How to Protect Your Skin From the Sun Without Using Traditional Sunscreens

Traditional sunscreen alternatives

During the summer, when the sun is out, it is very important to protect your skin from its strong beams that could be harmful.

However, for some women, traditional sunscreens may cause allergic reactions in sensitive skin, with symptoms like burning, itching, and swelling. This is why the FDA is looking into how safe the chemicals in sunscreen are. 

Some studies show that regular sunscreens might have chemicals in them that may cause skin irritation, allergic reactions, and even mess with hormones, which could make it harder for hormones to work properly.

Therefore, a lot of women are switching to sunscreen alternatives to protect their skin from the sun and avoid possible risks. These alternatives may also protect the skin from the sun without the risks that come with regular sunscreens. 

Let’s take a look at ways you can protect your skin from the sun without using regular sunscreens.

The Dangers of Excessive Sun Exposure

Traditional sunscreen alternatives - sun damaged skin - Dangers of Excessive Sun Exposure

Spending too much time in the sun without protection can seriously harm your skin. Getting sunburned is not just painful; it’s also a sign of skin damage. Severe sunburns can make your skin age faster and increase your chances of developing skin cancer. This includes melanoma, which is the most serious type and can be life-threatening if not caught early.

The rays from the sun can break down collagen and elastin, the proteins that keep your skin firm and elastic. This can cause wrinkles, fine lines, and make your skin look older before its time.

The sun can also damage your eyes. It can cause cataracts, macular degeneration, and photokeratitis, which is like a sunburn for your eyes and can be very painful.

Thus, you should always wear sunscreen if you want your skin to stay healthy and look young. Even if you do not feel like you need it, it is important to use sunscreen and other protective measures.

READ ALSO: Beyond Sunscreen: 5 Foods That Protect Your Skin from the Inside Out

Alternatives to Traditional Sunscreens

Even though sunscreen is widely recommended and works well to protect you from the sun, some women may prefer alternative methods due to personal preferences, allergies, or environmental concerns. 

Here are some alternatives to traditional sunscreen:

Protective clothing

Wearing tightly woven fabrics, such as lightweight long-sleeved shirts and pants, can offer excellent coverage and protect your skin from harmful UV rays.

Choose fabrics like denim, canvas, or synthetic fibers, as they are better at blocking UV rays than lightweight or loosely woven materials. Some clothes come with Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) ratings. The higher the UPF rating, the better the clothing is at protecting you from UV rays.

Always cover up! Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, or skirts to cover as much skin as possible. Lightweight and breathable fabrics can keep you cool while still providing good coverage. Darker colors like navy, black, or deep red and green usually offer better UV protection than lighter colors.

Accessorize with wide-brimmed hats, UV-blocking sunglasses, and lightweight scarves or wraps for extra coverage. Remember, clothing alone might not provide complete protection, especially if the fabric gets stretched or wet.

It’s important to use clothing along with other sun protection methods, like staying in the shade and planning your outdoor activities to avoid peak sun times. 

Hats and sunglasses

Wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses with UV protection can shield your face, neck, and eyes from direct sun exposure.

Go for hats with a wide brim (at least 3 inches) to provide ample shade for your face, neck, and ears. Choose hats made from tightly woven fabrics like canvas or denim for better UV protection. 

Some hats come with an Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) rating, indicating the level of UV radiation they can block. The higher the UPF rating, the more UV radiation the hat can block.

When selecting sunglasses, ensure they block 99–100% of UVA and UVB rays. Check the labels for this information. Choose wraparound or close-fitting styles to cover the area around your eyes and prevent UV rays from entering from the sides. 

Sunglasses with polarized lenses reduce glare and improve visibility, making them ideal for outdoor activities.

Seek natural shade

sunscreen alternatives

One of the simplest and most effective sunscreen alternatives to protect your skin from the sun is to seek shade and plan outdoor activities during the cooler parts of the day. 

When possible, stay under trees, canopies, or umbrellas to minimize direct sun exposure. Try to schedule outdoor activities for the early morning or late afternoon when the sun’s rays are less intense. Avoid being outdoors during peak sun hours, typically between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

For outdoor activities or events where natural shade is not available, buy portable shade structures like umbrellas or pop-up canopies. Keep an eye on the daily UV index forecast in your area and plan your activities accordingly. 

The UV index indicates the risk of overexposure to UV radiation. If you need to be outside during peak sun hours, take frequent breaks in shaded areas to reduce prolonged exposure.

Natural Remedies

Some plant-based ingredients and natural compounds can give your skin extra protection from the sun, but they shouldn’t be your only defense. 

For instance, aloe vera gel soothes your skin and might shield it from UV rays while calming inflammation from sun exposure.

Additionally, carrot seed oil provides the same level of sun protection as SPF sunscreen 40. It has a lot of anti-aging substances, such as beta-carotene, which is turned into vitamin A.

Virgin coconut oil has antioxidants and might give some sun protection when applied to your skin. But it’s not reliable on its own.

You can also protect your skin from UV damage with green tea extracts, which are full of polyphenols. Look for skincare products with green tea extracts for added protection.

Red raspberry seed oil also has antioxidants and natural sun protection, with an average SPF of 20. You can use it as a moisturizer or add it to natural sunscreen. With an SPF of 20, wheat germ oil also provides some sun protection.

