What Are The Best Sunscreen Alternatives?

Beach Umbrella for UV Protection

Sunscreen plays a vital role in sun protection. There are many occasions and activities that demand the type of protection that only sunscreen can provide. For instance, you may have a required uniform or dress code that leaves your skin vulnerable and exposed. Or perhaps you need or prefer the portability of a tube of sunscreen. But is sunscreen always your best option? To be clear, we aren’t advising against the use of sunscreen. However, sunscreen is not without its disadvantages, and in many circumstances there are better alternatives. Continue below as we highlight the best (and worst) sunscreen alternatives, featuring everything from shade to UV clothing.

First, a Few of the Worst Sunscreen Alternatives

A few minutes surfing the internet and you’ll come across dozens of so-called sunscreen alternatives. The problem however, is that most of these don’t meet the minimum protection recommended by dermatologists. Therefore, to alternate your sunscreen for any of the following would be ill-advised, and potentially dangerous. Despite what less-informed sources might tell you, the following are NOT safe alternatives to sunscreen:

  • Non-UPF Clothing: Many shirts offer UV protection equivalent to SPF 10 or less, which is to say they do not offer sufficient protection. Worse yet, their protective qualities typically drop when wet. Therefore, don’t consider standard clothing as an alternative to sunscreen unless you see a UPF rating proving otherwise.
  • Natural Oils (Sesame, Coconut, Olive, Almond, etc): There are several natural oils that do provide minimal UV protection, but the keyword here is “minimal” (think in the range of SPF 4-10). You may feel reassured knowing you smell better with some of these oils, but you should not count on them for safe sun protection.
  • Shea Butter: With an estimated SPF between 3 and 10, shea butter offers such minimal protection that we would never fool ourselves into thinking we were significantly safer for having applied it. You may receive other benefits from applying shea butter, but this should not be used in place of sunscreen.
  • Aloe Vera: While aloe vera is a tried-and-true natural remedy to soothe a sunburn, it will not help you prevent one. Unless mixed with other agents, aloe vera alone offers insignificant UV protection. As with all of the previously reviewed sunscreen alternatives, aloe vera should only be used as a last resort, and only while on your way to get proper sun protection.

What Are Safe Sunscreen Alternatives to Prevent UV Damage?

Shaded Hammock in Caribbean

Shade

This seems obvious, but you’d be surprised how much skin damage you’d avoid by spending more time in the shade. Whether it’s from a tree, umbrella, canopy or awning, use your shade! Scan your environment for opportunities to give your skin a break from the sun (but do NOT use clouds!).

Sun-blocking or UV Cosmetics

This one comes with a mighty disclaimer. That being that your cosmetic either states its UV protection, or it comes recommended by dermatologists specifically for sun protection. That being said, there are cosmetics that provide a protective barrier for your skin. Please consult the product label and your doctor before relying on cosmetics as your sole form of UV protection.

UV Clothing

The absolute best sunscreen alternative is performance UV clothing. The combination of a UPF sun hoodie and UV protective hat, for instance, protects your face, neck, torso and arms. UV clothing protects you immediately and doesn’t require reapplying every 1-2 hours. Additionally, UV apparel doesn’t leave your skin feeling greasy, it’s reef-friendly, and it’s less expensive in the long run. For more about how UV clothing works, check out this short video from the Mayo Clinic:

Rayward Apparel’s Sun Bound collection, for instance, is lightweight, breathable, stylish and—most importantly—effective at preventing UV damage. Through a blend of viscose from bamboo and natural cotton, we’ve achieved the highest possible fabric UV protection rating, UPF 50+. This means that not only does our UV clothing avoid the application issues of sunscreen, but it also blocks more than 98% of UV rays. 

In conclusion, when you look back at the best safe alternatives to sunscreen, you are left with few options. Unless you wear UV-blocking cosmetics, stay in the shade and/or avoid the sun altogether, then we think the choice is clear: trust UPF 50+ UV clothing if you want a safe alternative to sunscreen.To learn more about Rayward Apparel’s UV clothing, and to shop our Sun Bound collection of UPF 50+ apparel, visit our shop today!

