating system. As his SPF system became widely adopted, sun protection products and their labeling kept evolving. Continued research revealed different types of UV rays. We now know that both UVA and UVB rays cause damage—thus the need for broad-spectrum protection to prevent sun burn, early aging and, most importantly, skin cancer. In the 1980s, Coppertone introduced the first broad spectrum sunscreen. Also, this was around the time when the first water-resistant sunscreens debuted.

Sun Protection Today

More recently, sunscreens are scrutinized for impacting marine life and coral reefs, and rightfully so. As we learn more about the potential impact of certain sunscreen ingredients, especially oxybenzone (and to a lesser degree, octinoxate), it becomes increasingly important to check product labels to ensure that what you are using is not only safe for you, but also for your environment.

Coral Reef Impacted by Sunscreen

Fast forward to today, and despite some remaining myths and misconceptions still surrounding sun protection, we’ve come a long way in our understanding of the causes and effects of UV damage. Fortunately, we no longer have to rely solely on sunscreen for protection, but have the added protection offered through sun protective clothing. Similar to SPF sunscreen ratings, we now have Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) ratings for fabrics. Plus, modern textile production and testing has led to new fabric blends that feel, perform and protect better than ever. With this insight comes advancements in protective UPF 50+ clothing—which blocks over 98% of harmful UV rays—allowing you to continually explore new horizons, prepared and protected with clothing that performs.

Shop UPF 50+ Clothing at Rayward Apparel

Sources: he New York Times; JAMA Dermatology; ThoughtCo.com

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