Will your t-shirt protect your skin from sunburn? What determines which one is best?
How do you know which t-shirt will do the best job of protecting your skin?
Like all shirts, it depends on how tight the weave of the fabric is, what yarns are in the shirt, the color, and how worn it is.
But first, let’s think about the harsh reality of the sun’s ultraviolet rays.
Should I Depend On Clothing To Protect My Skin From The Sun?
There is a lot of stir about the clothing that can protect your skin from the sun. Fabric with a UPF rating, deeper colors, and denser weaves are topics we see everywhere now. And they are important to protect your skin.
However, should you expect a garment to protect you for hours and hours in the direct sun? For day after day? If you have to work out in the sun during the more direct ray time of day, it is extremely important to cover with UPF 50 clothing. You will also need other protection layers to help keep from sun damage.
However, there are several other things to add to your gear to protect your skin from sunburn. We will talk about that in another post, this one is for those of us who are wanting protection for outside activities that are for fun. And often last longer than expected.
Let’s explore the sun protection possibilities that you already have. What you can do to keep your skin safe if you don’t have a closet full of UPF-rated clothing.
We can know how much ability to protect your skin from the sun is according to the UPF rating given. So in that respect the higher the better. The highest is 50. You may see 50+, but that only means it should keep out all but 2% of the UV rays. 100% minus 98% equals 2%. Is 2% percent dangerous? Well eventually, maybe, but it would take a while.
2% of the available UV rays on your skin is a very small amount. Most of us would be happy with a 98% blocking of the sun.
What UPF Is My Old Favorite White T-shirt?
If you love white t-shirts you probably get a new one fairly often. If it isn’t washed to the point it is thin and worn, you can only expect a UPF of about 5.
This is not sound like very much protection, compared to the UPF of 50. However, it is better than nothing. Any layer between you and the sun is better than no layer on your skin.
Another way to look at this is a UPF of 5 allows 20% of the UV rays to come through. Or that you are blocking 80% of the sun! Yes, you are getting some protection for your skin. When thinking about living a life, and figuring out how your skin will do with only 20% of sun exposure are you thinking of sunburn?
Will it keep you from sunburn? For a while, it should. All day-long protection? There might be some sunburn after a day in the sun.
But again, should you expect anything to keep you safe in the sun all day? Is it really necessary to be out in the direct sun all day long? This all-day-long stuff makes me think of the people who are flag people in road construction or roofers.
However, in my daily life, I have few occasions to consider all day in the sun, and the option to select only portions of the day to be out in the direct sun. What about you? Are you in the sun for 12 to 14 hours a day?
So, my teeshirt might be enough for an hour or two to protect my skin. I would of course need my sunglasses and sun hat to help. A layer of sunscreen on my face and neck to help. Sun protection is not a tool situation. You will need a toolbox with tools and the knowledge of how to use them.
A Color T-shirt Will Keep You Safe From The Sun Longer Than A White One.
So one quick thing you can change is to wear a colored t-shirt. Navy blues protect best, according to research done in Spain a few years ago. But any deep-toned color is good to protect your skin. Pale colors like white will give less protection.
Using a deeper color is better for skin protection. You can make better choices for yourself and your family.
You should also choose a shirt that has a collar, and long sleeves and fits your body loosely. This will allow your body to be cooler while wearing a deeper color tone.
Medications May Cause Extra Sun Sensitivity
Something you may forget is how the medication affects your skin and its sensitivity to the sun. This means you will be affected by the sun on your skin quicker, making past times that you were safely in the sun cause sunburn this time.
Even my rub-on arthritis cream has medications that cause me to be more sensitive and sunburn quicker. Most over-the-counter pain reliever also falls in this category as well. Your allergy meds. Check labels and directions for the ones you take.
For me, the medical reasons for staying out of the sun are enough to not risk overexposure. This reason alone explains why my skin would sunburn so quickly on family outings to water ski. I would be so sore afterward from using muscles not normally used, and a fall or two included. Tylenol was my go-to.
These occasions often slip through the cracks, and you forget the events that combined to make you at higher risk for sunburn. Repeated sunburn is usually the route to skin cancer. Don’t let this be your fate. Protect your skin. Simply wearing clothing to cover your skin when in the sun.
Sami’s Take On Will Your T-shirt Protect Your Skin?
If you are caught with only an old favorite white t-shirt, wear it to protect your skin. It is better than nothing. Skin Cancer.org doesn’t give you much credit for it, as anything less than SPF 15 is not considered a worthy rating.
However, if a brand-new t-shirt can keep 80% of the sun off your skin, that helps. Learning how you can help yourself is important for skin care.
Your skin requires daily protection, and sometimes several times a day. Figuring out how to have a little protection here and a little there will add up to safer skin. Does your sun blocking tool chest have a sun hat and sunglasses? Sunscreen? Umbrella?
Did you know that staying hydrated helps as well? Taking breaks in the shade to let your skin cool down, and have a few minutes without sun. There are many things you can do to help your skin stay safe from sun damage.
Where are you on your skin protection journey? Following some of these suggestions, even after you have some sun blocking clothing will help lower your risk of skin cancer.