Let’s think about why clothing is your skin’s best friend in the fall and winter. I know I have been very careless about protecting my skin from the sun. I kind of forget during the cooler months of the year.
Question -Why does your skin need a best friend in the fall and winter?
Answer – We tend to get careless as the heat of summer fades each year. We are tired of dealing with the direct sun.
This is when we get careless about skin protection. It is cooler outdoors. Surely it is time to relax the sun prevention.
The reason we should be careful? Skin cancer doesn’t discriminate any more in the winter than it does in the summer. Fall sessions of too much sun on your skin are just as dangerous as full-on summertime sunburns.
The thing is we tend to forget how long we have been in the sun in the fall and winter. It is cooler and more comfortable, and we enjoy the feeling of the sun on our bare skin. And, yes a little sun on your bare skin is healthy, but just a few minutes.
As we are becoming more aware of how dangerous the sun can be, we have to take the responsibility for caution. Skin cancer most often is the result of many exposures. Not just one. Can you be mindful of how long you have been out in the sun?
We have no choice. You can either be aware of time in the sun or have skin cancer. When you are having fun in the sun, time can get away from you, and soon you have been out for a couple of hours.
Is Summer Sun More Dangerous Than Winter Sun?
Ultraviolet rays are always present. It does not matter if it is warm weather or the icy cold of winter. The danger lies in the fact that in the fall and winter we tend to be out in the direct sun more.
The mornings are cooler earlier, so we wait for the warmer time, more in the late morning. Lunch out on the patio. An hour in the direct sun is dangerous. We just spend more time in the warmer time of the day outside. This is also when the sun’s rays are more directly overhead.
This places us right where the direct rays can play havoc on our skin unless we protect ourselves. Lightweight, long sleeve, loose-fitting shirts are so easy to slip on. You already have your sunglasses and sun hat on, don’t you?
If you slip on a sun blocking shirt, a quick application of sunscreen to your face and the backs of your hands and you are safer from sun damage.
It will be easier to reapply sunscreen to your face and hands in a while, but for a couple of hours, you have protection. Your sun hat, sunglasses, and shirt will last all day.
In our part of Central Texas, this is the time of year when lightweight shirts with long sleeves are great to protect your skin. They have been easier to get used to wearing. The sun hat is proving a bit harder to remember. Old habits die slowly!
Yes, Skin Cancer Will Happen In The Fall And Winter
Skin cancer is serious and so unnecessary. This is one cancer we can prevent.
FYI Skin Cancer is the most common cancer globally.
Here in the United States, 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer by the time they reach 70. (These are statistics from the Skin Cancer Foundation.)
With too much sun being the main cause of skin damage, it is important to take control of your skin’s exposure to the sun.
As kids, we are careless and forget to use sunscreen and get sunburned.
As adults, we have all the accumulated damage. Getting more is not practical for our ongoing health. Research is pointing to many serious health conditions that cause our skin to be unable to do its job of protecting us as it should.
All the immune conditions that are pointing fingers at too much sun damaging our skin as the primary cause. Your body can’t always win in a battle between careless sun exposure and a developing condition from problems in our systems. If there is a weakness, there is where the damage shows up.
Protecting our skin from sun damage is where we can help ourselves to a healthier body.
I know- you thought all that sun was good for you!
The sun’s UV rays are primarily responsible for skin damage. Those same UV rays play a major role in the development of skin cancer.
Yes, UV rays are strongest in the summer.
Radiation from the sun can still be damaging in the colder months. This is especially true even if you can’t see its rays. Skin protection does not stop just because we are winding summer down.
Let’s Consider Major Lifestyle Practices That Help Skin Cancer Grow Faster
Yes, there are a couple of major lifestyle contributors that are helping your skin cancer risk move higher on the scale. Using tanning beds and Smoking are major contributors to conditions that allow skin cancer to develop.
The early-stage skin cancers are the ones most often associated with smoking. This is thought to be partly because smokers are risk-takers. They began smoking, knowing the risks.
Smokers tend to have more health issues than non-smokers. Smoking slows healing and can cause circulatory problems early in life.
Smoking is a risk you can choose to stop.
Stay out of tanning beds, and stop smoking. So, yes here is something you can do to improve your chances of avoiding skin cancer, along with protecting your skin from the sun.
Now Let’s Get Back To How Clothing Can Keep Your Skin Safe From The Sun During The Fall And Winter
Lightweight clothing that is loose-fitting will give you a boost in skin protection from the sun.
This is when the daily attention to protecting your skin starts. Do you think that what you have in your closet is not comfortable, it will be time to start looking at specialty-treated UPF items?
If you are sticking with your stuff from your closet, remember that tight-fitting clothing stretches easily, reducing your skin protection. Should you prefer tight clothing that fits snugly, you will need to get busy building a UPF wardrobe.
A lightweight shirt that covers more of your skin can provide even better protection from the sun.
For your serious outdoor adventures that have you hiking or riding a bike, consider how long and how often you will be out and exposing your skin.
Repeated exposure is what we are talking about. Activities that will have you outside longer periods of the day, and more often, are the ones we tend to get careless about.
Choose good protective headwear. A hat with a brim or cap with a wider and longer bill to protect your face. Make sure to grab a long-sleeved shirt, and long pants wherever possible.
Whether they come from your closet or from a UPF clothing line, here are some suggestions to protect your skin.
Sun Blocking Fabric For Fall And Winter
What is a sun blocking fabric?
When choosing your clothing, it’s important to go for the right fabric. Tightly woven fabrics offer much more shielding from harmful UV rays than loosely woven, light, sheer, or thin materials.
