Ok, you apply a broad-spectrum facial moisturizing cream with SPF 15+ as part of your routine every morning. You even stay out of the Sun between 10 am (1000) and 4 pm (1600) because it’s when the Sun’s radiation is the most intense. You wear sunglasses that provide 99 to 100 % UV-A and UV-B protection to protect your eyes. But is that sufficient?This post talks about why dressing isn’t enough and not all fabrics provide protection from harmful UV-A and UV-B.
- What is UV radiation?
- Can you avoid damage from sun exposure?
- What are the requirements for Sun protective fabrics?
- Is there sun protective clothing beyond outdoors or vacation?
- Why would you wear Sun protective clothes at work?
- Summary and conclusions
Disclosure: Ad. The top, skirt are samples from Coolibar. The post is not endorsed by them. I wrote it entirely myself and it represents my own 100% honest opinion.
What is UV radiation?
The figure below shows a schematic view of the Sun’s spectrum of solar radiation for the Earth. The Sun produces light similar to what would be expected from a 5778 K (5505°C) blackbody. This value is roughly the Sun’s surface temperature. The black line corresponds to these theoretical values of a perfect blackbody at various wavelengths. The yellow shaded area is the Sunlight without atmospheric absorption that arrives at the top of the atmosphere. It depends among other things on the time of the year, distance Earth-Sun, Earth’s ecliptic and eccentricity (which changes at very long time scales). The red shaded area gives the solar radiation at the various wavelengths that arrives at sea-level height at a surface, e.g. on your skin. The difference between the theoretical black line and the red shaded area is what the atmosphere absorbs.
Now take a look at the figure in the region for ultraviolet (UV) which ranges from 100 nm to 400 nm. UV light between 315 nm and 400 nm is not absorbed by the ozone (O3) layer in the stratosphere. This range is called UV-A. In the range between 280 nm and 315 nm – the UV-B – most of the radiation is absorbed. The so-called short-wave ultraviolet, UV-C or germical (hard) UV light is used to sterilize surfaces, medical instruments and recently masks.
All UV wavelengths damage collagen, which accelerates aging of the skin. Both UV-A and UV-B also break up vitamin A in skin. UV-B damages the DNA (see schematic view below), which can lead to skin cancer.
Can you avoid damage from sun exposure?
In an earlier post, I explained why being in the shade fails to rescue you from sunburn. It’s also obvious that you can’t apply sunscreen to your entire body and then dress. The clothing would rubb it off. It would look like a mess from the inside. Maybe even from the outside as well. Just think of how your beach cover-up looks at the end of your vacation. So what?
What are the requirements for Sun protective fabrics?
You need sun blocking clothes. Not all fabric is equal. Regular readers of High Latitude Style may remember my post about the worst sunburn of my life. The fabric had a weave that was so wide that even visible light could pass.
The weave of the fabric must be so tight that harmful UV radiation can’t pass thru it. Also the color and weight plays a role. Addition of sun-bouncing minerals, titanium dioxide and zinc oxide infused at the fiber or fabric level can help to avoid harm from UV rays. That’s the material that is also included in physical sunscreens. Since these ingredients remain active even when sweating and after multiple laundering, you stay shielded.
Is there Sun protective clothing beyond outdoors or vacation?
Yes, you are right. Sun secure clothing was first developed for outdoor wear. However, knowing that exposure occurs daily everywhere and you spend most of your time not exploring the Great Outdoors, Coolibar has developed also collections also for everyday wear. Thus, you can get also incredibly effortlessly chic garments for your everyday urban and work life. The outfits in this post show just a fraction of your options.
The look in the outfit photos above shows a blouse and skirt example from the collection. On my petite frame (5 ft 4, 1.63 m), the skirt has a maxi hem. However, on taller women, it will be tea-length. In a business casual work environment, the look works on Casual Friday, no matter where the hem hits. The top works even in corporate style under a blazer.
The look above shows a Coolibar tunic styled for Casual Friday with cropped pants.
Why would you wear Sun protective clothes at work?
Lunch break, Babe. You go out for lunch, which is at about local noon. On nice days you sit in the outside area of the restaurant or on a bench in the park with your brown bag. Or you stand in line outside for an ice cream or a hot dog. Remember Outdoors is the space between buildings. #urbanlife #citylife Click To Tweet.
When you are a 7-to-3 or 8-to-4 employee, you wait for the bus or tram in the Sun when it is pretty intense.
Summary and conclusions
Coolibar offers not only affordable outdoor clothing, sun hats, and swimwear collections that shelter you from harmful radiation, but also effortlessly chic pieces for your everyday life. Enjoy 15% off & FREE shipping on your first order. Browse their collections now.Wear tightly woven, loose fitting clothes. #Coolibar #skinhealth Click To Tweet
Next week I will write why the shadow rule Watch your shadow – Short shadow, seek shade! #Sunprotection #skinhealth Click To Tweet is just a very general rule of thumb to assess your exposure.
Mölders, N., Kramm, G. (2014) Lectures in Meteorology, Springer, Heidelberg.
Torma, H., Berne, B, Vahlquist, A (1988). UV irradiation and topical vitamin A modulate retinol esterification in hairless mouse epidermis. Acta Derm. Venereol. 68, 291–299.
WHO UV and health
Photos of me: G. Kramm
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