Clothing for Sun Protection: How to be Trendy From UV Rays.

Veronica Prez 2021-06-03 8 min

As summer is coming, sun protection is calling. Surely, an hour on a shiny day under the sun it's a small pleasure we all enjoy having. But, what about UV rays? According to Skin Cancer Foundation 1 out of 5 Americans will develop skin cancer by age 70. And one of the two main causes of skin cancer is the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. The good news is that prevention it's an effective alternative for avoiding sun's UV rays damage and clothing sun protection, an attractive and easy choice for that purpose. The second main cause for skin cancer is the use of UV tanning beds, a beauty option just for those who are truly searching for a tanned skin instead of a healthy one.

Lakeside Sunbathing
Lakeside Sunbathing - Pixabay

15 to 35 kilometers above Earth's surface, a gas called ozone surrounds the planet. The atmospheric ozone layer acts as a barrier between Earth and ultraviolet radiation from the sun, particularly harmful UVB-type rays. However, pollution has caused the ozone layer to thin, exposing life on Earth to dangerous radiation. You can learn more about the ozone layer in our article Depletion of the Ozone Layer: Impact on Planet Earth. Exposure to UVB radiation is linked with increased risk of skin cancer and cataracts, as well as damage to plants and marine ecosystems. In that context, why not consider clothing for sun protection the alternative to counteract effects on skin of a thin ozone layer?

The skin needs sunlight in order to be able to manufacture vitamin D, which is important for normal bone formation. It also prevents mood enhancement (technically known as Seasonal Affective Disorder - SAD). Studies have shown that the rate of serotonin production in the brain is directly influenced by the amount of sunlight the body is exposed to on a given day. Serotonin levels are higher on bright days than on cloudy days. Serotonin is a potent brain chemical that controls mood and is associated with feelings of happiness. That's why shining smiles on shining days.

Learn more about healthy sunbathing here Sun and Skin protection: How To Healthily Enjoy Sun Exposure.

Woman Sitting on Textiles Applying Suncsreen
Photo by RF._.studio from Pexels

But there’s a downside. The sun's ultraviolet light can cause major damage to the skin. The skin on its outer layer is composed by cells that contain the pigment melanin. Melanin acts as a protection for skin from the sun's ultraviolet rays. These can burn the skin and attempt against its elasticity, leading to premature aging.

The amount of UV light that comes into contact with the skin depends on several factors, such as time of day, season, altitude and geographical location. During periods of intense UV radiation, for example, at midday or on a hot summer day, it is advisable to wear protective clothing (clothing for sun protection consists of an trully innovation for this) and apply sunscreen when going outside.

Sunlight, especially UVA and UVB rays, can cause sunburn, premature skin aging, eye damage, weakening of the immune system, photoallergic and phototoxic reactions and even skin cancer. Doctors and dermatologists constantly warn about the strong correlation between the frequency of skin cancer and the degree of DNA damage, reminding us that more than 90% of skin cancers are a consequence of sun exposure. It is generally known that the best treatment is prevention through sun protection.

Commonly, sunscreen and sun protection items, including clothing for sun protection, are classified by the SPF (Sun Protection Factor) or UPF (Ultraviolet Protector Factor). It consists of a measure of how well sunscreens or, for example, shirts with sun protection, will protect skin from UVB rays. If sun protection clothing for women indicates UPF 15, this means that the skin can be exposed to UVB rays without burning 15 times longer than the same skin without that sun protection clothing. Thus, a person who would burn within 10 minutes of being exposed to the sun, when wearing UPF 15 sleeves for sun protection, the time it will take to burn becomes 150 minutes (10 x 15 = 150 minutes).

It is therefore important to know that the higher the protection factor, the longer the protection time. There´s an usual mistake: In no case does the sun protection factor indicate the degree of tanning tolerance.

Summer Flat Lay - Pixabay License
Summer Flat Lay - Pixabay License

It's there an advantage to clothing for sun protection over sunscreen?

Not really. Sunscreen and sunglasses are complementary to sun protective clothing. Everyday face sunscreen is a great beauty and health care routine. Face skin it's a delicate one and it's usually more exposed to sun damage than the rest of the skin of our body, so it deserves not only a proper hat but also a sunscreen design for it. Nowadays even make up products consider UPF in its composition.

