Sun Protection You Can Wear: Clothing – Jill Sung

8 Jun

This JUARA Girl’s got it covered!

What should I wear? I go through this decision process on a daily basis – and there’s no limit to how many outfit changes I can make just to go to the grocery store… But what I should be thinking, and have been more, is how much UV radiation is out there and what’s the best way to protect myself from sun damage.  (For those of you just joining this UV foray, find out more about UV rays how to check the amount you’re receiving in last month’s blogs.) Moving on, did you know that clothes offer UV protection? It’s actually pretty easy to incorporate into your daily summer wardrobe.

UPF: Ultraviolet Protection Factor: What is it?

UPF indicates how much of the sun’s UV radiation is absorbed. A fabric with a rating of 50 will allow only 1/50th of the sun’s UV rays to pass through. This means the fabric will reduce your skin’s UV radiation exposure significantly, because only 2 percent of the UV rays will get through.

What’s the UPF of my clothes?

Tightly knit/thickness: Lightweight and loosely-woven fabrics do NOT offer much protection from the sun. A white T-shirt provides only moderate protection from sunburn, with an average UPF of 6 (16% of sun’s rays pass through). On the other hand, a dark denim has about  UPF 1,700 – basically complete sun block. In general, clothing made of tightly-woven fabric best protects skin from the sun. The easiest way to check fabric protection is to hold it up to the light. If you can see through it, then UV radiation can penetrate your clothes – and your skin! And thicker fabrics such as velvet in black, blue or dark green have an approximate UPF of 50. Also, if it doesn’t cover your skin, it’s not protecting you! Long sleeves are obviously better than short sleeves…

Color: Darker-colored fabrics are more effective than lighter ones at blocking out the sun. For example, the UPF of a green cotton T-shirt is 10 versus 6 for white cotton.

Fabric Content: What the clothing is made of matters. Unbleached cotton contains lignins, special pigments that absorb UV. Shiny polyesters and even thin, satiny silk can be highly protective because they reflect radiation.

Activity: If your clothes gets stretched during activity, like yoga, the fabric will lose some of its protective ability because it becomes thinner and more transparent to light. Also, wet clothing can lose up to 50 percent of its UPF, so a wet T-shirt provides a UPF of only 3, allowing 33% of UV rays through to your skin. (Thanks to Skin Cancer Foundation for all their help!)

What other clothes protect from the sun?

Not only can you buy high-tech sun protective clothing made of special weaves with colorless dyes that provide UPF of 15-50 protection, you can actually wash sun protection into the clothes you currently own, and for cheap! $2 buys you a colorless additive, Sun Guard, that provides a UPF of 30 (blocks more than 96% of UV) to your laundry for up to 20 washings!

Next up, what else to wear…with clothing must come accessories! What else can you do? Any more fun sun facts we should share?

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