Many of us are familiar with the routine of applying (and hopefully reapplying) sunscreen when spending the day outside. For those of us who may not be the best at remembering to reapply, or are just looking for a different option when seeking out protection from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays, consider giving sun protective clothing a try this summer!
According to the American Cancer Society, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer, which is why it is so important to use proper sun protection. Basal and squamous cell skin cancers are the most common types of skin cancers, caused by overexposure of sun to the skin. Melanoma skin cancers are also linked to sun exposure, but this kind of cancer is more likely to spread than the other types of skin cancer. Luckily, if skin cancer is identified early, it is highly treatable. Since skin cancer is so common, it is important to take extra precautions when spending extended time in the sun.
Unlike sunscreen, sun protective clothing’s range of protection is measured using UPF rather than SPF. UPF stands for ultraviolet protection factor, which unlike SPF’s ability to only measure UVB, UPF measures both UVA and UVB protection. UPF sun protective clothing can range from a rating of 5 to 50+. Wearing clothing that offers at least 30 UPF is ideal, but of course- the higher the UPF rating, the better the protection. As the UPF rating increases, the percentage of UV rays that are able to pass through the clothing decreases. For example, clothes specifically engineered to have higher UPF ratings will provide more protection than your average white t-shirt would. However, if you’re not in the market to update your closet, opting for darker colored clothing will absorb more of the UV rays than a white t-shirt would! Additionally, opting for tighter-knit fabrics or layers can add extra protection without updating your wardrobe.
Other accessories can be multi-functional, too. Most common are sunglasses with lenses that offer 100% UV protection, which can be a style and safety choice all in one! Hats also work to offer protection of not only the top of the head, but also the face and neck. Of course, it is always best to apply sunscreen to any areas of the skin which are not covered by clothes or accessories.
Check out these articles to learn more about SPF, UPF, and sun protective clothing!: