The one thing you aren’t doing to protect your skin from the sun

Sun protectionWith the summer upon us, we can’t help but get out and soak up the wonderful sunshine, reaping the benefits of a good mood, positive state of mind and high Vitamin D levels. We all know the warning, “Too much of a good thing, can be bad for you”, so we have our sunscreen and sunglasses ready, and stay out of the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.  But what about our clothes?

Clothing can be the single most effective way of protecting our skin from the sun. Covering up with clothing has long been recommended to protect our skin from the sun’s ultraviolet rays by the American Cancer Society.   Clothing protects us by blocking or absorbing the rays from the sun.  It’s important to know clothing offers different levels of protection.

Here are some factors to consider:

  • The more skin your clothes cover, the more protection the clothes can provide; long sleeves, skirts and pants are a good choice
  • Tightly woven fabrics offer the best protection, think blue jeans or canvas, versus cotton or sheer materials. Here’s an easy test; The American Cancer society shared, if you can see light through the material, UV rays will get through too.  So hold the garment up to the light and see how much comes through.
  • Dark or bright colors generally provide more protection than light. They absorb more of the UV rays than paler shades. Try red or black over pastels.
  • Normally dry is better than wet, wet clothes generally allow more UV rays to penetrate.
  • The higher the UPF rating, the more protection.  UPF is the UV protection factor which measures the fraction of the sun’s rays the material lets through. For example a UPF of 50 means the material only lets through 1/50th of the sun’s rays. In other words, it blocks  49/50th’s or about 98% of the UV rays.  Many companies are now helping to make lightweight, comfortable, clothing with UV protection even when wet, a great choice for hot days or days at the beach.
  • A hat with at least a three-inch brim is recommended to shade the face, neck and shoulders; so think of an outback or sun hat, instead of a baseball cap.

Take these factors into consideration when making clothing choices to help increase your protection from the sun’s harmful rays and help you safely enjoy its benefits.

Photo credit: Ander Adermark


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