How to Protect Skin in the Sun Without Sunscreen

Woman at the Beach
A woman wearing a sun hat. (Image: Mike Watson Images/moodboard/Getty Images)

Sunscreen shields your body from cancer-causing UV rays, so it's important to slather it on whenever you go outside. That's especially true at the beach and pool -- water and sand reflect sunlight, so you're more likely to get burned without protection. If you left the sunscreen at home, there's no need to miss out on any outdoor activities. You can prevent getting a sunburn by staying in the shade and wearing protective clothing.

Step 1

Wear long-sleeved clothes when you go outdoors. Pants and a long-sleeved shirt shield your body from the sun's rays; darker colors protect skin better than light ones. If you're at the beach or pool and can't wear long-sleeved clothes, cover your torso with a long T-shirt.

Step 2

Wash clothes with a UV-repellent laundry detergent. These detergents coat clothing with microscopic crystals. The crystals prevent UV rays from penetrating the fabric and getting to your skin.

Step 3

Put on a wide-brimmed hat before heading out in the sun. Your face burns easily, so it's important to shade it with a hat, especially if you're not applying sunscreen. Don't use straw hats; they have small holes that let sunlight through.

Step 4

Protect your eyes with sunglasses that filter UVA and UVB rays. Opt for wrap-around sunglasses for the best protection.

Step 5

Sit in the shade as often as you can when you're outdoors. Look for shade under an awning or tree. At the pool or beach, sit under a large umbrella.

Step 6

Avoid going outside between the hours of 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The sun's rays are strongest during this time period.

Things You'll Need

  • Long-sleeved clothing

  • UV-repellent laundry detergent

  • Wide-brimmed hat

  • Sunglasses

  • Umbrella

Tip

To make your own natural sun repellent, combine 1/2 cup almond oil, 1/4 cup beeswax and 1/4 cup coconut oil in a glass bowl. Mix in 2 tablespoons Shea butter, 2 tablespoons non-nano zinc oxide powder and 1 teaspoon of vitamin E oil. Melt the ingredients in the microwave, or place the bowl over a pot of hot water on the stove. Stir the ingredients together, then let the mixture cool in the refrigerator for one hour. Apply as you would your regular sunscreen. Reapply every two hours.

Warning

You can get a sunburn even when it's cloudy or cold outside. It's also possible to get burned when you're under the water. UV rays can even penetrate glass.

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