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Can Sunrays Penetrate Clothing

How can sunrays penetrate clothing?  According to Skin Cancer.org:

Don't let the sun penetrate you clothing

If you can see through the garment, the sun’s rays can penetrate it. Hold your shirt up to the light.  See any little pinprick holes?  They will allow the sun’s rays in also.  

The sun’s rays can cause burns because they are so intense.  As research allows you to learn more about how to protect yourself from the sun, it also helps create more ways to stay safe.

For a good while, everyone thought that using sunscreen was the only way to protect your skin.  However, the problems with using sunscreen soon led to researchers another way to protect your skin.

Change Brings Sun Blocking Clothing

The importance of creating clothing to keep the sun off your skin is bringing change. 

When the sun can penetrate your clothes easily, it’s not actually protective.  Yes, it may protect a very marginal amount, and if you have nothing else at that moment, wear it.  Some protection is better than none. Check here for more information about clothes from your closet and sun blocking capability.

The sun blocking fabric manufacturers are able to offer many choices in protective clothing to help you be more comfortable.

Not all fabrics do a good job of protecting you from UV rays. Fabrics that have been specially made to actually protect you from the sun will do a great job of helping your skin stay healthy. How Is Your Sun Blocking IQ?

So What Is One To Do?

You may feel that when you ‘cover-up,’ you’re protecting your skin.  Sometimes, this will be true.   The truth is that many materials actually don’t protect you as much as you might think. 

This is what created the demand for clothing that really could protect your skin from sunburn. Please note, that nothing takes the place of common sense for protecting your skin.  Often the best solution is to stay out of the sun!

The development of sun protective clothing means that now your clothes can be an effective defense against skin cancers, melanoma, and premature skin aging. You will need to do your part by wearing them.

Skin cancer is described as Australia’s ‘national cancer’ but it is also the most preventable.  This is part of the reason they have made such headway in developing sun blocking fabrics. In the United States, it is also known for being preventable.  

However, people of both countries live their lives ignoring the obvious signs of danger to our skin from too much sun. The real danger from too much sun is the accumulative effects.

Yes, there is a danger of getting sunburn so deep that your body can’t heal easily or cool itself properly. This leaves the door open for heat stroke and further complications.

Serious Early Aging

The aging from spending too much time in the sun is difficult to impossible to repair.  We have all lived out in the direct rays with little thought to long-term damage to the skin that keeps us healthy, and our bodies protected.

Over time, the top layers of our skin become thinner and contain fewer “structuring” proteins, such as collagen, that give your skin its shape. 

Our hands quickly show the results of overexposure to the sun. Your hands may start to appear more veiny, thin, and prone to wrinkles as a result. Thin hands are just not where you want to be thin!

 Most people tend to notice this happening when they are in their late 30s and early 40s. And, this is surely not considered old.

Living Safely With The Sun

For the most part, the sun’s damage is accumulative, and therefore subtle.  We all love time in the sun and feeling the rays on our bodies. 

But, oh my, how we pay a few years later.  

So, here’s some help with what you need to know to help you make the right decisions when adding Sun Blocking Clothing to your skin protection routine.

Learning to use what will help us have healthier bodies and skin as we mature, is time well spent. The comic statements about getting old are not for the faint of heart. They certainly knew what they were talking about.

You are old with older skin and bodies longer than you are young. Help your body stay younger longer, and able to make life more fun. Save some of the money you will spend on trying to renew your skin by taking better care of yourself when you are young.

We are moving into late spring and early summer and the weather is starting to warm up.   This warm-up lets you know that it is time to turn your attention from the cooler season when our skin is usually covered up anyhow to stay warm. 

Skin protection from the sun is important.  Don’t open the door to problems like skin cancer and early aging by keeping yourself protected.

Most people understand the need to wear sunblock or SPF protective moisturizer. You know you can also get burnt through your clothes!

The development of sun protective clothing means that now your clothes too can be an effective defense against skin cancers, melanoma, and premature skin aging. 

                          SPF vs UPF

The sun protective rating for clothing is called UPF.   This stands for Ultraviolet Protection Factor. The rating system measures the ultraviolet (UV) protection provided by the fabric. The fabric rating system is very similar to the SPF rating system used for sunscreens.   

SPF is the one most are familiar with, and used for sunscreen.

Many people are shocked to learn that a normal t-shirt or hat, may have a UPF rating as low as 5, which is very similar to sunscreen with just SPF5!  Sunscreen with a rating of only 5 is not considered any extra help at all.  It is better than nothing, just barely.

The highest rating for fabrics available currently is UPF50+. This is almost the same as wearing SPF50+ sunscreen all day long!  Without the need to stop and reapply it every 2 hours. Clothing with UPF50+ blocks out about 98% of the sun’s UVA and UVB rays. 

That is great protection.

