Beyond sunscreen: Protecting yourself from the sun

Posted at 4:36 PM, Aug 09, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-09 17:36:19-04

Sun protective clothing has gained attention over the last few years — but does it really work?

"They do work, and the most important thing is protecting yourself from the sun's rays, and a broad spectrum of them — UVA and UVB rays," Dr. Shane Stephenson said.

But not all protective clothing rates the same, he said.

If you are looking to invest, check for an ultraviolet protection factor, or UPF rating, of at least 15 or 20. UPF 50 is the highest, while your basic T-shirt rates about UPF 5.

If you don't have specific sun protective clothing, don't worry: Some of the things you already have will do the trick.

Regular t-shirts are better than nothing, and of course there is always sunscreen.

However, a plain white T-shirt provides less protection than sunscreen, which typically has at least a sun protection factor of 15.

So what would be the ideal thing to do in such a case?

"Most dermatologists in those instances would say put sunscreen on everywhere, then wear your T-shirt," Stephenson said.

You can also treat the clothes you already own to make them more effective.

"Washing clothes, which actually might shrink them, is gonna tighten up that fabric and protect you a bit more from the sun's rays,” he said. “Darker clothing will protect you from the sun's rays, and there's actually a wash you can add to it as well. It's called sun guard, and there's different types of brands that kind of add an SPF factor to the clothes."

Following these tips and keeping up your sunscreen wearing habits will help reduce damage done by the sun's rays, and make your time spent outside more enjoyable.