I’m sure you have heard by now about the damage UV rays can do to your skin, from premature aging to skin cancer. Unfortunately, many people often tend to forget to protect their skin unless they’re spending a day at the beach or pool. Remember that your skin can get harmful sun exposure even when you’re not outside all day long, and UV rays don’t go away in the winter!
You have probably heard about wearing UV-blocking clothing. But does it really work? The simple answer is, yes. The most effective way to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays is to wear sun-safe clothing. The more of your skin you’re able to cover, the better. This also includes wearing a hat and sunglasses when you’re spending time outdoors!
What Types of Clothing Are Sun-safe?
Obviously, not every type of clothing is going to serve as good protection from the sun. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that pants are going to be more protective than shorts. It also shouldn’t take much to realize that different fabrics are going to be more protective than others. While you may be wearing something with long sleeves, it won’t be as effective if it’s made with a loosely woven fabric that the sun can easily penetrate. The tighter knit the fabric, the more protection it will provide for your skin.
UV Rays and the Color of Your Clothes
Ever thought the color of your clothing could affect the amounts of UV rays getting through? Did you know that darker fabrics absorb more UV rays than lighter ones? Also, the brighter and richer the color, the more ability the fabric has to absorb UV rays before it hits your skin.
Clothing with UPF Labels
Have you ever seen the letters, UPF on clothing labels? This stands for Ultraviolet Protection Factor. This is the sun-protection rating for clothing, as SPF is to cosmetics and sunscreens. UPF is the measurement of the amount of UVA and UVB radiation that is able to get through the clothing to your skin. UPF labels on clothing normally run from 15 (good) to 50 (excellent).
When you are looking for clothing, instead of trying to figure out how protective it will be just by feeling the fabric or holding it up to the light (which unfortunately is not a good way to measure UV protection), it’s helpful to find pieces that include the UPF rating on the label. Sadly, not all brands carry this rating. Remember that fabrics like denim, even if there is no UPF label, are going to offer more sun protection than others. When looking for clothing with the UPF label, try finding pieces with a UPF of 30 or more.
Choosing Your Sun-protection Head Gear
When choosing a hat to provide protection from the sun, try finding a wide-brimmed hat (with a brim of 3-inches or greater) that will protect not only your head but the tops of your ears and the back of your neck. This will help cover some of those areas that are much harder to protect with sunscreen.
Wear UV-blocking sunglasses with bigger lenses to cover a greater area around your eyes. When you protect your eyes from being exposed to the sun for large amounts of time, you reduce your risk of getting certain kinds of eye diseases.
Do I Still Need Sunscreen?
Even when you are doing your best to wear UV-blocking clothing, don’t forget sunscreen for the areas that are not protected. More than likely, you are not going to be covered from head to toe with sun-safe clothing. Apply sunscreen to areas that are exposed, like your face and neck, and also under clothing pieces that won’t provide enough protection.
To learn more about protecting your skin from harmful sun exposure or other skincare tips, don’t hesitate to contact us at Front Range Dermatology.