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

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:

How To Protect Your Skin From The Sun

Camping Hammock on Sunny Lake

We all learn in grade school that our largest organ is our skin. We’re covered in it from head to toe, and we need to protect all of it from UV damage. Exposure to the sun’s UV rays harms your skin, so follow our tips to protect your skin from the sun. Skin protection starts with a plan and continues with the combination of broad-spectrum sunscreen and UPF 50+ shirts and apparel.

Protect Your Skin with Proper Planning

Better planning = better protection. It’s not flashy or exciting, but it works. Planning for your skin’s sun safety starts with an awareness of the most dangerous time of day for sun exposure: 10 AM – 4 PM. During these hours, you’ll need to be extra diligent with your skin protection. Fortunately, however, you don’t need to avoid the sun. Use the available shade, keep hydrated, set reminders and take note of how long you are in the sun. And always remember to reapply sunscreen every 1-2 hours.

Protect Your Skin with Broad-spectrum Sunscreen

The next critical piece in protecting your skin from harmful UV rays is using broad-spectrum sunscreen. Don’t use any sunscreen that isn’t labeled as “broad-spectrum” as only broad-spectrum sunscreens protect against both UVA and UVB rays. Each of these types of UV rays is harmful, and your skin needs to be protected from both. UVA rays are linked to many types of skin cancer, and UVB rays are most likely to cause sunburn. We recommend a water resistant lotion with at least SPF 30. Approximately 30 minutes before going out in the sun, apply a quality sunscreen generously to any exposed areas. Lastly, and this is key: remember to reapply every 1-2 hours, or sooner if you are sweating or spending time in the water.

Apply Broad-spectrum Sunscreen

Protect Your Skin with UPF 50+ Shirts

Your skin’s next defense against sun damage is UPF apparel. This is clothing made with special fabric blends, like viscose from bamboo, that absorbs UV radiation and shields your skin. We recommend clothing rated UPF 50+ as this offers the best protection, blocking over 98% of UV rays. For added skin protection, trust lightweight UPF 50+ shirts with long sleeves, or even our hooded variation.

Furthermore, another great thing about protecting your skin with UPF 50+ sun shirts is that you’ll save time and money. You’ll save time because UPF apparel doesn’t have to be reapplied, so you don’t need to worry about your shirt’s UPF protection wearing off throughout the day. Also, you’ll save money by not needing to spend so much on sunscreen (which isn’t cheap) since UPF 50+ shirts are more effective than broad-spectrum sunscreen.

Despite your best efforts, if you do accidentally get sunburn, here’s a helpful video about how to properly treat your skin:

With the right plan, and a healthy combination of broad-spectrum sunscreen and UPF 50+ shirts, you can safely head out into the sun knowing your skin is protected. For additional advice specific to protecting your face, check out our companion post. Avoid the negative consequences of damaging UV exposure, like sun spots, sunburn and skin cancer, and start protecting your skin now with Rayward Apparel’s UPF 50+ sun clothing.

How Can I Protect My Face From The Sun?

Woman's Face in the Sun, Freckles

When it comes to UV exposure and sun damage, your face is one of the most vulnerable spots of your body. Not only is it hard (and sometimes impossible) to cover, but it can also be difficult to check your face once you leave the house. Therefore, it’s important to leave your house with all of the essentials for safely protecting your face from the sun: a hooded sun shirt, broad-spectrum sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat. Continue below to see why each is critical for protecting your face from UV damage:

Protect Your Face with a UPF 50+ Hooded Sun Shirt

Believe it or not, the first step in protecting your face from the sun starts with your shirt. Consider your typical crewneck shirt. Your neck, and certainly your face, are entirely exposed to the sun. Even a collared shirt offers little to no protection for your face. For a shirt that actually offers UV protection for your face, wear a lightweight hooded sun shirt. With the hood up and over your head, your face is actually protected from the sun at multiple angles, which is especially important between 10am – 4pm. Plus, since UV rays reflect off many surfaces, such as water, ice and sand, you’re also more protected from below.

