This year an estimated 5.4 million cases of skin cancer will be diagnosed. This is more than all new cases of lung, breast, colon and prostate cancer combined. Exposure to Ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun, or tanning beds, is the main risk factor for skin cancer. The scientific evidence is so clear that the World Health Organization (WHO) recently classified UV radiation as “carcinogenic to humans”, similar to tobacco. In order to minimize your risk for skin cancer, discoloration and premature aging, simple steps should be taken to protect one’s skin. These safe sun habits include sun-protective clothing, seeking shade, and using sunscreen.
Sun-protective clothing is the best form of defense from harmful UV rays. It provides continuous protection throughout the day, does not wash off or require reapplication, and helps minimize exposure to chemicals found in some sunscreens. Sun- protective fabrics are rated using the Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF). It indicates what fraction of the sun’s UV rays can penetrate the fabric. For example, a shirt with a UPF of 50 allows just 1/50th of the sun’s UV radiation to reach the skin. As such, 98% of the sun’s harmful radiation is blocked by the fabric. A typical cotton T-shirt has a UPF of 5 and only blocks 20% of the UV radiation. On the contrary, denim has a very high UPF, but lacks breathability and comfort in hot climates. To date, the challenge has been creating a high UPF fabric that is breathable, soft and quick drying. Our patented Luminology Technology® fabric was created to overcome these hurdles. It offers UPF of 50+, high performance qualities (quick drying and antimicrobial) and a soft silky feel comparable to silk. This unique fabric allows sun-protective clothing to be fashionable, and practical.
Hats and sunglasses are an important aspect of safe sun habits. To protect your face, neck and ears, wear a wide brim hat. A tightly woven fabric works best to protect your skin from UV rays. Avoid straw hats with holes. To protect your eyes from UV rays and reduce the risk of cataracts, you should wear UV-rated sunglasses. They also protect the tender skin around your eyes from sun exposure. Sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays offer the best protection.
It is a smart idea to seek shade when possible. This can be as easy as sitting under an umbrella on the beach or under a tree. Keep in mind that UV rays are scattered and reflected, so sun protective clothing and sunscreen should still be used. Also minimize your direct sun exposure between 11am-3 pm, when you are most exposed to UV rays.
For exposed areas that are not covered by sun-protective clothing, sunscreen should be used on a regular basis. The right sunscreen is one that is labeled “broad spectrum”, which protects against both UVA and UVB. Mineral sunscreens such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide are preferred as they minimize exposure to chemicals, and are better tolerated by sensitive skin. Skin allergies or sensitivities should always be considered when choosing a product. Always check the product for expiration date. Use a broad spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher before you go outside, even on a cloudy or cool day. Sunscreen wear off. If you are out in the sun for more than 2 hours, you should reapply more. You will also need to apply more sunscreen after swimming or sweating.