For a Sun-Savvy Audit, let’s look at what is in your closet.
In a world where the sun shines as much as it does here in central Texas, the importance of sun protection often takes center stage.
As we move through the seasons knowing how to use the clothing hanging in the closet can keep us warm and safe from the sun.
The warmth of the sun makes warm weather sun protection come to mind. So let’s follow up with some suggestions about the better choices in your closet.
We want our wardrobes to not only showcase our style but also shield us from the harmful effects of Ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Cool weather brings its share of challenges to skin safety too.
Welcome to the “Closet Audit: Your Sun-Savvy Arsenal.” In order to help you use what you already have to stay safe in the sun, a guide may help you through the process of assessing your existing wardrobe for sun-friendly clothing.
First, let’s look at how sun-blocking clothing works.
Understanding Sun Protection Clothing
The sun, while a source of warmth and energy, emits UV rays that can be detrimental to our skin.
Clothing is our first line of defense. Our clothing plays a crucial role in controlling these UV effects.
Understanding the concept of the Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) becomes important when curating a wardrobe that not only makes a fashion statement but also protects our skin.
Now- is the time to also understand that UPF clothing only works if you wear it! Then the next most important part is any clothing is better than no clothing between you and the sun.
Allowing unlimited skin exposure to the sun is a guarantee for allowing skin cancer to develop on your skin.
Fifteen minutes is usually a safe time in the sun unless you are under 20 years old, or have super sensitive skin. Or take certain medications that make your skin sensitive to the sun.
The other extreme factor or 15 minutes in the sun? When the sun is the most severe, between 10 AM and 4 PM.
From May through September in my part of the world. These are just dangerous times. Don’t fail to protect your skin.
Another word here about what is in your closet already, the weave of the fabric is more important than the color. If your choices are limited to a normal light-colored tee-shirt or a dark-colored tee-shirt, with about the same wear on each one?
Then the darker one will keep you safer from the sun. However, it will be hotter to wear!
Your Closet, What Do We Have To Work With
Before moving into the world of fabrics and styles, let’s start with checking out what is in your closet. Now, take a moment to assess your current wardrobe, considering both old and new clothing items.
Your goal is twofold:
Being mindful of the sun’s impact on your skin.
For the sake of this assessment. we will talk about shirts (blouses, tops) and pants. (long pants, jeans, and skirts)
In sunblocking clothing, it is important to know that newer fabric is usually better at blocking the sun than a shirt that has been in your closet for years.
Newer fabric that does not show wear or color fading will be better for blocking the sun off your body.
With tee shirts, newer ones are usually thicker and will give more protection.
Favorite jeans that are worn, and have broken or weak threads will allow more sun to get to your skin than a newer pair that is still a bit stiffer to wear.
Wear these newer ones when you are in the midday sun. Save the favorites for wintertime when the sun is less intense or early mornings or evenings.
The other thing to think about, when do you actually need more protection? When are you outside in the sun between 10 AM and 4 PM?
In the wintertime, if you live in a sunny area, you will need to protect yourself from the sun during these same hours in the cooler time of the year. Your stiffer jeans and shirts will be more comfortable when it is not so hot.
How To Know Which Garments Protect Your Skin
A good place to start is by identifying fabrics with UV protection. Some protect because of how the fabric is woven, and what it is woven of.
Some fabrics need to have special dyes or finishes to make them more sun-blocking.
When it comes to sun protection, not all fabrics are created equal.
Most synthetic fabrics naturally offer better UV protection than others. Polyester is a well-known man-made fiber that is used to weave material to make clothing.
It can be blended with cotton, wool, or linen. We like this man-made fabric because it is usually cheaper to make, resists wrinkles, resists fading, and overall is less expensive to work with.
Tightly woven fabrics like new denim and polyester blends are known for their natural ability to block UV rays.
Our Long Time Favorite Cotton
Cotton was at one time the less expensive fabric, but in today’s world, it can be expensive, and require more care than our blended fabrics.
To prevent the sun damage that is shown in the image above, wear your sunglasses, sun-blocking hat, and sunscreen.
Adding polyester made the cotton fabric more desireable. I was a home sewer who loved making clothing for my family. Polyester blends were so easy to work with.
White cotton has long been a favorite for wear in the summertime. And it does a great job of reflecting the UV rays, as long as it is tightly woven. However, the refining of cotton to the pristine white we love involves bleaching.
It must be bleached to be white or to accept the beautiful colors we associate with cotton fabrics. Bleaching weakens the fibers.
Cotton is a thick thread with little pieces of cotton caught in the weaving process. As it is washed and worn the little pieces slowly wear away.
This makes the weave no longer tight and allows the sun to get to your skin through the weave holes of the fabric. So a favorite shirt that is worn will have weak places in the fabric and no longer protect your skin.
These are the wardrobe favorites to wear in the evenings or early morning. They will work well with early and late sun, just not midday.
When shopping for new additions to your wardrobe, be sure to check for UV protection labels or choose darker colors, as they absorb more UV radiation.
Let’s Talk About Covering Your Skin to Protect it From the Sun
Are you covering your skin? For too long tank tops have been a favorite of many people for summertime wear.
