Why is sun protection important?
Everyone knows by now that sun exposure may cause wrinkles, spots, and skin cancer. It may even cause melanoma, one of the deadliest forms of skin cancer.
Children and Babies and Sun Protection
Children and babies, in particular, should be protected from the sun. Research shows that over exposure to the sun in the formative years leads to a high risk of skin cancer in adulthood.
Young babies should not have sunscreen applied to their skin as it is suggested that their bodies may not be able to tolerate the chemicals in sunscreens. Alternatively they should wear protective clothing and hats and be kept in the shade.
Interesting facts about the bad effects of sun exposure:
– Around 70 - 80% of a person's life time exposure to the sun is by the age of 18
– 90% of all skin cancers are due to lack of sun protection
– It has been suggested that there is an increased risk of melanoma (the most deadly form of skin cancer) in
people who have suffered several severe sun burns especially in childhood.
– Approximately 80 - 85% of UV rays pass through clouds
– Sun burns and sun tans accumulate and ultimately result in premature wrinkles.
– Sun damage cannot be undone
Isn't sunscreen alone, enough?
No. Clothing is recommended because it can reduce exposure to a broad spectrum of UVA and UVB rays. While sunscreen remains an important part of a balanced sun protection plan, many organizations such as the American Cancer Society, the Skin Cancer Foundation and the American Academy of Dermatology recommend wearing tightly-woven protective clothes.
Sunscreen originally blocked only UVB rays, the ones that cause a tan or sunburn. UVA rays were thought to be safe, but a few years ago scientists learned that UVA rays are dangerous. Now most sunscreens block some UVA rays, but not all of them, and scientists still don't know whether the most dangerous UVA rays are being blocked.
Research indicates that most people do not apply enough sunscreen to achieve the desired SPF, and in practical use often achieve an SPF protection equivalent to between 3 and 7. The average adult needs to apply more than one ounce per application and frequent reapplication is required. And sunscreen is hard to apply properly--it is easy to miss a spot and end up with sunburn! Water, wind, heat, humidity, and altitude can decrease sunscreen's effectiveness and it rubs off, sweats off, rinses off and fades away making it necessary to reapply regularly. Studies also show that many people apply sunscreen after sun exposure begins and may take up to one hour to apply it to their children. Since sunburn can occur within minutes, a large quantity of sunscreen must be applied to all family members before going outside. Besides the expense of trying to use sunscreen effectively, it is often a hassle--especially with small children!
In addition, sunscreen is chemical based, protective clothing is not; the tight weave of the material provides the sun protection. And a small percentage of people may be sensitive or allergic to some of the active ingredients in sunscreens. Furthermore, experts recommend that parents refrain from using sunscreen on infants under 6 months old and instead rely on protective clothing and keep them out of direct sunlight.
Why is UV swimwear better than a T-shirt?
While a very heavy, dark, tightly-woven T-shirt may offer sun protection, most summer-weight cotton T-shirts offer as little as 10 SPF dry and lose 50% of their SPF when wet.
T-shirts are often very loosely knitted and have a low SPF, which is further reduced when wet. You can still burn through a T-shirt! Our UV swimwear still rates SPF50+ when wet.
T-shirts absorb water and stretch when damp, leaving exposed areas sensitive to burning. Our UV swimwear has a 4-way stretch, and maintains good shape when wet, preventing skin exposure to the sun.
The first thing you'll do when coming out of the water wearing a wet T-shirt is take it off! Our UV swimwear dries fast in the sun so you can wear it all day, in and out of the water.
What's the best way to protect my child from sun damage?
Sunburn can double your risk of skin cancer. So it's important to avoid burning by protecting yourself from the sun. For more advice and information, see: http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/.
Sun Aware Behavior
Make clothing your first line of protection. Choose clothing that offers good bodycoverage.
Wear a broad-brimmed hat or legionnaires cap, sunglasses
Minimise time in the sun between 10am-3pm. This practice can dramatically reduce your UVR exposure.
Apply sunscreen on clean, dry skin 20 minutes before going outside - do not rub in but leave a light film on the skin.
Always choose a sunscreen that is water resistant, broad spectrum and rates 30+. Reapply every two hours or after swimming or sweating.
How do I know which days have high UV rating?
The strength of UV in the atmosphere depends on where you are in the world, the time of year and of day, the weather, cloud cover and the altitude. To help you know when you do need to be careful, the World Health Organisation developed the UV Index. This is a way of describing the strength of the sun's rays. It is used in weather forecasts and reports. The higher the value, the greater the danger from the sun and the less time the sun takes to damage your skin.
You can check the UV index forecast for different parts of the UK and Europe at the Met Office website: http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/
Remember that you can be sunburnt on cloudy days as well as clear ones and that water and snow can both reflect UV rays. Take additional care on windy days - you may feel cool but the UV rays can still burn you.
What is the difference between SPF (Sun Protection Factor) and UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor)?
SPF (Sun Protection Factor) & Sunscreens
SPF is a measurement specifically for sunscreens. It is an indexed number based on the amount of UV radiation necessary to turn skin treated with sunscreen red compared to untreated skin. The protection a given SPF provides will vary depending on your skin type. For example, SPF 10 allows you to stay in the sun for ten times longer without burning than you could without sunscreen applied. If you are fair-skinned person and normally at risk of burning in ten minutes under the noon day sun, SPF 10 sunscreen would enable you to remain in the sun for 100 minutes before you are at risk from sunburn. If you have a darker skin less prone to burning and say burn in 20 minutes without sunscreen you could stay out in the sun for 200 minutes before burning. Therefore your choice of sunscreen protection should be governed by your skin type and the amount of time you are expecting to spend in the sun.
Good protection depends upon correct use of sunscreen. General advice is that you should apply it 20 minutes before going outside, remembering to re-apply frequently because activities such as wiping your face or playing in the sand can rub it off. Recent research has shown that children often get their worst sunburn of the season while wearing high SPF sunscreen. The reason seems to be complacency: they thought they were protected but forgot to reapply...
The SPF index refers only to UVB protection. Therefore, be wary of "broad spectrum" (protection from UVA & UVB radiation) claims on sunscreens. While many sunscreens actually do protect against UVA rays, there are a few which do not.
UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor)
UPF refers to the amount of UVA & UVB rays blocked by apparel and fabrics.
Some facts about UPF:
UPF is a transmission test: A fabric is exposed to a UV source that simulates the sun's rays at noon. The amount of UV rays blocked by the fabric is measured by a device called a spectrophotometer. The UPF rating refers to how much Ultraviolet Radiation is blocked. For example, a UPF 50+ blocks 98% of the sun's UVA and UVB rays.
UPF 50+ is the highest rating permitted by any National Standard in the world - including the new US Standard.
Manufacturers often use SPF & UPF interchangeably when promoting the sun protection their products offer. This is mainly because research shows that there is much confusion about what these terms mean. An SPF 15 rating is not the same as a UPF rating of 15 - the two numbers are not interchangeable. UPF is the correct reference and measurement for fabrics.
UPF Rating Standards
Sun protective clothing was largely originally developed in Australia. Sun protective clothing and UV protective fabrics in Australia now follow a lab-testing procedure regulated by an Australian federal agency ARPANSA. This standard was established in 1996 after work by Australian swimwear companies. The British standard was established in 1998. The NRPB (National Radiological Protection Board) forms the basis of the British Standards Institute. Using the Australian method as a model, the USA standard was formally established in 2001, and now employs a more stringent testing protocol: This method includes fabric longevity, abrasion/wear and wash ability. UPF testing is now very widely used on clothing and fabrics used for outdoor activities.