10 easy things you can do to reduce Sun exposure
Festina watch, Dooney and Bourke snake print bag, Judith Leiber gemstone belt, Ray Ban sunglasses, unbranded silk scarf, Hermes collier de chien bangle, Salvatore Ferragamo snake pumps, topaz earrings (all own) and stripe tunic sun-protective dress c/o Coolibar

In my post why you want sun-protective clothing for a great look, I already explained that ultraviolet (UV) radiation is the harmful part of the solar spectrum. The post below explains why the rule “short shadow, seek shade” fails to protect you fully from harmful UV rays and points out measures that you can do reduce your exposure.

Contents
  1. Which factors determine your Sun exposure
  2. How to reduce your exposure to UV radiation
    • Avoid the Sun at its zenith
    • Be aware of your total daily exposure
    • Hike at low elevation
    • Be aware that diffuse UV radiation also exists in the shadow
    • Prefer cloudy over cloud-free for being outside
    • Don’t harm the ozone layer
    • Be aware that more UV reaches the ground in pristine air
    • Wear sun-protective clothing and sunscreen
  3. Best brand for affordable sun-protective clothes
  4. Where to buy inexpensive sun-protective attire

Disclosure: Ad. The Women’s Panorama Dress UPF 50+ is a sample from Coolibar’s women dress collection. The post is not endorsed by them. I wrote it entirely myself and it represents my own 100% honest opinion.

Which factors determine your sun exposure

There are at least ten factors that affect your exposure to solar UV radiation namely time spend in the Sun, solar zenith or elevation angle, your altitude and location on Earth, the season, reflection from surfaces, the ozone layer, atmospheric trace gases, water vapor and atmospheric particles including pollutants, cloud ice crystals and water droplets, using sunscreen and what you wear.

back view of striped sun protective midi dress
Example of a sun protective dress.

How to reduce your exposure to UV radiation

While you cannot do anything about the physics, you can easily use what they do to work in your favor.

Avoid the Sun at its zenith

The solar zenith angle gives the angle between the Sun at local noon (when sun radiation is the most powerful) and the center of the Sun. The solar elevation gives the angle of the Sun above the horizon and the Sun. They refer to the Sun’s position in the sky.
In plain English, the higher the star in the sky, the shorter is the distance the UV radiation travels thru the atmosphere, and the more UV can reach you. Consequently,
Reduce the time that you spend outside around local noon. #sunsafe #skinhealth Click To Tweet
Take your walk, run or shop early in the morning or evening.

Be aware of your total daily exposure

The strength differs also with season, latitude and hemisphere. It is strongest around summer solstice and lowest around winter solstice. Due to the angle of the Earth to the ecliptic the northern and southern hemisphere have different exposure to the solar radiation. The southern hemisphere receives more than the northern hemisphere. In the respective summer, the polar regions receive solar radiation 24/7. This means summed up over a day these areas experience more solar input at the top of the atmosphere than the Tropics on that same day. Reduce the time spend outside.

diagram showing solar radiation at the TOA depending on the day of the year and latitude
Daily mean solar radiation at the top of the atmosphere (TOA) as a function of the day (X-axis) and latitude (Y-axis). TDB means barycentric dynamical time (from French temps barycentrique dynamique). This is time with reference to the center of mass of our solar system. Here day 1 is January 1 from 12 am (00:00) to 11:59 pm (23:59). This plot reveals that the mean and hence total solar radiation at the TOA is largest in the respective hemisphere’s summer in polar regions. From: Kramm et al. (2017)
Don't let the Arctic fool you. #triva #funfacts Click To Tweet

Hike at low elevation

The importance of the distance the rays have to travel thru the atmosphere also means that altitude plays a role. You experience more exposure at local noon and same latitude, when you are hiking on a mountain (i.e. at high elevation) than in a place just around sea level height. Consequently, ask yourself whether the great view from that mountain is really worth it? If not, hike in the valley or at lower altitude.

Be aware that diffuse UV radiation also exists in the shadow

Albedo refers to the ratio of the reflected sunlight of a given wavelength to the sunlight received at that wavelength. Let’s put this physical effect in easy words what this means for your exposure. When you are on a glacier, on snow or ice, close to the water, a mirror or any other reflective surface, you not only receive the Sun rays that directly come from the Sun, but also some of those where reflected from other surfaces. This reflection can reach areas that are shaded. Thus, following the general rule of thumb Watch your shadow. Short shadow, seek shade. #Sunprotection #skinhealth Click To Tweet only means that you reduce your exposure. This so called diffuse UV radiation is the reason why being in the shade fails to rescue you from sunburn.

Prefer cloudy over cloudfree for being outside

Cloudiness. You have made yourself the experience that clouds with their ice crystals and/or water droplets dim down the Sunlight at the ground. The thicker the clouds, and the more the sky is covered the larger the effect. Cloud layers at different heights also influence the solar radiation. Note that sunlight can also be reflected between clouds in all directions.

