What Can I Wear Instead Of Sunscreen?

Rayward Apparel

Bamboo clothing and other sun protective apparel are becoming popular alternatives to sunscreen, but what else is there? UV exposure is harmful to your skin so it's important you stay protected, but sunscreen is not your only option. There are a lot of reasons you might want to avoid sunscreen. Maybe it’s an allergic reaction, general discomfort, or you just want to avoid covering your body in chemicals. Regardless of your reason, there are a lot of ways to stay protected throughout your day without applying chemicals to your skin.

Sun Protective Bamboo Clothing

The number one option would be to simply wear clothing designed for sun protection. Keeping your skin physically covered with bamboo clothing will act as a natural barrier. However, not all clothing actually protects you from UV rays. To know if it’s designed that way, simply look for its UPF rating. The below chart gives a quick breakdown of how ASTM defined the various UPF ratings:

UPF Rating Protection Category % UV Radiation Blocked
UPF 15 - 24 Good 93.3 - 95.9
UPF 25 - 39 Very Good 96.0 - 97.4
UPF 40 - 50+ Excellent 97.5 - 98+

Our Sun Bound line of bamboo clothing is all UPF 50, and our lightweight Crescent City collection is rated UPF 45. Both are designed with breathability and comfort in mind. To get maximum protection, you should cover as much of your skin as possible. This means when given the choice between a short sleeve shirt and long sleeve shirt, go with the long sleeve. This same logic applies to your lower body as well. In addition to keeping your torso and arms covered with UPF clothing, make sure to do the same for your legs. 

Bucket Hats and Sun Hats

Your face can be a difficult part of the body to stay protected without sunscreen, but there are options. Our top recommendation would be a UPF sun hat. A sun hat (sometimes referred to as a bucket hat) is a little different than a baseball hat. It not only keeps your head and (some) of your face covered, but has a wide brim that extends over the ears and also provides neck protection. Sun protective bamboo clothing can certainly keep your body covered, but the face, scalp, ears, and neck are four of the most common places people develop skin cancer

Neck Gaiters and UPF Face Masks

If it's specifically your face and/or neck that need UV protection, consider a UPF neck gaiter. Lightweight, portable and breathable, neck gaiters are a great sun safety accessory to complement your UPF apparel. They can be worn up over your face, just underneath your chin, or a handful of other ways. As far as when to wear sun protection neck gaiters, as with the UV protective clothing mentioned above, it's whenever you'll be outside for as little as 10-15 minutes.

Sunglasses With UV Protection

Unless you are soaking your eyes in sunscreen (not recommended!) sunglasses aren’t necessarily an alternative, but still worth mentioning. It’s just as important to keep your eyes protected as it is your skin. Your eyes are just as susceptible to UV damage as your skin. By wearing the proper sunglasses you can easily eliminate this risk. Check your sunglasses to make sure they are designed for UV protection. Many different brands are now producing sunglasses that provide 100% UV protection.

Seek Shade

Sun hat and bamboo clothing with umbrella

The safest option is always to seek shade whenever you can. This might be a nearby building, tree, or you might want to bring a large umbrella. Even if you are fully protected with UPF rated bamboo clothing, pants, a sun protective bucket hat, and UV filtering sunglasses, staying in the shade as often as possible will always minimize your exposure.