Yes, they are cool, but leaving so much skin to be exposed to the sun is causing skin problems. Everyday exposure will add up to damage even if the individual exposure does not.
This skin exposure that leads to tanning is often considered a desireable thing. This tan idea has had us all hooked for over 70 years. Also during these same 70 years, science is allowing us to live longer and healthier.
In the1980’s we didn’t live as long. The tan damage didn’t make that much difference, or so we thought.
Now that we have the technology to allow information to be analyzed and evaluated in a timely manner, we are finding that skin cancer is more dangerous than we realized.
Just like allowing our bodies to hold excess weight is proving to make us more susceptible to some cancers, they are finding too much sun also makes a difference.
The coverage of your clothing is equally important in your sun-ready arsenal.
Consider the length of the sleeves. Is there a collar? Does the garment fit properly? If the garment fits too tightly, the fabric will stretch and allow the sun to reach your skin.
Too loosely fitting and the garment will fall away from the neck and allow a ring of sunburn at your neck. Besides, clothes that are too loosely fitting are not comfortable to wear. Gaping shirt fronts will allow the sun to get to your upper chest, again causing sunburn.
Sunglasses and Wide Brim Hats
For far too long, we have allowed ourselves to ignore where sun protection actually starts. Your sunglasses and sun hats are where the protection should start.
These are the basics of your sun-blocking wardrobe. We have thought about sunglasses and sun hats as accessories, not the most important parts of your protection wardrobe.
So from here forward, these two items are tools, something you think about first, now something you think of last.
If you do nothing else, please make sure you wear your sunglasses and sun-blocking hats. A loosely draped scarf can block the sun from around your neck. While you may not have considered these items to be an actual part of your wardrobe for everyday sun care, you now know differently.
Recognize these items for the building tools they are. You should add the other protective wear to these 2 basics.
DIY Sun Protection Enhancement
Not satisfied with the current sun protection level of your favorite items?
Fear not! There are practical ways to increase the UV resistance of your clothing.
Consider washing your clothes with UV-protective detergents like Rit SunGuard. It is an easy process and can make a worn-out shirt protect like a UPF of 30 or more.
There are other additives and fabric sprays. Most are easy to apply, and while they may not last as long as Rit SunGuard, they will give good short-term protection.
There are lightweight capes and shawls to cover holders and arms. If you are not as well covered with long-sleeved shirts, you can add pull-on sleeves that will block the sun. Even a darker-colored sleeve from an old tee shirt that is tight enough to hold to your arm will give some protection.
There are pull-on sleeves, rash guards, gators, face masks, and all sorts of items to protect your skin from the sun. They can be added to what you have to round out your sun protection.
As the seasons change, so should your sun protection strategies. Opt for lighter fabrics during the scorching summer months. This is part of the attraction of UPF garments. Lighter-weight fabrics, if specially treated will protect your skin from the sun.
These lighter-weight fabrics are easier to wear when the temperatures get so high. Adding a shirt or two, and wearing the pants you already have can make you safe from the sun.
UPF clothing can often be more expensive than a regular shirt. As you learn about weave and fabric blends, you can do a great job of skin protection.
Layers protect well in spring and fall, with heavier items for winter.
Recognizing the need for year-round sun protection is key to maintaining healthy and radiant skin.
Safe Skin For Your Lifestyle
Your wardrobe should adapt to different aspects of your life.
Consider the practicality of sun protection in various settings. Do you need sun protection at work?
Do you need protective clothing for workout clothing and casual wear?
Are you routinely exposed to many hours of sun in your daily life? Is sun exposure limited to after work? Vacations? Weekends?
I need a long-sleeved shirt to protect me from the sun one time a year I attend a youth league football game that is held at 1:30 in the afternoon in October.
In our part of the world, it will be sunny, and warmer. So there should be a loose fit to allow air to circulate under the shirt to dry the sweat that will be coming on.
The rest of the time, I stay out of the direct sun, and choose carefully the time I am out in the sun. Being able to choose to stay out of the more dangerous times of the day, I will be able to protect my skin with items I already have in my closet.
Since I have made myself aware of the dangers of too much sun, and make better decisions, keeping my skin safe is sure easier.
Sami’s Take on “Sun-Savvy Audit”
In conclusion, the “Closet Audit: Your Sun-Savvy Arsenal” is not just about clothing. It is your life’s journey towards healthier and more conscious living.
By understanding the many ways that sun protection clothing is already in your closet, just waiting to protect you.
Identifying fabrics with UV resistance, so that you know which items to reach for when you need to protect your skin. You don’t have to wonder which shirts will be better to prevent skin damage.
Making sustainable choices and using additives to add protection to what you already have will allow you to stay true to your style while being smart about skin protection
As you learn more about how to use clothing for skin protection from the sun, don’t think you can lose the sunscreen. You will need sunscreen where the clothing is not covering your skin.
Your face, tops of your hands. When driving, and wearing short sleeves, you will need sunscreen on your arms as well as your face, and the tops of your hands.
A sun-savvy wardrobe will allow you to keep yourself safe. All that you have to do is wear this sun-safe clothing. Even a light tan is “light skin damage.” Get over it, and cover your skin.
Thank you for reading,