There's no denying the benefits of traditional sunscreens when it comes to protecting your skin from dangerous UV radiation. But whether you just don't have any available or are looking for alternatives that don't involve chemicals, there are plenty of ways to protect your skin without sunscreen. Let's take a closer look at some of the best and most common options.

Stay Out of the Strongest Sun

It may seem obvious, but the easiest way to protect your skin without sunscreen is to stay out of the sun when the UV rays are the strongest. Typically, these are the hours around midday, with mornings and evenings offering lower exposure. Weather apps and other resources can provide a more detailed hour-by-hour estimate for UV exposure based on your location and weather. By adjusting your outdoor time around lower sun periods, you can minimize your need for sunscreen and other protections.

Natural Skin-Protecting Substances

If you’re exploring how to protect your skin from the sun naturally, you may be surprised to learn about the many common sunscreen alternatives that can also block some UV radiation. Examples include cocoa and shea butter, both of which offer SPFs in the 4-6 range while also providing skincare benefits. Coconut oil offers a similar level of protection, though it's critical to note that all of these choices only block some UVB rays, the kind that cause skin damage that can lead to cancer. Aging-related UVA rays can still penetrate. Some people also opt for other natural alternatives like raspberry and carrot seed oils, which have less firm data supporting their benefits. There’s also aloe vera, which, in addition to treating sunburned skin afterward, can provide some protection during time outdoors.

Diet Changes

While it shouldn't be relied upon on its own, consuming a diet rich in certain antioxidants can promote healthy skin that's more resistant to sun damage. Vitamins C (common in citrus, tropical fruit, and bell peppers) and E (plentiful in almonds, sunflower seeds, and some greens) are excellent examples, as are the substances known as carotenoids, which are found in carrots, mangoes, cantaloupe, sweet potatoes, and more. Those looking for dietary sun protection can also step up their consumption of niacin, folate, and omega-3 fatty acids, all of which are found in a diverse selection of common foods.

Sun Protective Clothing and Accessories

Man and woman in Free Fly sun protective Apparel

Physically shielding your skin from the sun is one of the best ways to enjoy the outdoors without needing traditional sunscreen. Hats are an easy option with many different choices to fit nearly any outfit or occasion, from casual beach days to upscale events. Larger brims offer the most protection, especially when they cover both your face and neck. Those who want even more coverage can opt for the old-school tactic of bringing a sun umbrella, which can also help shield you from the heat of the day.

In addition, your clothing plays a pivotal role in shielding you from the sun's rays. This can be accomplished through techniques like a tighter weave in the fabric or special fabric treatments that block UV. Free Fly offers an extensive selection of sun protection clothing for men and sun protection clothing for women. With UPF protection up to 50, wearers enjoy as much as ten times more protection than ordinary cotton clothing. That allows you to be confident just a tiny fraction of UV rays are reaching your skin, ensuring you can enjoy the sun without worry. Plus, with proper care, they can last for years.

So Many Sun-Protection Options—Even Without Sunscreen

While common chemical sunscreens and sunblock remain a proven, effective way to protect your skin from UV damage, the many diverse alternatives show it's certainly not the only option. Whether you change your plans and diet, slather on a naturally protective substance, or opt for the buttery soft protection of Free Fly's UPF clothing, there's guaranteed to be a solution that works for you and your plans.