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!


Clothes That Provide Sun Protection June 17, 2010

Depending on where you live summer has already begun (or never left) or it is just around the corner.  I’ve written again and again and again in this blog about using your sunscreen daily and reapplying it as well.  I thought it best to shift gears a bit and write about another way to get proper sun protection – by wearing sun protective clothes and hats.

It turns out that a standard white t-shirt only provides a protection of SPF 5 when dry and 2 when wet.  The darker or more tightly woven your clothes are the more sun protection they provide (truthfully I don’t know the spf ratings for those clothes), but many of us don’t wear clothes like that during the summer.  As the heat intensifies our clothes get lighter and well frankly generally shorter and smaller. 

You can buy sun protective clothing that is made to absorb ultraviolet light.  Usually light-weight polyester, nylon, cotton jersey, or linen these clothes have a tight, nonporous weave and the material is treated with sunscreens.  Sun protective clothing has a UPF rating or ultraviolet protective factor rating which is regulated by both the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Consumer Products Commission (CPSC).  UPF ratings vary from 30 to 50.  The fabrics used for these types of clothing are durable, and the sun protection cannot be washed out over time.

A few sources for sun protective clothes areCoolibar,  Solumbra, BloqUV, and Shady Lady Products.   Shady Lady Products is a particularly good site since they have items for adults and kids including clothes, hats, sunglasses, sunscreens, and stroller covers – among many other things.



Another Option:  Wash The Sun Protection Into Your Clothes


You can actually wash sun protection into your clothes using a product called SunGuard.  After you’ve laundered your clothes with this detergent like product your clothes will have a UPF 30 protection factor, and the treated clothes stay that way for up to 20 washings.  This product is very affordable – one package costs $1.99 (plus shipping).



Sun Protective Clothes for Your Kids


It is actually very easy and affordable to buy sun protective swim wear for your kids.  I’ve purchased numerous items for my son at Target, Old Navy, and even the Disney store (Buzz Lightyear waterproof swim hat anyone?).  As mentioned above you can wash your kids day-to-day clothes with SunGuard in order to give them UPF 30 protection.   And there is always The One Step Ahead  and Shady Lady Products for more sun protective gear for your kids.  For more information about protecting your kids from the sun see my earlier post:  Sun Care for Your Baby and Child.


And Don’t Forget Your Hat


Another excellent way to protect your face, neck, and ears from the sun is a hat.  The websites cited above have hats for sale with UPF protection or consider buying from Village Hat Shop .  If you like hats in general this is a great website.  I have tons of hair and a large head (really) and can never just buy a hat off the shelf in a store, but I found the perfect sun hat on this website.  Depending on the hat they can be very affordable as well.  Also consider buying a hat from Wallaroo Hat Company – they have a great selection for women, men, and children.


 Source and Further Reading:   Simple Skin Beauty by Ellen Marmur, MD – pages 135-136



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