Sun Blocking Clothing

Can I Get A Sunburn Through My Shirt?

Can you get a sunburn through your shirt?  Sunburn What Is It

Sun burn looks like this

Yes, you can. The UVB rays can cause damage to your skin even with your shirt on.  Normal clothing does not usually offer all the protection you need.  

UPF clothing will stop these rays and so will tightly woven fabrics. Yes, sunscreen can offer help when applied often and correctly. Sun protection

Golden Rule for sun protection shirts.:

Something is better than nothing.  Any kind of shirt is better than no shirt.  Shirt fabric isn’t all equal.  Some fabrics will result in shirts that protect better than others.

The clothing you wear can have an impact on how well you can protect yourself. In most regular non-specialized clothing, lightweight or your favorite tee shirt or pair of jeans, are older and worn. Older fabric offers only a UPF of 4-7. 

If you want to optimize your protection factor, there are certain colors, styles, and types of fabrics that are proven to help.  Just to make sure you realize here that I am referring to regular clothing from your closet.

The Skin Cancer Association has set a UPF rating of at least 30 as the lowest UPF rating for clothing that can protect your skin enough to recommend it.  Otherwise, there is little protection for your skin.  

Will You Get Sunburn Through Your Regular Clothes?

Through the years we have grown less careful about covering our bodies when getting into the sun. Add to that, most of us are guilty of wearing our favorite shirt that has been washed and worn to the perfect state of soft and lightweight. Especially in our hot-weather times.

Yes, getting a sunburn can happen. Some changes were the only answer.

My son and both daughters have been diagnosed and treated for basal cell carcinoma. I have had one squamous cell carcinoma. For all of us, the dermatologist recommended that we all stay out of the hotter rays of the sun.

While we can do adjust our lifestyle, it is often not practical to completely avoid being out and in some sun. Having a life out of the sun 100% is hard for all of us.

People who have hobbies and yards to keep will have to be out some to enjoy their life.

In our part of the world, you will get lots of exposure year around driving. We are in small towns, and often the kid’s ball games will require commuting to a town nearby to find enough kids of their age and skill level to offer competition.

Often grocery shopping is a 45-minute drive each way. Driving in the sun is just a way of life for us.

As we began to think about ways to be safer in the sun, we knew that covering up would offer an easier and safer way to stay active and involved.

Remembering the ballgame my daughter attended that resulted in a sunburn reminding me of the one pictured at the top of this post, we knew the shirt she wore would not work. Even with sunscreen, I am not sure it would be a good choice.

Rethinking How To Avoid Sunburn

So, then I started to wonder about how the sun could penetrate our regular clothing. We had already proven that yes, you can get sunburned through certain types of clothing.

Clothing from my closet, including t-shirts, light-colored clothing, and lightly woven fabrics, are more apt to allow me to sunburn.

But other types of clothing can block 100% of the sun’s rays.

One sunburn every two years will triple your risk of developing melanoma (the deadliest form of) skin cancer.

Will We Do Better With UPF Clothing?

Sunburns can happen through your regular clothing from the closet. 

A sunburn is a kind of burn that happens when the skin is exposed to sunlight for too long. The ultraviolet part of sunlight breaks down natural chemicals in your skin. So yes, we need to be concerned about sunburn.

UPF Clothing seems like a reasonable way to protect your skin.

  • UPF Clothing;  When the fabric is UPF treated for sun blocking purposes, you know that a layer of protection is there for your skin. Fabric rated at 50 gives you the most protection you can get from fabric alone.  
  • This UPF garment should protect your skin for up to 2 years the manufacturers consider the lifetime of that garment.    
  • If You don’t have special UPF Clothing:  Hold the item up between you and the sun.  If you see the sun in little pinholes, the sun will see your skin through these same pinholes.  Apply a 30 or higher broad-spectrum sunscreen all over your body, even where your garment will cover.
  • A tightly woven fabric will protect you better.
  • Choose fabric in a deeper color tone to protect better than a lighter color.  Choose royal blue, deep red, black, or brown instead of white, pale yellow, pink, or blue.  Let the color help protect your skin.

Suggestions That Will Help.

As you are learning to protect your skin from the danger of too much sun, I am sure you are aware of the UPF rating in clothing.  50 is the highest and most preferred level of clothing sun blocking ability.

Clothing with a UPF rating is recommended for when you will be out in the hotter part of the day.   Protecting yourself with sunscreen alone is impossible without reapplying many times a day to all bare skin.  

It is easier to use protective clothing than to add more sunscreen. Your face, your ears, neck, and nose are easier to reach.  You can add more protection with a wide-brimmed hat.  Layering your sun protection with sun blocking clothing and sunscreen is better than trying to do all clothing or all sunscreen.