Don’t harm the ozone layer

The ozone concentration around 30-35 km height is critical. The ozone layer absorbs on average about 98% of the UV radiation in the wavelength range of 200 nm to 315 nm. Absorption is slightly lower (higher) when there is less (more) ozone.

graphic showing the ozone profile with height and where it absorbs UV
Vertical distribution of Ozone in Dobson units per kilometer height. UV radiation is distinguished depending on its wavelength in UV-A (315 nm – 400 nm), UV-B (280 nm and 315 nm) and UV-C (100 nm – 280 nm). UV-A light is not absorbed by the ozone layer. UV-B is absorbed between 97 to 99%. By NASA – [1], Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12761806
In the ozone layer, freons, i.e. gases used in spray bottles, destroy ozone in the ozone layer. Thus, only use pump spray.

Be aware that more UV reaches the ground in pristine air

Other gases and aerosols. Ozone is not the only gas that absorbs radiation in the UV range. Water vapor, carbon dioxide (CO2), as well as some aerosols can absorb UV light at different heights. Thus, their vertical profiles of concentration and horizontal distribution can influence the exposure. This means that you are more in “danger” in a National Park or Wilderness Area than in a mega city.

haze from trace gases, aerosols over LA
“LA Haze” by RuggyBearLA is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Denali on a sunny day
View on Denali in Denali Park, Alaska on a pristine, clear day. “Alaska 2005 1 (172)” by raer is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Wear sun-protective clothing and sunscreen

While you only have limited control with the above points, you are fully in control of what you wear. When you want to protect your skin Not all clothes are equal. Wear sun-protective clothes. #skinhealth #Coolibar Click To Tweet.
Wearing Sun-safe clothing and applying sunscreen to uncovered skin is your best measure of protection. Make wearing sun-protective clothes and sunscreen a habit. #health #selfcare Click To Tweet

street style blogger in casual striped tunic with floral scarf
Me in a Coolibar sun-protective dress

Best brand for affordable sun-protective clothes

Coolibar produces very chic sun-protective clothing. The look of the day, for example, features their Women’s Panorama Dress with UPF 50+. You can learn more about UPF 50+ in my Coolibar review post at the link.

details of Coolibar tunic dress, bag and heels
Zoom-in on the dress to illustrate the matching stripes at the seam.

The fabric feels super soft. The dress is well sewn, i.e. the stripes match at the seams. It comes also in black with white stripes and white with black stripes in sizes XXS to 3X for $99. Thus, every woman can afford to protect herself, look chic and feel comfortable at the same time.
You owe yourself to feel safe, comfortable and chic. #health #agelessstyle Click To Tweet
I am wearing a size S and it is a perfect fit.

blogger Nicole walking in a white mint midi long sleeve dress with scarf, bag, pumps
Festina watch, Dooney and Bourke snake print bag, Judith Leiber gemstone belt, Ray Ban sunglasses, unbranded silk scarf, Hermes collier de chien bangle, Salvatore Ferragamo snake pumps, topaz earrings, Hipstik pantyhose (all own) and stripe tunic sun-protective dress c/o Coolibar

Where to buy inexpensive sun-protective attire

Their collection encompasses everything from vacation swimwear and beach cover ups including hats over outdoor clothing to business casual attire. Browse their collection now to convince and protect yourself.

Reduce your risk of skin cancer, wear sun-protective clothes. #skinhealth #Coolibar Click To Tweet

References

Kramm, G. , Dlugi, R. and Mölders, N. (2017) Using Earth’s Moon as a Testbed for Quantifying the Effect of the Terrestrial Atmosphere. Natural Science9, 251-288. doi: 10.4236/ns.2017.98026.

Mölders, N., Kramm, G. (2014) Lectures in Meteorology, Springer, Heidelberg.

Mölders, N. and Kramm, G. (2018) Climatology of Air Quality in Arctic Cities—Inventory and Assessment. Open Journal of Air Pollution7, 48-93. doi: 10.4236/ojap.2018.71004.

Photos of me: G. Kramm

© 2013-2020 Nicole Mölders | All rights reserved

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. donnadoesdresses

    Yes, it’s crazy sunny here in beautiful Australia all year round and of course that ozone layer damage down here too… cute dress, Nicole!! I love your incredible scientific knowledge – always learning something here!
    Have a great week!
    Donna 🧚🏻‍♀️❤️🐝

  2. Sabine Gimm

    Schönes Outfit liebe Nicole. Meine Devise im Sommer: nicht in die pralle Sonne. Das halte ich nicht lange aus. Ansonsten gut eincremen mit einem hohen Lichtschutzfaktor.

    Liebe Grüße Sabine

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