I absolutely love spending time outside. I love breathing in the fresh, crisp air and in the Pacific Northwest we are blessed with majestic evergreen trees all around. It really is pretty magical. There’s also research to suggest that spending time outside boosts mood and lowers blood pressure, so bonus! But wait, I need to do something very important before I get too excited and rush out the door.
I need to sport some form of sun protection before exposing myself to that burning beacon in the sky (even if she is hidden behind the clouds we see so much of around here). Unfortunately, I am a perpetually lazy person. I just want to get outside and start feeling some good vibes. “I don’t want to apply sunscreen all over,” I say in my whiniest voice. I know I should, but it just takes so much time (in the grand scheme of things it doesn’t really but like I said, I am lazy). So, how do I protect myself from UV exposure with the least amount of effort? The answer, my friends, is clothing.
Clothing is our first line of defense against the sun’s harmful rays. Aah, but not all clothing is created equal. Most clothing naturally absorbs some UV radiation but a select few come out ahead of the pack. Clothes are made from fabrics and fabrics are made of tiny fibers woven or knitted together. Look for fabrics with a tight knit or weave, like twill. Stay away from bleached cottons and shiny or lustrous semi-synthetic fabrics like rayon. Wear those pretty pieces at night when the sun is sleeping.
Loose-knit fabrics have more holes which exposes more skin. The looser the knit, the more UV can pass directly through the holes to reach the skin. The tighter the knit, the smaller the holes and the less UV can get through.
Synthetic fibers such as polyester, lycra, nylon, and acrylic are more protective than bleached cottons. Shiny, semi-synthetic fabrics like rayon reflect more UV than matte ones, such as linen, which tend to absorb rather than reflect UV. Finally, consider the fabric’s weight and density — light, sheer silk gauze will provide far less UV protection than heavy cotton denim.
It’s important to apply sunscreen to exposed skin to protect it from UV damage but it’s so easy to forget to do it. To make your life easier, wear clothing that acts as sun protection. Look for fabrics with a tighter weave to allow less UV light to reach your skin. Also look for clothing with UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor). UPF is the rating given to clothing for its broad-spectrum protection against UVA and UVB rays. The best part about using clothing as sun protection is that clothes don’t rinse off, they’re not applied incorrectly, and they don’t need to be reapplied. They’re pretty much fool-proof. The Skin Cancer Foundation has some great information about UPF and clothing as well as a list of clothing brands that they endorse.
I buy a lot of my UPF clothing from Coolibar. The only thing they do is make UPF clothing, hats, swimwear, and accessories for men, women, children, and babies. They have some fun, cute, and comfortable clothes.