Scientific studies of different technical textiles, carried out in several technological centers, show that the protection of textiles against ultraviolet rays from the sun depends on several factors. Yes, you´re right, your clothing can shield you from the sun. But, all fabrics and colors provide equal protection? Luckily not. There's plenty of options and when shopping for apparel or thinking about your OOTD that can effectively shield you from harmful rays, you should keep some factors in mind.

Taking color into account in sun protection clothing for women, men or children, we should consider that dark or bright colors keep UV rays from reaching your skin by absorbing them rather than allowing them to penetrate. That’s why these colors offer better protection than lighter shades. Also, if we think about the construction of textiles, densely woven cloth, like denim, canvas, wool or synthetic fibers, are more protective than thin or loosely woven cloth.

An easy way to check this is holding it up to the light. If you are able to see through, UV radiation can penetrate the fabric with ease and will quickly reach your skin, just like light does.

The Composition of your fabric really matters in terms of UV protection.

Unbleached cotton has in it internal structure, natural lignins that work as UV absorbers. Also shiny polyesters and even lightweight satiny silks can have high performance in UV protection because they reflect radiation. Textile innovation has led to high-tech fabrics that are treated with chemical UV absorbers or dyes to avoid some penetration from UV rays. Also, apparel design can set the standard of clothing for sun protection.

Loose-fitting apparel is preferable over tight clothing, due to the fact that tight clothing can stretch and lose some level of protection offered, as the fibers recede from each other and allow more UV light to pass through. If sun protection shirts for women have sleeves for sun protection and also loose-fit, you will be on the right path for your skin health. Of course, the more skin your outfit covers, the better your protection. Whenever possible, choose sun protection long sleeve shirts and long pants or skirts.

Fortunately and increasingly, some apparel manufacturers provide UPF labels, which indicate exactly how much sun’s UV radiation rays the garment can shield. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation’s, a fabric must have a UPF of 30 to qualify for a special recognition from the institution.

Family all wearing floppy  hats on the beach
Robin Jonathan Deutsch in Unsplash

Bamboo fibre is really well ranked when talking about natural fibres. It is superior in softness, breathability, thermoregulation, absorbency and moisture wicking properties. Also, bamboo fibre is usually presented as an eco-friendly fibre, as the bamboo plant is probably one of the world's most sustainable resources. It develops very quickly and easily, it doesn’t need agrochemicals, and it doesn’t need to be replanted after harvest because it regrows from the roots. What's more, Bamboo has the unique quality of being resistant to harmful UV rays. There is no other natural fibre used for textiles that has this very useful property, and that's why it deserves the crown for sun protection fibres.

Brands thinking about clothing for sun protection

From mountain trekking to an elegant summer trip

You may probably think of clothing for sun protection as boring items for classic and sporty users. However, many brands offer sophisticated printed items including versatile dresses, skirts and shirts with sun protection for women. Cabana life is an example of how clothing for sun protection can express identity and style while taking care of our skin. Your outfits can be both fashionable and functional on a plane summer trip. UV Skinz specialize on swimming wear apparel for women, men and kids, a wide range of trendy designs that are a certificate of skin care during swimming pool or seaside activities. But also provides everyday clothes as a guarantee of versatility and variety of clothing for sun protection. There's no context excuses to wear clothes that are sun shields.

Hats, umbrellas and gloves, sun shields as a must

Hats are a must in terms of sun protection because they help safeguard your face, scalp and neck and Coolibar and Solumbra know that. You will find more hat options than imagine to be protected during a tennis match, a gardening morning or a relaxing sightseeing. Also sunglasses, umbrellas and even gloves are offered by these brands.

Person Walking On The Seashore Holding Blue Umbrella
Photo by Marina Sirazetdinova from Pexels

The Skin Cancer Foundation (SCF) and other organizations that are specialists on sun damage and sun protection support most of these brands. It's important to check stylish looks, but also scientific knowledge when talking about health. Amazon.com it's always the option for shopping clothing for sun protection as well.

The wide variety of options probably means these are a type of item that will nearly be a must in every summer, sportswear and outdoor wardrobe. What do you think?

Veronica Prez

A little person trying to be part of a big change. Compost lover. Editor at Sustainable Warriors.

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