Help Understanding UPF Rating Of Fabrics

There are many different things that affect the level of UV protection in clothing, here are some of the more important things to pay attention to:

  • How Tight is the Weave? the tighter the knit or weave for the threads that are used in making the fabric, the better. If the sun can penetrate your clothes easily, it’s not protective. No matter how many hours and how many layers you wear.
  • Type of fabric: Not all fabrics can protect you from UV rays. Some fabrics are more effective than others at blocking out UV radiation. Some synthetic materials like acrylic, polyester, nylon, and lycra or rayon tend to reflect more UV and will offer more protection.
  • Color: Darker is better. You may be tempted to wear light colors When you are in hot sunny weather.  Remember, the UPF rating is higher for darker colors because they absorb more UV rays. The same fabric in a lighter color will reflect the rays which can cause damage from reflected UV exposure.
  • Thickness and weight: Thicker and heavier give better protection.
  • Tension or stretch: Less stretchy is better.
  • Moisture: When the fabric gets wet, it tends to reduce the UPF of that fabric. A thin white cotton t-shirt with a UPF of 5 when dry, may only have a UPF of 3 when wet.
  • Fabric wear: As clothes age, the fabrics are likely to deteriorate and this will also reduce the UPF rating.
  • How clothing fits your body.  Clothing that fits tightly and is stretched will leave holes for light to penetrate.

The Rest Of The Story

The UPF rating of the fabrics is important, but so is the amount of skin that it covers. When looking for sun blocking clothing,  remember that the more skin you cover, the better.

A long sleeve t-shirt covers more skin than a short sleeve t-shirt, especially if it has a collar or a high neckline. Long pants or leggings cover more skin than shorts, and a broad brim hat provides more protection than a baseball cap.

Whatever you are doing to spend time outside you are exposing your skin. If you’re going on walks and hikes, spending time at the pool or beach, or on a river trip.  Maybe you are spending time in the mountains, or at the amusement park, and you’re risking skin damage from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays.

Even on cloudy days, up to 80 percent of the sun’s harmful rays can penetrate your skin, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. And UV damage may lead to skin cancer.

Avoiding the sun, especially between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun’s rays are strongest is important.

If you can’t do that, the next best thing is to cover your skin with clothing. What type of clothing is best? Many outdoor retailers offer expensive ultraviolet protection factor (UPF)-rated clothing.

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, UPF garments are effective. However, any clothing with these traits will offer protection. Again, some protection is better than none:

  • Dense fabric
  • Darker Colors
  • Synthetic material
  • If a stretch fabric, less stretch
  • Dry fabric
  • Newer condition

More Common Sense Suggestions

Extra Protection for your face: Hats with a brim, 3 inches wide or more. A sun hat with a brim all the way around will protect your face as well as the back of your neck.

Your Eyes: Eyes are also highly sensitive to the sun’s rays. Sunglasses offer protection, but not all are created equal. Look for:

  • 99-100 % UV protection
    • Only sunglasses with labels of having 99-100 % UV light protection. Don’t assume you’ll get full UV protection just from darker lenses, polarized lenses, or a mirror coating. These are all designed to let in less light. You still need to look for the 99-100 % UV protection label.
  • Wraparound style: Wraparound glasses protect your eyes from harmful rays. They are shaped to keep light from getting around the frames and into your eyes.

Shade is your friend: Look for some shade when you are outside.  Remember the sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

If your shadow is shorter than you are, seek shade.

Sunscreen use: Any areas of skin not protected by clothing should be covered with sunscreen. Sunscreens are not created equal, either. Look for these feature

  • SPF 30 or higher
  • Broad spectrum (protects against UVA and UVB rays)
  • Contains zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, or both
  • Lotion rather than spray (lotion provides better coverage)
  • Water resistant

Use enough sunscreen to generously coat all skin not covered by clothing. Most adults should use at least 1 ounce to cover the whole body.

Always follow the directions and adjust the amount of sunscreen depending on body size. Reapply every two hours or after swimming, drying off with a towel, or sweating.

Sun Blocking Clothing To Protect Your Skin
Sami’s Take On Can Sunrays Penetrate Clothing?

With all the different factors that could allow the sun to penetrate your clothing, it is to your advantage to be aware when you are shopping, of what you may be using the garment for. Too often we just grab a shirt that appeals to us, without thinking about the fabric from which it is made.

While all sun blocking clothing may not be equal, by knowing what to look for we can even the field a little.

There are some secret style advantages that are unimportant to me but will be more so to you. Having a sleeve cuff that laps over to allow you to check the time without exposing your skin is great for those who may need to check often.

As I no longer even wear a watch, that seems over the top to me. However, I know that the thumb and finger holes in other cuffs would be a good thing for me and my older skin, it wouldn’t be important to my granddaughter.

Allow yourself to get familiar with the advantages offered by some brands of clothing, and when you are shopping keep the looser fit in mind to get the best protection.

Add information to your understanding of protective clothing and how it works is to your advantage. How it can keep you safer will help in the overall skin protection from the sun.

I think we have been careless long enough in this household. What can you do in your family to keep your skin safe?

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