Askanesthetician's Blog

An esthetician explores skincare issues and concerns

Stylish Sun Protective Clothing: Not an Oxymoron June 30, 2011

As summer kicks into high gear I want to remind my readers that a great way to protect yourself from the sun is to wear clothes with built- in sun protection or UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor).  What exactly is UPF and why do you want clothes that have it?  The website SunSational Style explains:

Both SPF (Sun Protection Factor) and UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) are standards used to measure sunburn protection from UVA and UVB sun rays. SPF, the standard used to measure the effectiveness of sunscreens, has been around for many years. The UPF system is relatively new and was created specially for sun protective fabrics.
SPF, is a gauge of how much time a person can be exposed to the sun before getting burned. For example, if you burn in 10 minutes without sunscreen and you apply a liberal dose of sunscreen with a SPF 30, you should be protected from a sunburn for 300 minutes (this will vary based on exposure to water and sweat).
UPF rating indicates how much of the sun’s UV radiation is absorbed by the fabric. For example, a fabric with a UPF rating of 50 only allows 1/50th of the sun’s UV radiation to pass through it. This means that this fabric will reduce your skin’s UV radiation exposure by 50 times (98% UV block) in areas where the skin is protected by the fabric. A normal light t-shirt may only provide a UPF 5 sun protection whereas a light-weight sun protective shirt would block 98% of the sun’s harmful rays and keep your skin cooler.
Unlike sunscreens, the UPF sun protection does not wash off or lessen in it’s effectiveness so you can remain confident in your protection all day long. Another advantage of the UPF standard is that both UVB and UVA are measured.
That’s great and all, but here’s the problem, and I’ll be blunt, most clothes with UPF are ugly in my opinion.  Luckily lately a few companies have been producing stylish clothes that also protect you from the sun.  Here are a few companies of those companies:
  • Mott 50  (This company has been getting quite a fair share of press for its clothes)
  • Athleta   –  these are clothes for the more athleticly minded women
  • ExOfficio – more run of the mill clothes but they definitely have a few nice pieces
  • Coolibar – great basics with UPF protection
  • Roxy – swim and surf wear with UPF protection for the whole family

There is one more way to get clothes with built in sun protection – wash it in with SunGuard.  This is a really cheap and easy way to get UPF protection into all your clothes for your entire family.  Throw this powder in with your wash and viola! all the clothes come out with UPF 30 that lasts up to 20 washes.  I’ve done this for my family, and it makes me feel good to know that we all have extra protection from the sun this summer.

For more information on sun protective clothing please see this article – Clothing: Our First Line of Defense – from The Skin Cancer Foundation.

Have a sun safe July 4th weekend!

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