One of the sneakiest natural dangers to your body is UV rays. But what are they, exactly? The American Cancer Society defines ultraviolet (UV) radiation as a form of electromagnetic radiation, the main source of which comes from the sun. However, UV rays can also be man-made and emit from sources like tanning beds and even welding torches (who knew!). Exposure to UV rays can cause skin cancer, as damage to the DNA of skin cells becomes inevitable over time.
Besides tanning on the beach or in a tanning bed, there are various, unexpected ways UV rays may be causing you harm. From skiing on a sunny day, taking a stroll beneath a cloud-covered sky, to driving in a sun-soaked car - UV rays are always present. The strength of UV rays, however, depends on a number of factors. For instance, the time of day affects the strength of UV rays; they are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., no matter the weather. Seasons also have an effect on the strength of UV rays (they’re strongest during spring and summer). Even altitude has an effect, as UV rays gain strength at higher altitudes.
The American Cancer Society explains that "the amount of UV exposure a person gets depends on the strength of the rays, the length of time the skin is exposed, and whether the skin is protected with clothing or sunscreen." Whether you think you’re protected or not, taking the right precautions against harmful UV radiation is always a good idea.
Protecting Yourself from UV Rays
There are many different ways to protect yourself from harmful UV radiation. Why did your parents cover you in sunscreen as a kid? Well, for one, so that you wouldn’t get sunburned. But there’s more to that notion than just the hopeful avoidance of an uncomfortable burn. Sunscreen acts as a filter for UV rays, which can cause more long-term damage than just a day-long sunburn. Damaging the skin's cellular DNA with excessive UV radiation can produce genetic mutations leading to skin cancer. That being said, even with the proper and consistent application of sunscreen, you're not entirely safe from the sun's harmful rays. Instead, sunscreen should be considered an intricate part of your protection plan, but not the only means by which you seek sun-shelter.
Sun Protective Gear
Aside from avoiding the sun completely (which is unrealistic and not recommended) and wearing sunscreen daily, your next best bet against harmful UV ray exposure is to treat your body right by wearing various items of protective sun gear. First, always have a pair of sunglasses on hand. UV-blocking sunglasses are important for protecting the delicate skin around the eyes, as well as the eyes themselves. Sunglasses with labels that say "UV APPROVED" usually block 99-100% of harmful UVA and UVB rays.
Sun Protective Clothing
You can also stay sun-safe by wearing sun protective clothing when you know you will have exposure to UV rays. Going to the beach or an outdoor sporting event? Don't leave home without a UPF garment. Dermatologist recommended and approved, this clothing includes the UPF rating because it’s made with fabrics that specifically protect against the sun. A UPF rating measures against the amount of UVA and UVB radiation that penetrates the fabric, thereby making its way through to the skin. So, if you wear a shirt with UPF 50, you're letting just 1/50th of the sun's UV radiation reach the skin. Not too shabby.
Wide brimmed hats and hats with UPF protection are also great options for sun protection. We often forget to apply sunscreen to the back of the neck, ears, and scalp, but those places are just as susceptible, if not even more so, to the UV rays than the rest of our bodies. Luckily, protective hats take care of all those easy-to-miss places.
While technically all clothing can be considered sun-protective (if it covers you, you’re on your way to protection), by wearing pieces that are UPF rated, you’ll have truly gone the distance in helping to protect your skin. Especially for anyone who particularly enjoys being outside. Whether running, skiing, or hanging on the beach, regular sunscreen application, eye protection, hats, and of course, UPF-labeled clothing, are a no-brainer for skin safety against those sneaky UV rays.
Are you looking to stay sun-safe without sacrificing style? Visit our website to browse our collection of sun protective clothing. With fashionable pieces for men, women, and kids, Cabana Life has something for every member of your family.Photo provided by @amybelievesinpink