UPF Clothing or Sunscreen? Which is best?
As we think about spending time in the tropics our thought also turn to how to protect ourselves from the bright sun and staying cool at the same time. And while there are many ways to stay cool, one of the best and most effective ways to protect your skin is to wear sunscreen. Sunscreen is a must-have for anyone who spends time outside in the sun.
But what if you aren't able to wear sunscreen? Or you just don't like the feel of it on your skin? Or what if you’re concerned about the impact you’re having on the environment?
Luckily, there's an alternative: UPF clothing and hats. UPF stands for ultraviolet protection factor and refers to a fabric or materials ability to block UV radiation from reaching your skin. So when you wear an item with a UPF rating of 30+, it blocks about 94% of UVB rays which cause sunburns and about 98% of UVA rays which can age you prematurely.
The benefits of wearing UPF clothing and hats in addition to SPF sunscreen are numerous:
- Protects your skin from harmful UV rays: UPF clothing is the best way to protect your skin from the sun. It blocks out 95% of UV rays and protects you against skin cancer and premature wrinkling. SPF sunscreen is also great for protecting your skin from the sun's harmful rays, but it isn't as effective as UPF clothing. For example, if you wear a T-shirt with an SPF of 15 and walk into direct sunlight for 10 minutes, you'll receive just adequate protection. However, if you wear a shirt with a UPF rating of 50+, that same amount of time in direct sunlight would reduce your risk of developing skin cancer by up to 97%.
- Increases your comfort level during the summer months: It's a fact that sun exposure is not just bad for your skin but can also damage your mood. Sunburn and other signs of overexposure can be unpleasant and make you miserable, but wearing a UPF-rated shirt or hat is a simple way to protect yourself from the sun's harmful rays.
- Reduces the risk of skin cancer and premature skin aging: No matter how much sunscreen you wear, it won't prevent you from developing skin cancer later in life if you weren't protected when you were younger. The only way to protect yourself against this growing threat is by wearing high-quality clothing that blocks UV rays before they reach the surface of your skin.
- Helps keep you cool on hot summer days: When it comes to staying cool while working in the heat, there are few things better than wearing lightweight long-sleeved shirts and pants made from UPF materials. These garments wick moisture away from your skin so that it doesn't stay trapped under layers of fabric and cause uncomfortable overheating.
- Protects the environment. Studies have shown that the main ingredient in many popular sunscreens, oxybenzone, is highly damaging to the fragile coral reef ecosystem and is contributing to coral bleaching throughout the tropics. We’ll discuss this more in an upcoming blog post.
You might think that wearing sunscreen is enough to prevent skin cancer. But there's something else you can do to help keep your skin looking youthful and healthy: wear clothing with a sun protection factor (SPF) rating of 15 or more.
In addition to providing SPF protection against UV rays, clothing with an increased UPF rating can also help protect your skin from other types of harmful ultraviolet radiation (UVA).
The CDC recommends that adults wear clothing that provides a minimum of SPF 30 any time you plan prolonged exposure in the outdoors. It’s the best thing you can do for your skin.