New Skin Saver: Sun Protective Clothing

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By now you know that protecting yourself from the sun is one of the smartest things you can do to prevent skin cancer and keep aging at bay. Sunscreen and hats are common go-to tools to ward off damaging ultraviolet (UV) rays but is the skin underneath our clothing getting enough protection?

“It’s difficult to get a sunburn through your clothing since most clothing acts as a physical block,” says Smithtown, NY, dermatologist Marina Peredo, MD

That said, “If the clothing is a light color and or a light weave, then ultraviolet rays will pass through the clothing and affect the skin,” says San Antonio dermatologist Vivan Bucay, MD. “I tell patients to hold up the item of clothing up to a window. If light comes through the fabric or they can see through it, then sunlight can pass through to their skin.” 

Considering that your average white t-shirt only has a UPF (the term for SPF in clothing) of five, you could potentially expose yourself to harmful UV rays if you don’t have any added sun protection. Luckily, there are brands out there, such as MOTT 50, that have created clothing to solve this problem.

Sure, sun protective clothing doesn’t sound very chic, but MOTT 50 designs their clothes with fashion in mind. On top of that, all of their pieces have UPF 50 and are certified by the International UV Testing Laboratory (IUVTL). They make everything from bathing suits to dresses to active wear, all of which are incredibly comfortable.

While stylish sun protective clothing is a welcome addition to our sun protection arsenal, there is still more you can do for skin cancer prevention. “Avoid peak sunlight hours—usually between 10 a.m and 2 p.m.,” says Dr. Bucay. It’s also a good idea to wear a broad-rimmed hat, sunglasses with good UV protection and protecting your lips with an SPF of at least 15. There are even oral supplements that provide sun protection.