Part Four of Our Sun & Skin Series
It’s well known that the best way to protect yourself from the sun is to cover up. But not all clothing is created equal when it comes to sun protection. If you’re going to spend the day in the sun, consider what you are wearing and follow these guidelines.
Obviously, more coverage is better. But did you know that color and fabric are also factors in the level of sun protection provided by clothing? A tighter weave will allow less UV through, effectively increasing the UV protection factor. Conversely, open weave fabrics provide much less protection.
Fabric fiber makes a difference. Synthetic fibers like polyester, Lycra, nylon and acrylic often contain elastic threads that pull the fibers tightly together, providing improved protection. Additionally, shiny semi-synthetic fabrics like rayon reflect more UV than matte fabrics like linen.
Color also can be a factor. Many fabric dyes absorb UV, offering extra protection. Dark colors tend to absorb more UV than light colors, and many bright colors, like red, also absorb UV. Vivid colors provide more protection than pale colors.
UV-filtering sunglasses and a hat will protect your face and eyes. Select a hat with a wide brim (at least 3”) to help shade your neck, face and ears.
Some clothing now comes labeled with a UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) rating. This rating indicates how much of the sun’s UV radiation reaches the skin (a factor of 50 means 1/50 reaches your skin). UPF ratings for clothing have become standardized from country to country, and UPF protective clothing is often constructed of materials that provide superior comfort and coolness.
While part of your sun defense regimen may include protective clothing, make sure to use sunscreen on exposed areas and apply regularly. Sun exposure is the number one cause of skin aging, and remember: your best defense is a good offense.
About Dr. Ali
Dr. M. Azhar Ali is a top Michigan Plastic Surgeon with extensive experience and training. Dr. Ali offers: