Summertime fashions have certainly changed over the past century, from the high-collars and floor-sweeping skirts of the Gibson Girl age, to the knee-grazing, shoulder-baring of the Flapper era, to Christian Dior's post-war, softened "New Look," to the fluid, Disco-inspired fads of the 1970s and so on. But never has the apparel industry created anything quite so fashionable AND functional as today's sun-blocking textile technologies.
Clothing is the single most effective form of protection from the sun's damaging ultraviolet rays. Perhaps driven by the savviness of today's health-conscious consumers, clothing manufacturers increasingly are focusing on these new textile technologies that not only offer broad-spectrum sun protection but also reflect the sun's infrared rays, wick sweat away from the skin and cool the body.
Summertime excursions to the beach, swimming pool, golf course, park or favorite fishing spot invariably place you and your family in the sun for hours at the time - especially during the school break and hot-weather holidays like Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day. Plus, splashing in the water or feeling the wind created by a speeding boat can create a deceptively cool sensation on your skin. While the wind and water can minimize the feel of the sun's heat, keep in mind that those damaging UV rays are always there, posing a constant risk to your family's health.
To better protect yourself and your family, choose your new summertime wardrobe by shopping these top-quality, trusted brands, each of which has earned the Skin Cancer Foundation's Seal of Recommendation for sun protective clothing and hats:
- Boy Scouts of America
- Columbia Sportswear
- J. Crew
- Land's End
- O'Neill Wetsuits
- Specialized Bicycles
- Wallaroo Hats Company
- Whitworth Hats
While shopping, be sure to look for items labeled with UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) ratings, which communicate just how well a particular garment filters out the sun's UV rays - the higher the UPF, the better the protection. For example, a light cotton T-shirt with a UPF of five will allow one fifth of the sun's UV rays to penetrate the fabric and reach your skin, while a long-sleeved denim shirt with a UPF of 1,700 offers near full protection. The brands we've listed meet strict requirements that include a UPF of 30 or higher and acceptable test results according the standards of the American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists method or AS/NZS Standard.
If a new summer wardrobe isn't in your budget, chances are a few items already in your closet will offer protection, too. Polyester, nylon, wool, silk and denim all are effective fabric choices, particularly those made by San Soleil and Sun Soaked. Skip loosely woven, bleached cottons and crepe, as these fabrics offer little or no protection from the sun.
Don't let poor fashion choices place you at risk for accelerated aging and potential development of skin cancer by exposing your skin to the sun. After all, healthy, smooth, vibrant skin is a most alluring fashion statement of its own. Choose sun-smart styles and don a high SPF broad spectrum sunblock every time you venture outside. Ideally, choose a sunblock that's free of chemical sun filters. A top choice is Steppie MD Infinity UV Defense Sunscreen SPF 50+, available in tube and spray versions - and even as a BB cream! Also, be sure to schedule regular skin-cancer screenings at one of Associates in Dermatology's 15 Central Florida locations.
Remember that covering up is the best line of defense for you and your loved ones.
For further details on SUN SAFE clothing check out this article in a recent volume of the Skin Cancer Foundation Journal.