(HealthyResearch.com) – If you want to protect your skin from skin cancer and sun damage, then you should pay attention to what you’re wearing. Your clothes are considered the first line of defense against the sun’s harmful rays.
But not all clothing is designed equally. Some pieces will work better than others. We’ve explored different ways that clothes can protect you. Read on to learn more!
What Is UPF?
UPF, or ultraviolet protection factor, is a measurement that applies to fabric to tell us how well it will protect our skin from the sun. UPF clothes block both UVA and UVB rays. It’s like the clothing version of SPF (sun protective factor) in sunscreens. One important distinction is that SPF is only designated as a measure of how well it blocks UVB rays.
If your clothes have a UPF rating, it means that they have undergone tests using resins, dyes, fluorescent brighteners, weaves and compounds to enhance their abilities to absorb and reflect UV rays.
You can find apparel with UPF ratings as high as 50 or as low as 4. A t-shirt with an UPF 50 rating means that the garment will block 98%, or 1/50th, of the sun’s rays.
In order to qualify for the Seal of Recommendation from the Skin Cancer Foundation, you need a fabric with at least a UPF of 30. UPF 30 to UPF 49 will give you excellent protection. If you can find a rating of 50+, it’s even better.
4 Ways Clothing Offers Sun Protection
When you are shopping for new duds, there are four essential factors to keep in mind.
The most important factor when it comes to protection from the sun is the weave density of the garments. If you wear fabrics with a tighter weave or knit, you will have more protection because the smaller holes allow fewer UV rays to pass through.
Look for semisynthetic and synthetic fibers like rayon, polyester, corduroy to get maximum protection. Be careful about wearing natural lightweight fabrics like cotton, silk and crepe because they can let more of the light through.
Choosing the right clothing color is another way that you might protect yourself from the sun. Darker, brighter colors are better than lighter colors or white. The darker colors like red, navy blue and black keep the UV rays from getting to your skin. These deeper colors work by absorbing the sun instead of letting it penetrate.
You will be better off with more vivid colors. A bright pink shirt will be more protective than a pale pink one, for example.
3. UPF Rating
The UPF rating indicates how well the fabric protects the wearer from the sun. The higher the UPF, the better. The UPF rating is usually found on clothing labels or tags.
No matter what level of UPF protection your clothes offer, it’s worth mentioning that if the fabric becomes wet or stretched, it will lose some of its ability to protect because stretched or wet apparel becomes more transparent. That leaves skin more exposed to UV light.
4. Fit and Coverage
Making sure that your clothing provides enough coverage and fits properly can also protect you from the sun. The more skin coverage, the better. Looser clothing is also a better idea because stretch fabric becomes more transparent, allowing more UV rays to shine through.
Clothing can certainly help protect you from the sun’s damaging rays. But clothes aren’t your only line of defense. Sunscreen, hats and sunglasses are also valuable tools to protect you from damaging UV rays and reduce your risk of skin cancer.
~Here’s to Your Health & Safety!
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