Everyone knows sunscreen is a critical part of safely enjoying a day outdoors. But fewer are completely clear on whether truly protecting our skin requires wearing it indoors, too. So, should you wear sunscreen inside? We're here to answer this question and take a closer look at the reasons why.

Do you need sunscreen indoors?

The short answer is no; most people don't need to worry about sunscreen when indoors, except in rare or specific situations.

To understand why, consider the reason why we wear sunscreen to begin with, which is to protect our skin from the harmful effects of solar radiation. The sun's rays can be divided into UVA and UVB categories, the former of which is most associated with aging effects, while the latter is blamed for sunburns and raising the risk of skin cancer. Fortunately, almost all glass fully blocks UVB rays, eliminating the most serious potential sun damage. Some styles also block some or all UVA radiation too, including tinted windows, laminated windows, or ones treated with special films or glazes.

However, even though it's not an absolute requirement, there are still potential benefits to wearing sunscreen indoors. It can help protect against any residual UVA rays that make it through, slowing aging and further reducing cancer risk. Plus, unless you plan to spend 100% of the day indoors, you'll already have some protection applied the second you step outside.

When should you wear sunscreen indoors?

While most people and situations don't require indoor sunscreen, there are certain instances where applying some might be beneficial.

Large or plentiful windows or skylights

The more sun a space is exposed to, the more UVA radiation will penetrate through the windows. Those spending time in rooms with lots of windows and skylights, or particularly large ones, may end up exposed to nearly as much light as they would be outside. Conversely, dimmer interior spaces provide more natural protection.

Lots of time near windows

Consider where you'll physically be within a room. Are you working at a desk in direct afternoon sunlight? Do you spend lots of time binge-watching on a couch near several big windows? Even if an overall space is only moderately bright, those occupying the sunniest spots for extended periods should consider the possibility of some sunscreen.

High altitudes

At higher altitudes, there's less of the earth's atmosphere protecting us from the UV radiation of the sun. Because of this, typical windows will face higher than usual UV loads and naturally let more through. This can be particularly noticeable in places like the mountains of the western United States. People spending time in these areas should remember this elevated risk when considering indoor sunscreen.

Medical conditions

While less common, a variety of medical conditions can also lead to the need for sunscreen indoors, including a history of skin cancer or certain skin disorders. In other cases, individuals may be taking drugs or undergoing medical treatments that make them more susceptible to UV radiation and sunburns. Anyone concerned about a medical need for indoor sunscreen should consult their doctor.

Alternatives to indoor sunscreen

It's no secret that people don't love the idea of taking the time to put on sunscreen every morning or dealing with the feel of it on their skin. Luckily, sunscreen isn't the only option. Free Fly offers stylish, comfortable sun protection clothing with a UPF rating (the clothing equivalent of SPF) of 30 or more. That means just 2% of UV radiation penetrates the materials, just a tiny fraction of what gets through a typical cotton shirt with a UPF of around 5. 

At the same time, Free Fly's UPF clothing is crafted from ultrasoft fabric made from bamboo, providing a far superior feeling on your skin than sticky, oily, smelly sunscreens. And when properly cared for, UPF items from Free Fly can provide protection for many wearings, making them a great value compared to expensive sunscreen, too.

Man and woman in Free Fly UPF Apparel

Taking care of your skin indoors and out

Caring for your skin is vital for both your health and appearance as you age. However, for most, there's no need to wear sunscreen indoors. Still, those who want extra protection from any residual UVA radiation that reaches their space can certainly enjoy some sunscreen with no real downsides. Meanwhile, those looking for the best protection, style, comfort, and value should check out Free Fly's selection of sun protection clothing for women and sun protection clothing for men.