How to Choose Clothing to Protect Your Skin From the Sun
Here's what you need to know to protect yourself from excessive UV radiation exposure while enjoying your favourite sports and activities.
While every athlete enjoys catching some rays on a sunny day, a smart athlete is also concerned about harmful UV light.That's because exposure to UV radiation produced by the sun damages the DNA in your skin cells, which can cause premature ageing and skin cancer.If you want to look and feel your best far into the future while still enjoying outdoor activities, the best way you can protect yourself is with the proper clothing.
The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends protective clothing from the sun and gives sun-protective products a seal of recommendation.Here's what you need to know to choose the right attire for your next adventure under the sky.
What Is UPF?
Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) shows how much UVA and UVB radiation is blocked by a particular fabric.In order to receive a seal of recommendation from the Skin Cancer Foundation, an apparel item must be at least UPF 30, which means it allows 1/30th of the radiation from the sun to reach your skin.UPF 50+ fabrics are rated as providing excellent sun protection.
That's different from Sun Protection Factor (SPF), which indicates how much solar energy is required to burn skin with a topical product versus without.
How to Choose Sun-Protective Clothing
1.Wear Bright or Dark ColoursNot all clothing provides sufficient protection from UV radiation.For example, a white cotton T-shirt that gets wet has a UPF of only 3.Bright and dark colours absorb more UV rays so they don't harm your skin.
2.Choose Densely Woven Fabrics
Dense materials like canvas, wool or synthetic fabrics such as polyester make good UV-blocking material.Unbleached cotton is also a natural UV absorber, and some clothes are treated with chemicals or special dyes to maximise their protective capabilities.
3.Opt for a Loose Fit
Tight clothing can allow more UV light through as the fabric stretches.Looser fits will let a lot less light pass through to your skin.
When in doubt, cover more exposed skin with a long-sleeve top and trousers to avoid prolonged exposure to the sun.
5.Go With Performance Apparel
Choose garments designed for your activity that will last longer.Fabric that gets stretched out or absorbs sweat easily will lose UV protection.Opt for high-performance fabrics like Nike Dri-FIT and make sure you take proper care of your workout clothes.
Protective Clothing Checklist
- A hat: Look for a hat with a brim at least 3 inches wide to fully keep the sun off your face, ears, upper back and neck.Opt for a tightly woven hat rather than a straw hat to keep more harmful rays away.
- Sunglasses: Find a pair of sunglasses that is labelled UV 400, which will provide nearly complete protection from UV rays.
- A top: If you're going to be working out in hot weather, opt for a synthetic, dark-coloured T-shirt that protects you from UV radiation.A long-sleeve top will provide more complete protection.
- Shorts, leggings or trousers: Long trousers will provide the most protection, but if you want to stay cool, opt for a dark-coloured synthetic pair designed to block UV radiation.
- Socks and shoes: Sandals will leave your feet and ankles unnecessarily exposed, and they also don't provide enough protection or support for most outdoor activities.Grab a pair of moisture-wicking ankle socks and a stylish pair of running or training shoes that fit and are comfortable.
- Bathing suits: If you're planning to take a dip, you may want to purchase a UPF-rated bathing suit.