The One Thing You Aren’t Doing to Protect Your Skin From the Sun

A Healthier Michigan

| 3 min read

With summer upon us, you probably can’t help but soak up the wonderful sunshine, which brings the benefits of a good mood, positive state of mind, and high Vitamin D levels. While the sun can be healing, it can also be harmful. Make sure to protect your skin with sunscreen but remember skin protection from sunlight doesn’t stop there.

Sun protection tips for choosing clothing

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 your skin by blocking or absorbing the rays from the sun. It’s important to know that different types of clothing offer different levels of protection.

1. Wear longer clothing

The more skin your clothes cover, the more protection the clothes can provide from sunlight; long sleeves, skirts and pants are a good choice for coverage. If you are worried about overheating, make sure to focus on lightweight and breathable clothing.

2. Tightly-woven clothing 

Tightly-woven fabrics offer the best protection compared to cotton or sheer materials. Here’s an easy test: if you can see light through the material, UV rays will get through too. Hold the garment up to the light and see how much comes through.

3. Use dark or bright colored clothes

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 and avoid white or off-white fabrics.

4. Keep clothes dry

Normally dry is better than wet as wet clothes generally allow more UV rays to penetrate. Consider fast-drying or moisture-wicking clothes, and pack a back-up set of dry clothes if you may get wet.

5. Consider UV protective clothing

The higher the UPF rating, the more protection. UPF is the UV protection factor which measures the fraction of UV light 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 about 98% of the UV rays. Many companies are now making lightweight, comfortable, clothing with UV protection even when wet, a great choice for hot days or days at the beach.

6. Add a hat

A hat with at least a 3-inch brim is recommended to shade the face, neck, and shoulders. Good examples are an outback hat 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.

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