UPF Hooded Sun Shirt in Blue

Protect Your Face with Broad-spectrum Sunscreen

The next step in protecting your face from the sun is applying broad-spectrum sunscreen. It is important that your sunscreen be broad spectrum so that it blocks both UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays penetrate deeper into the skin and are linked to skin cancer. UVB rays, on the other hand, are most directly linked to reddening and sunburn. The consequences of both UVA and UVB damage for your face can be dire, so protect your face with broad-spectrum sun lotion. Most dermatologists recommend SPF 30 lotion. This should usually be applied 30 minutes before sun exposure, and reapplied every 1-2 hours

Protect Your Face from UV Damage with Sunglasses

After you’ve generously applied your face sunscreen, grab a pair of UV-protective sunglasses. The sun’s UV rays can severely damage eyelids, as well as your eyes themselves. Prolonged UV exposure to your eyes can damage the cornea or lens and lead to cataracts or other eye damage. Fortunately, it is easy to find and identify UV sunglasses, and a quality pair can be purchased for less than $50 USD.

UV Sunglasses for Face Protection

Protect Your Face with SPF Lip Balm

One often overlooked part of your face that needs protection is your lips. Your lips are very susceptible to chapping, burning and even skin cancer. Therefore, leave nothing to chance and regularly apply an SPF lip balm (aka ChapStick) to protect your pucker!

Protect Your Face with a Wide-brimmed or Bucket Hat

Hooded sun shirt? Check. Face sunscreen? Check. Sunglasses? Check. But there’s one final piece to top it all off, literally: a UPF hat, preferably a bucket hat or one with a wide brim. Your hat’s brim (or bill, depending on your style) acts as a shield from the sun, protecting not only your head, but also your face. Make a UPF hat the fourth component of protecting your face from UV damage, and you’ll stay cool and protected for a full day in the sun.

Lastly, just in case you need more evidence about the need for protecting your face from the sun, check out this video about the hidden dangers of UV exposure and your face:

By planning ahead and using all four protective pieces above, you can ensure protection for your face. Otherwise, you risk sun damage, burns, wrinkling, early aging and, worst of all, skin cancer. Don’t leave anything to chance with your skin. Instead, build the foundation for your face’s UV protection with Rayward Apparel’s UPF 50+ hooded sun shirt.

Top 5 Questions (and Answers) on Sun Protection

Motorboat with Sun Reflecting on the Water

It’s important, we spend a lot of time in it, and yet there’s still a lot of confusion about how to protect ourselves from it. We’re talking about the sun, of course! Our goal below is to highlight the top five questions regarding sun protection, and in doing so, hopefully clarify a few important sun safety tips. One thing that is clear? Rayward Apparel’s Sun Bound shirts and sun hoodie are your go-to sun protection apparel! Find out why while learning more about sun protection below:

1) What Causes Sunburn and Skin Damage?

Sunburn is caused by ultraviolet (UV) rays penetrating your skin. UV damage comes from two forms of UV rays: UVA and UVB. UVA rays penetrate deeper into the skin and are what cause wrinkling, early aging and, most critically, skin cancer. UVB rays damage the surface of the skin and are what cause sunburn and reddening. Too much exposure to either UVA or UVB rays will damage your skin and increase your risk of skin cancer.

2) What Affects My Risk of Sun Damage?

Your risk of sun damage, whether permanent or temporary, depends on a few factors, including the amount of time for which you are exposed. The time, environment and weather also play a role in determining how much exposure is too much. The sun’s rays are most powerful between 10 AM – 4 PM, for example. Also, you’ll burn easier at higher altitudes or closer to the equator. Furthermore, consider your surroundings and any surfaces that could reflect UV rays, such as water, ice, sand and concrete, especially onto your face.

Woman at Beach with Sun Protection

3) What Is the Best UPF Rating?

Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) measures the amount of UV radiation that goes through a fabric and reaches the skin. The higher the UPF rating, the better, and the best is UPF 50+. To translate a UPF rating into practical application, a UPF-rated fabric lets a percent of UV rays through equal to one divided by the UPF rating (1 / UPF). For example, a UPF 50+ shirt lets through less than 1/50th, or less than 2%, of UV rays. Additionally, the UPF rating system, unlike the SPF system for sunscreens, measures protection against both UVB and UVA rays.

4) How Do Sun Shirts Block UV Rays?

UPF sun shirts and sun hoodies block UV rays by shielding your skin. This protection can be accomplished a few different ways. Dyeing with darker colors, for instance, will absorb more UV rays, therefore allowing less to reach your skin. Certain fibers, like the blend of viscose from bamboo and cotton used in our sun hoodie, have natural properties and a dense weave that absorbs UV. NOTE: Some companies achieve their UPF ratings through chemical and oil treatments which can be bad for the environment and less durable.