Your sunglasses, your sun blocking hat, and a sun blocking shirt will give you more layers of protection from the sun.  When out on a beach, keeping your arms and body safe with a coverup is a great layer to add. A loosely fitting coverup allows airflow and helps you keep your skin protection going.

Did You Know?

Wearing full coverage bangs, across your forehead, similar to what Justin Beiber wears can be good for your skin.  Yes, he has been around for a while.  In 2014 the American Medical Association gathered information from dermatologists finding fewer freckles on the foreheads of boys who wore this style of hair. 

This lack of freckles means that there was less skin damage.  Less chance of skin cancer throughout their lifetime on their forehead.  This is where a large number of male patients experience skin cancers as they age.  

Do you drive your vehicle?  Does your family ride with you?  The Skin Cancer Foundation states that your windshields are formulated to block UVA and UVB rays.  For some reason, the rear and side windows aren’t held to the same standards.

A suggestion for your skin safety is tinting or laminating windows with UV protective film.  The legality of window tinting varies between states, so check your local laws before you tint.  This is such a no-brainer. Do you remember a sunburn from riding in the car? I sure do.

Another simple tip is to keep your clothing dry.  Clothing loses some of its ability to protect you from the sun when wet.  Use a dry coverup to avoid too much sun.

A Sexy Tan Will Make You Look Old and Wrinkled Way Quickly

Are you like I used to be, you are thinking that skin cancer is not in your future? After all, it is rare and it only kills about 10,000 Americans each year. That makes your odds of dying from skin cancer pretty low, doesn’t it?

You’ve been telling yourself that you won’t be one of the unlucky ones. Remember all those times you had sunburn as a child, and as you outgrew that, you still continue to want to tan all summer long.

Hopefully, you can continue to be lucky and not develop skin cancer.

You won’t get off free, however. You won’t miss the UV from the sun. The same UV that not only causes skin cancer? Those are the same UV rays that cause premature wrinkles.

Those same rays will cause those brown spots on your skin that we refer to as age spots. They are different from freckles. You could be me and have both!

All these things will make you look much older than you really are.

So many women (and men) are paying for fancy skin creams and Botox treatments trying to make them look younger. Yet, they are not doing anything to prevent one of the main things that are causing them to wrinkle in the first place.

Protecting your skin from the sun. Wear your sunglasses. Your sun-blocking hat and shirt. Remember sunscreen. That will help more as the years pass.

Skin Safety Awareness

While there is a possibility that you can get sunburn through your clothing, you can also protect yourself.

  1. Make sure to have some sort of sun blocking coverup garment if you are participating in a sport outdoors.  Warm-ups may be all you need, but make sure by checking to see if you can see the sun through them. 
  2. Have your wider brim sun hat to protect your head, face, ears, nose, and neck.  Caps are helpful, but hats with brims are better.   Sunscreen to reapply often.
  3. If you are waiting for your time to compete, don’t sit out in the sun, get to a shady spot. Either a structure shade, trees, or awning of some sort. 
  4. Remember, drink lots of water.  Being out in the fresh air makes you thirsty even when the sun is not so bright.  So staying hydrated reduces the effect of the sun and helps speed recovery.
  5. Try to limit your hours in the hot sun between the hours of 10 AM and 4 PM.  These hours are the hottest of the day when the sun can do the most damage to your skin.  Avoiding exposing your skin to the sun, even when wearing UPF clothing is a better route to healthier skin.
Sun Blocking Clothing To Protect Your Skin
Sami’s Take On Can I Get A Sunburn Through My Shirt

I think there are some excellent choices of sun blocking shirts in your closet. However, the sun will give you a sunburn if the shirt is too thin, worn out, or fits too tightly.

A proper long sleeve loose-fitting shirt made of a tightly-woven fabric should prevent the sun from coming through. Especially if it is a darker-colored one.

Now that we are aware of what it takes to protect yourself from the sun, you can avoid the sun coming through your shirt. Avoid sunburn.

Protecting your skin from the sun can happen if you are aware of how to do it. We have all ignored helping ourselves with some common-sense habits. We have not made a few changes to improve our skin’s chance to stay healthy.

We wanted to wear tank tops, and not wear sun blocking hats when outside during the hotter times of the day. Covering your skin is a natural and easier thing to do.

Do you think that you won’t get skin cancer after risking yourself too many times? Skin cancer occurs. How many free passes will you get before the skin cancer starts appearing?

Do you have more questions about sun blocking clothing? Are the UPF and USP differences still make you wonder? Please leave a comment or question. I have done a lot of research about how we can protect our skin, maybe I can help. What has been your experience with using clothing to protect your skin?

Thank you, Sami

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