As the remnants of this year’s long cold winter finally melt away, American’s are heading outdoors in droves to soak up some sunshine. From golf enthusiasts looking forward to teeing up on the green to mothers toting their children to the parks and beaches, we all want the same thing, to enjoy the sun while at the same time, protecting our skin. You may be in the habit of slathering on high SPF creams, and while this does offer considerable protection, what about those areas underneath your clothing? This summer, experience how you can save your skin with UV Protection clothing. To start, how important is it actually to protect your skin from the sun’s rays?
Save Your Skin, From What?
UV rays or Ultraviolet radiation is a small portion of the sun’s rays that can cause damage to the DNA of skin cells. Dysfunction of the DNA in the skin cells lead to uncontrolled growth and the development of skin cancers. In addition to the risk of developing skin cancer, exposure to UV rays also leads to aging and wrinkling of the skin over time.
Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States, affecting 1 in 5 persons in their lifetime, according to the American Academy of Dermatology Association. Sun Protection tips that they recommend are to avoid prolonged exposure to the sun, using an SPF of 30 or higher and the use of sun protection clothing.
What is UV Protection Clothing?
In reality, all clothing fibers naturally block UV rays to some extent. The amount of protection that a fabric offers depends on the material, the weave of the fibers and the color of the fabric. UV rays are able to absorb through a fabric and reach your skin through the tiny openings in the weave of the fabric. Therefore a tighter weave such as denim offers more protection than a loose knit linen garment. Lighter colors also absorb more UV rays than darker colors which reflect light. Although you may be protected from the sun, who would think about playing sports outdoors covered neck down in denim in the hot summer heat. Thankfully because of specially manufactured clothing and clothing with UPF ratings, you don’t have to.
UPF stands for Ultraviolet Protection Factor and for a fabric to receive a UPF rating, it must be tested in a laboratory. Consumers therefore can be more confident about how protected they are versus taking chances by wearing just any average garment. According to Skin Cancer Foundation, a UPF rating of 50 means that only 1/50th of the sun’s radiation can reach your skin. An average cotton t-shirt only offers 1/5th UPF, meaning a fifth of the radiation is being absorbed through and reaching your skin.
Many athletic and outdoor clothing brands are offering garments and hats/visors with a UPF rating. Protecting the top of your head, face and ears are essential as these are some of the areas hardest hit by the sun’s damaging rays. Just as a higher SPF rating means greater protection, so it is with the higher UPF rating. ARPANSA, Australia’s Radiation Protection Agency classifies the following UPF ratings as follows:
UPF 15 – Minimum
UPF 30- Good
UPF 50 – Excellent
Omega Sports, North Carolina’s Neighborhood Sport Store is proud to have a number of Skin Protective apparel items that have UPF ratings of 50, blocking 98% of the sun’s UV rays. Check out our selection of UPF rated long and short sleeve shirts and skorts with wicking technology and/or ventilation to keep you cool and protected in the hottest summer temperatures.