5) What’s the Most Effective Sun Protection?

The most effective sun protection is the one that you wear when you need it. To us, that means the reliable, comfortable and always broad-spectrum UV protection provided by UPF apparel, like our sun hoodie. There are many reasons we like UPF clothing more than just sunscreen for effective sun protection. For starters, with properly worn UPF apparel, you can’t accidentally miss a spot, you don’t have to reapply and it’s easier to remember to put a shirt on! Plus, you’ll save money in the long run and your protection is always broad spectrum.

Men's Sun Bound Hoodie in Blue

If you have additional questions about sun protection, leave us a comment below! To shop our UPF 50+ Sun Bound collection of sun shirts, including a t-shirt, long sleeve shirt and sun hoodie, CLICK HERE.

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

Sun Protection Still Matters, Even During Self-quarantine

Sunset from Inside with UPF Apparel

As we practice social distancing and self-quarantining in order to “flatten the curve”—hopefully easing the burden of COVID-19 on our health system—there’s a temptation to allow other aspects of our health and well-being to take a backseat. Of course, some of this is necessary, as we must work together to curb the spread of the COVID-19. Concurrently, we can’t forget about sun safety and shouldn’t neglect other parts of our health, including our skin.

Continue reading for Rayward Apparel’s self-quarantine sun protection and skin care tips:

Your Windows Probably Don’t Block UV Rays

Whether you’re working from home, soaking in the sun from your home office window, or wistfully looking out from your porch while dreaming of a return to normalcy and the adventures you’re going to take, odds are you are still being exposed to the sun’s UV rays. Most household windows don’t filter UV rays. This means you still need protection on the area’s most exposed, which are likely your face, neck, back and arms. Of course, we recommend UPF 50+ apparel for its combination of comfort and performance. Additionally, complement this with SPF lotions to protect the areas not covered by our sun protective clothing. Even indoors, UV protection matters!

Dry Air = Dry Skin

Spending additional time indoors likely means that you’re spending more time surrounded by air conditioning. Whether cooling or heating, this usually equates to drier air, and therefore drier skin. Gentle exfoliation will help, and consider using an in-home humidifier. Or, if weather permits, open some windows to prevent drying-out and damaging your skin. Give your skin a break from cosmetics that aren’t health-related and let your skin breathe. Your colleagues on your video call will understand!

More Distance, Less Help with Sun Safety

It’s critical that we all practice social distancing, but the downside of keeping our distance from friends and family could unintentionally result in less accountability. How many times has a family member reminded you to apply sunscreen? Or when you forgot sun protection, they offered some? And who is going to get those hard to reach spots of your back? Even if you’re fortunate enough to still find ways to participate in outdoor activities like kayaking or running, doing so alone (or at a greater distance from others) may mean less help in maintaining proper sun safety. The best defense is the broad-spectrum protection offered by UPF 50+ apparel, complemented by sunscreen applied 30 minutes prior to exposure, and re-applied every two hours. Plus, if you need help remembering, use your mobile phone, Alexa or other smart devices to set reminders!

Kayaking with UPF Apparel

The Best Sun Safety is Constant Sun Protection

The worst sun damage often occurs when we aren’t prepared. Remember the day the fish wouldn’t stop biting? How about the pick-up game of volleyball followed by beachside drinks? Or, perhaps more relevant these days, the home gardening project that took twice as long as you expected? Even with our best intentions, without proper planning, we’re prone to surprise UV damage caused by our desire to be in the sun. The solution? Start each day with a routine that includes preventative sun protection, such as putting on (or packing) your UPF apparel, applying broad-spectrum sunscreen lotion, and setting reminders to keep it up throughout the day.

When normal routines are broken, as almost everyone’s are right now, it’s easy to replace healthy routines—like going outside, exercising and eating well—with less beneficial habits. Of course, with the stresses of the times, we’re not expecting skin care to be your #1 priority. Still, with a bit of attention and planning, you can maintain healthy sun safety habits, indoors or outside, and have one less thing to worry about.

From our team to yours, stay safe. We’re all in this together, and we’re just as eager as you to get back outside. For now, develop your sun safety routine, call your friends and family, and plan future adventures!

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