What is the finest way to protect yourself from sun’s ultraviolet rays, given that you need to travel, work and play outside? Clothing is considered the best method of sun protection. But not all clothes are equal; some of it is not good at all protecting you. So, what is sun-safe clothing?
What is sun-safe UV protection clothing?
It is always important to protect the skin from the sun's ultraviolet rays to avoid risks of premature aging, and skin cancer. This means the more skin you cover the better. A long sleeved shirt is better than a T-shirt, and long pants are better than short ones. More importantly the fabric need to have special characteristics such as tight woven threads to prevent the sun rays from getting through the fabric. Avoid fabric which have been chemically treated to provide sun protection, this type of fabric will lose its UV protection ability over time and after each wash.
What to look for when choosing sun protective clothing?
Not all fabric is equal. When choosing sun protection clothing, make sure to look for a tag with high ultraviolet protection factor ratings. The UPF rating give information on how much sun ultraviolet rays pass through dry material. Any clothing above UPF 15 offers good protection against UV radiation, however, UPF50+ is the best which blocks over 97.5% of the sun UVA and UVB radiation. Sun protective clothing offer protection to the skin by reflecting and absorbing UV radiation that strikes the fabric.
Even though some type of fabrics can provide protection from the sun irrespective if they are UPF rated or not, it is vital to check some factors such as fabric texture, color, and style which can provide better protection.
1. Fabric structures
Fabric structure matters a lot, whether woven or knitted, the tighter the fabric the better for sun protection. When the fibers of tightly are closer together, less UV radiation is able to pass through the skin. Lightweight fabrics which are natural such as cotton or linen will also help to keep your skin cooler. Always remember that the tighter the weave, the smaller the fabric holes and the less UV can get through.Example microfiber fabrics will provide more protection that regular fiber fabrics.
Another factor to consider is tension. If you buy a fabric that fits just right, it will provide better level of protection than if fabric is over-stretched. This is very common in elasticized and knitted fabrics such as swimwear materials. Always ensure you choose the correct size with snug fit but not over-stretching. If you love wearing extensible fabrics, go for fabric colors and structures that offer greater protection.
3. UPF rating
This factor is very important to consider. Even though evaluating fabric content, weight and color are supportive at sizing up UV protection, it is hard to pinpoint how much a piece of fabric is protective by looking at it. the function of blocking UV radiation waves is not visible or can be measured by simply viewing the fabric. The best solution is to choose clothing with UPF ratings. The UPF label means that the clothing has been tested, and the customers can be sure about the recorded level of protection. Normally, it is based on weight, color, fabric construction and content. For example, a shirt with UPF of 50 allows 1/50th of UV radiation to touch your skin. This would offer outstanding sun protection, compared to a thin white cotton shirt, which allows 1/5th of the sun’s UV through, and even more when it is wet. Always go for UPF50+ ratings. They offer the best protection.
However, customers themselves can advance a piece of fabric’s UPF. First, you need to wash it. This is to make the garment shrink a bit, and to close up the holes in the fabric that can allow UV radiation in. Numerous tests have also shown that you can wash in extra protection and raise the UPF with UV-filtering dyes and other additives.
Most dyes absorb UV radiation. If you choose darker colors such as black, dark red and navy will absorb more UV radiation than lighter fabrics.This techniques has been proven across many type of sun protection clothing fabrics, the darker the color is the more mean UPF protection factor.
5. Moisture content
Most clothing provide less protection from UV radiation when wet. How much less protection will definitely depend on the type of fabric, and also the amount of moisture it can absorb. To reduce the effect of the moisture, you can take dry clothing to change into or dipping in and out of water. Always select a fabric that offer effective protection from UV radiation, and one that will dry very quickly.
6. Caring for your fabric
Washing new clothing can increase their sun protection, especially if made from natural fibers. This is a good way to increase UPF ratings. Washing clothing fabric can tighten its fibers which will allow less sunlight or UV radiation to pass through, however this techniques works on certain type of fabrics, such as cotton blends which tend to shrink when washed.
Here are a few tips for buying protective clothing:
1. Always purchase clothes that fits your purpose. You do not need a very heavy shirt for going to the beach, but a long-sleeved and tightly woven linen shirt is great. It can be cool for you and sun-smart.
2. If you are buying elastic clothes such as leggings, make sure you get the right size. Overstretching lowers the UPF rating.
3. Go for clothing with a UPF50+, this ensure you are getting operational sun protection clothing.
4. Choose clothes that cover more of your skin. There is no point of wearing a high-UPF bikini. In its place, buy a rash guard or a swim shirt that is made of lightweight, elastic materials such as spandex. These tops will cover your upper body and will not weigh you down. You can also buy beach skirts to put on you when leaving the water. A full body swimsuit also called stinger suit or dive skin can provide full body skin protection, and are very flexible to wear all day long.
5. Wash any new garment made from cotton or cotton blends 2 to 3 times at least. This normally offer permanently raise the UPF rating because of the shrinkage of the spaces between fabric fibers.
6. Choose wide brimmed hats that will shade your face, your neck and your ears.
7. When you are outdoors, always prefer shaded areas under awnings or trees> this will minimize the time in the direct sun.
8. Most people do not know that UV can bounce back. Be aware, UV light can bounce off surfaces like water, glass and snow, hitting your body skin twice and also increasing the intensity of exposure.
Sun protective clothing is suitable for all people, both babies and adults. To make it attractive to everyone, especially kids, go for light, bright, fun and fashionable clothing. Babies swimwear are also UPF rated. It is therefore good that you protect children younger than 6 months of age with clothing and always keep them in the shade. Choose hats and shade your child face, neck and even ears. Sun protection clothing is the best type of protecting your skin.
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