Plants like turmeric, grape seed, and pomegranate have antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties that can help protect your skin from sun damage.

Remember, while these natural remedies can help, they’re not enough by themselves. Always use them with other sun protection methods like wearing protective clothes, staying in the shade, and avoiding the sun during its strongest hours.

Dietary Supplements

sunscreen alternatives

While a balanced diet can’t replace other sun protection measures, certain nutrients can help support your skin’s natural defenses against UV radiation. 

Antioxidants from foods like citrus fruits, berries, nuts, seeds, carrots, and tomatoes help reduce oxidative stress. 

Omega-3 fatty acids in fatty fish, walnuts, and flaxseeds offer anti-inflammatory benefits. Green tea, rich in polyphenols, can reduce the risk of skin cancer. 

Probiotics in yogurt, kefir, and fermented vegetables support the skin’s immune system. Staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water helps maintain skin elasticity and recovery.

Remember to combine a healthy diet with protective clothing, seeking shade, and using sunscreen.

Is it Okay to Not Wear Sunscreen? 

sunscreen alternatives

For women over 50, the question of whether to wear sunscreen is complex and depends on various factors like health, lifestyle, and skin type.

Sunscreen is very important for protecting the skin from UV rays, according to experts. Too much sun exposure can lead to sunburn, premature aging, and a higher risk of skin cancer. Pollution has weakened the ozone layer, making sunscreen even more important.

Some worry about chemicals in sunscreen, like oxybenzone and octinoxate, which might have long-term effects. But there are alternatives with safer ingredients, like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.

Factors like where you live and how much time you spend outside also matter. If you’re indoors a lot or live in a place with less sun, you may need less sunscreen. Protective clothing can also help block UV rays.

But even small amounts of sun exposure over time can damage your skin. If you prefer to avoid chemical sunscreens, protective clothing and seeking shade can help. It’s important to understand your own risks and talk to a healthcare provider for personalized advice.

In short, while there may be situations where skipping sunscreen is okay, for most women, using it regularly is an important way to keep their skin healthy.

Personally, I believe that you should apply sunscreen to any exposed skin whenever you are outside. Don’t forget to reapply sunscreen every two hours, or more often if you are swimming or sweating.

The American Academy of Dermatology advises using sunscreen with broad-spectrum protection (against UVA and UVB rays), SPF 30 or higher, and water resistance to prevent sunburn, premature aging, and skin cancer. While sunscreen is crucial, it’s not the only protection. 

READ ALSO: 10 Best Organic Sunscreens and Natural SPFs To Bask In Those Summer Rays

Using Cosmetics As Sunscreens

sunscreen alternatives

Makeup and cosmetic products, often thought to irritate the skin, can actually protect it from the sun’s harmful rays.

Opaque camouflage and post-surgical facial foundations have the potential to reduce sun damage and protect sensitive skin. These foundations are waterproof and made for long wear, making them a promising option alongside or instead of traditional sunscreen.

Opaque lipsticks also offer sun protection for lips, lasting longer and providing better coverage than clear lip balm products. They can help prevent lip sunburns and the progression of conditions like actinic cheilitis to skin cancer in women over 50.

Traditional liquid facial sunscreens can burn when they get into the eyes, especially during heavy sweating. A good alternative is a stick sunscreen for the eye area.

Closing Thoughts

Protecting your skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays is essential for maintaining overall skin health and reducing the risk of various skin-related issues, including premature aging and skin cancer. 

While traditional sunscreen remains a vital part of sun protection, exploring alternatives opens up new avenues for safeguarding our skin.

Keep in mind that protecting yourself from the sun needs a complete plan that fits your needs and way of life. You can enjoy being outside without putting yourself at risk by making sun safety and skin protection a priority.

If you want to protect your skin from the sun naturally or in other ways, you might want to make an appointment with a dermatologist or other skin care professional. They can tailor advice to your skin type and concerns to help you maintain healthy, youthful skin for years.

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Schellea Fowler

Schellea Fowler, the visionary founder of Fabulous50s, brings over three decades of small business leadership and expertise to her legacy. Not only has she excelled personally, but she has also become a mentor, generously sharing her wealth of experience with emerging entrepreneurs. After retiring at 50 in 2016, Schellea’s commitment to continuous growth led her to pursue additional qualifications. A qualified fitness instructor, she is presently continuing her master trainer program, specializing in exercise for older adults. Through Fabulous50s, Schellea remains devoted to her vision of empowering and inspiring women to embrace and celebrate their current stage of life. Schellea Fowler, the visionary founder of Fabulous50s, brings over three decades of small business leadership and expertise to her legacy. Not only has she excelled personally, but she has also become a mentor, generously sharing her wealth of experience with emerging entrepreneurs. After retiring at 50 in 2016, Schellea’s commitment to continuous growth led her to pursue additional qualifications. A qualified fitness instructor, she is presently continuing her master trainer program, specializing in exercise for older adults. Through Fabulous50s, Schellea remains devoted to her vision of empowering and inspiring women to embrace and celebrate their current stage of life. Her additional qualifications include: Neuro Athletics Coaching Certificate (NACC) from Neuro Athletics, Meditation Teacher Training from Yoga Coach, Fashion Styling from the Australian Style Institute, and Advanced Personal Colour Analysis from AOPI.
Above all, Schellea’s mission is simple yet profound: to support women in embracing the aging process with confidence and grace.

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