For example, denim is made from twill threads, which are pulled extremely tight; These fabrics provide decent sun protection.
Synthetic fabric clothing like lycra, acrylic, nylon, or polyester is a better choice than bleached cotton.
With shiny fabric like rayon and polyester and satiny silks, you will find the sun’s rays and radiation will be reflected. This makes garments from these materials better sun blockers.
However, better sun blockers and comfortable to wear in the sun may not mean the same thing. If you are reflecting the sun is a shiny shirt that is making you sweat because air can’t get to your skin to cool and dry the sweat, you are going to be hot.
Linen performs well in the sun, keeping the sun away, and allowing air to cool, but may not hold up for something to wear several times a week during the summer.
This is where the UPF clothing manufacturers have upped the game. A well-chosen UPF shirt will be cool to wear and protect your skin.
One of the better protection items from your closet will be a denim shirt or a newer darker colored tee shirt.
Dr. Elizabeth K. Hale is Senior Vice President of The Skin Cancer Foundation and a practicing dermatologist in New York. She’s also a serious runner with eight full marathons and about 50 half-marathons under her belt.
She wears year-round sun-protective clothing, and always wears both sunscreen and long-sleeve sun-protective clothing. This means even in warm weather.
“Unprotected sun exposure is the leading cause of skin cancer and skin aging,” she says. Using high SPF sunscreen while running is important, but “clothing is really the best line of defense.”
The UPF Factor Is Important In The Fall and Winter
The higher the number is the better your protection will be. So let’s review what UPF and SPF and the numbers actually tell you.
- UPF numbers: How much radiation can pass through the fabric and reach your skin. UPF 50 = 98% blocking with UPF 35 = 96.7% So clothing is s good way to go for good sun protection.
- SPF numbers: explains how long it takes your skin to burn when exposed to the sun
This quick read from The Skin Cancer Foundation gathered items up into bundles of what they are and what I can expect from them. This explained the difference in what items should do for my skin protection. There are many products adding SPF protection.
With sun protection a year-round effort nowadays, I needed to understand a bit more about the products that could help me stay protected from sunburn.
Sun Blocking Garments In Your Closet
Now back to finding suitable garments to protect your skin in your closet, you know the fabric needs to be tightly woven.
Fit is also important. Loose-fitting clothing is more comfortable when it is hot. It also provides better protection from the sun because it’s not stretched on your skin. The fabric isn’t pulling open at the weave points, and won’t allow the sun to shine on your bare skin.
Tee shirts that are newer and a darker color, blue, black, brown, green, even red and purple, and made of cotton/poly blend will protect better than an all-cotton one. These shirts aren’t as good as your tight woven cloth of cotton and poly, but will surely be better ultra-thin see-through.
Just think about what you have, its comfort level, and how it fits. If you think it is a winner, hold it up to a light source or between you and the sun. Can you see through? If not, you should be somewhat protected in the garment.
A garment that has been washed and worn a lot may have lost some of the built-in protection it had as a new item. Worn clothing can sometimes allow your skin to soak up too much sun. Less worn is better.
Do You Need To Wear Sunscreen Under Sun Blocking Clothing
So should you wear sunscreen underneath?
There is no need.
A long sleeve sun shirt with a UPF 50 rating means you are receiving the equivalent protection of sunscreen with an SPF 50 rating.
Now, for areas not covered by clothing, YES you should definitely apply sunscreen. Areas like your face, even when wearing your sun hat and sunglasses, and hands. Your neck if you aren’t wearing your shirt buttoned up.
Fall And Winter Risks
Covering up your skin with clothing is the number one way to protect yourself from harmful ultraviolet rays. Fall and winter bring their own risks and we can’t let down our guard. Paying attention and becoming aware will help you as you are learning to protect your skin from the sun.
Ultraviolet (UV) rays are present year-round. though. Yes, they are stronger, these UVB rays are stronger, and during the time of year, it is warmer.
UVA rays make up about 95% of the rays that reach the earth at any time of the year. Your skin will age more in the fall and winter. In my part of the world, we also get strong UVB longer, and sunburn is common.
So getting sunburned and getting wrinkled and living with old-looking skin happens with too much sun. Be on your guard, summer, and winter.
Sami’s Take On Why Clothing Is Your Skin’s Best Friend For Fall And Winter
Giving up the idea that you can be careless with your skin protection from the sun just because the weather is no longer as hot as it was is not easy.
However now that you know that it is not safe to ignore skin protection from the sun, regardless of the season, what will you do?
Will you continue to allow the sun on your skin without sun blocking clothing or sunscreen? There are layers of skin protection that we can use to keep our skin younger looking, and reduce our risk of skin cancer.
Will you be considering some changes to your lifestyle for fall and winter that will allow you to stay safer and protected from the sun?
Once you have damaged your skin with too much sun, you can’t undo it. As we have no guaranteed magic number of sunburns before we develop skin cancer, each time we get a sunburn, we are just one step closer.
I have sunburned at least 30 times in my lifetime. Do you think for one minute I will risk another? Not in my life. I have had many more than I should have.
I have had at least 3 separate cases of skin cancer. Only 2 involved actual Mohs surgery. However, I know that I have used my free time of being careless. What is your risk? High? Low? How many sunburns have you had in your lifetime?
If you have any questions, or hints for those of us who are trying to avoid skin cancer please leave them in the comment section. Have you started too late to prevent the early aging of your skin as I have? Have you become more aware of avoiding too much sun?
Let’s have a conversation,