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What to Wear to a Protest

Updated: Aug 13, 2020

Article by Erin Huston

Black Lives Matter protest, marchers holding signs
Image credits: Regan Jones (@regannjo on Instagram)

This is meant to be a helpful, easy guide on what to wear when attending a protest. It is important to be prepared for any situation, and that means showing up in the right attire and with the right items on your person.


Wear nondescript, basic clothing in neutrals. This is key in helping to make you less individually identifiable.

Wear light layers, for easy adjustment to climate variants.

Wear long sleeves especially if you have any tattoos that make you more easily identifiable.

Remove all excessive jewelry, both for identification purposes and for safety.

Consider wearing or bringing heat-resistant gloves, both to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to protect against possible fire.


Wear long pants to protect your legs more from the impact of potential tear gas and bullets.

DO NOT wear leggings. Leggings will absorb the tear gas and continue to expose your skin over and over.

Wear comfortable sneakers that you can run in if need be.


Wear a face mask, both to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to protect air passageways from tear gas. Soaking a bandana in water, lemon juice, or vinegar beforehand can also help to aid in breathing in the case of chemical exposure.

Wear or bring goggles, which will protect your eyes from bullets and tear gas. Safety goggles are available for as cheap as $2.36 at Home Depot.

DO NOT wear contact lenses, if possible. Tear gas can become trapped between the eye and the lens, causing even more profound, possibly longterm damage to the eye.

DO NOT wear eye makeup. The oils in eye makeup can attract tear gas.

DO NOT wear oil-based sunscreens. Like makeup, it causes tear gas to stick to your skin, making it much more difficult to wash off. Consider instead using an oil-free mineral sunscreen to protect your skin.


Bring a bag that is easy to carry and hands-free, like a small backpack. You can put all these items in your bag.

Bring water and snacks. It is important to stay hydrated and nourished, especially on these hot summer days. Water is also a valuable solvent for tear gas. Pour it in your eyes to help alleviate irritation.

Bring bandaids and first aid supplies. These could come in handy for you or others around you.

Bring a compact umbrella. It can be a useful shield from pepper spray.

Bring earplugs to protect your ears from loud, potentially damaging sounds.

Have your ID and some cash and change on you. You never know when you might need these items.

Bring an inhaler, EpiPen, insulin, or any other vital medication you take just in case.

Disable location settings on your phone, and put in in airplane mode.

Also, do not carry anything you would not to want be arrested with.

When you are at a protest, be sure to follow the lead of the black organizers that are there if you are non-black. Be a body, be useful, and be a shield if you must. Do not incite violence or give the police more reason to become violent. Film any wrongdoings and acts of police brutality if possible. It is important to make sure these occurrences are documented. Overall, please be safe and responsible, but do your part to enact change in a country where it is so desperately needed.


Ocasio-Cortez, A. (n.d.). Protesting Safely. Retrieved from

Rodriguez, A., & Loehrke, J. (2020, June 3). Protesters should know how to protect themselves from tear gas, pepper spray. Retrieved from

Smith, J. (2020, June 3). What to Do if You've Been Exposed to Tear Gas, According to an Expert. Retrieved from


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