Sun Protection Tips
Why should we wear sun protective clothing? Good question! Sun protective clothing is typically more expensive than everyday clothing. And, wearing a long sleeve shirt on a hot day just doesn't seem to make sense.... or does it? Being in the sun protection business now for over 11 years I certainly have developed my opinions.... but some of my reasons may surprise you. Let's start by defining "What is sun protective clothing?".Sunscreens are rated by their SPF (sun protective factor). The American Academy of Dermatology recommends looking for an SPF of at least 15. Many sunscreens - even if they have the same SPF numbers - have different ingredients or different combinations of the same ingredients. Sunscreen ingredients that screen out UVA rays include oxybenzone and avobenzone or Parsol 1789. Ingredients that screen out UVB rays include cinnamates and salicylates.
The first thing to keep in mind when picking out sun protection clothing is how its effectiveness is measured. Sunscreen is measured by sun protection factor. This number measures the amount of time that it will take for exposed skin to get red. Eye protection factor is the rating that establishes the amount of eye protection provided from eyewear. Sun protection clothing, however, is measured in ultraviolet protection factor. This number measures how much ultraviolet radiation can penetrate the fabric and reach the skin.The Sun shines a spectrum of radiation. For our purposes we will concentrate on the UVA (ultraviolet A) and UVB (ultraviolet B) rays. It is important to understand two basic characteristics about the radiation you're up against because the strategies of winning are different. UVB is significantly stronger in the summer and between the hours of 10:00 am to 3:00 p.m. UVA, on the other hand, stays at the same intensity all day long and throughout the year.
For most people, sun protection with a sun protection factor of 15 provides adequate protection as long as it's frequently reapplied. However, those with more sensitive skin will benefit from a higher SPF. People who are fair-skinned, have light-colored or red hair or who are traveling to certain high altitude or tropical destinations will also benefit from a higher SPF. Those with darker skin generally don't burn as easily and need only a mild SPF. When choosing remember that a higher SPF does not offer more protection - it offers longer protection.
So just what is Sun Protective Clothing? Researchers have developed new fabrics with embedded compounds that give the clothing an inherent protective quality against the sun. These high tech fabrics can give clothes a SPF of anywhere from a low of 30 up to a high of SPF 100. There is now even a universal guide for labeling sun protective fabric -- the UPF value. On many clothes you will see a UPF value; this is the total Ultraviolet Protection Factor. This UPF value makes it easier for the consumer to compare the protective ability of one article of clothing to another.