Sun Protection

sun protective clothing

Sun Protective Clothing

This is the last part of our 3-part series on sun protection.

After a long day at the beach with inadequate sun protection, you will find very obvious tan lines on your arms and legs. This is due to the fact that your clothing is able to provide you with some UV protection. However, is that enough?

Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF)

Instead of SPF (Sun Protection Factor), you will find that sun protective clothing will carry UPF ratings. A clothing’s UPF rating gives an indication of its ability to block both UVA and UVB rays.

UPF 1524 blocks 93.3%95.9% UV rays
UPF 2539 blocks 96.0%97.4% UV rays
UPF 4050+ blocks 97.5%98+% UV rays

Normal Clothing vs. Sun Protective Clothing

Back to the question of whether your normal clothing is offering enough UV protection, the answer is NO.

The UPF rating of normal clothing is estimated to be about UPF 6, which still allows about 17% of the UV rays through. Even a bottle of SPF 15 sunblock offers more protection than that! Therefore, if you are going to be staying under the sun for prolonged periods (e.g. kayaking), do put on clothing with higher UPF ratings. It is easy to find clothing with UPF rating of 50/50+. Billabong, Quiksilver and Uniqlo (women’s only) are some brands that carry sun protective clothing.

Is Sunblock Redundant Then?

NO! Definitely not!

Firstly, your sun protective clothing cannot possibly cover every inch of your body. Secondly, the UV protection of the sun protective clothing may be reduced when it gets wet, over-stretched, or worn out.

As such, in order to keep your skin protected from UV rays and to remain fair, you should still apply sunblock, even under your sun protective clothing. If you have a friend who refuses to put on sunblock just because he is wearing a rash guard, don’t forget to share this post with him 😉

sunglasses sun protection

Sunglasses – What You Must Know

This post is the second of SwimInSG’s 3-part series on sun protection.

Do you know that UV rays can cause cataracts, cancer of the eye, and even blindness? If you do not want to increase your risk of getting the abovementioned medical problems, you should definitely read on!

Sunglasses – How They Work

When you are under the sun on a bright and sunny day, the iris in your eye will constrict to reduce the amount of light reaching your cornea. When you put on a pair of sunglasses, the iris will dilate (open up) to allow more light to enter. The darker the tint of your lenses, the more your iris will dilate to allow light in (up to a comfortable level).

A label that you will commonly see when purchasing sunglasses is “UV 400”. This means that the lenses on the sunglasses can protect your eyes from both UVA and UVB rays.

Cheap vs. Imitation

There is nothing wrong with wearing a pair of cheap sunglasses. Brands such as Oakley and Ray-Ban are expensive as they spend a lot on marketing and branding, and these costs are being passed on to consumers. A pair of cheap sunglasses from a lesser-known brand may offer as much protection as a pair of Ray-Ban.

However, the problem lies with wearing a pair of imitation sunglasses. While they may be cheap and look as good as the real thing, it is actually very bad for your eyes. Most of the time, imitations will have the same “UV 400” label, but it actually does not provide UV protection. What you are paying for would probably be just for lenses that are tinted, and nothing more.

When you put on that pair of imitation sunglasses, it still protects your eyes from intense sunlight, and causes your iris to dilate. What this means is that by putting on that pair of imitation sunglasses, you are subjecting your eyes to greater risk than when you do not put on any sunglasses at all!

But I Wear Contact Lenses With UV Protection!

There are contact lenses that offer UV protection for the eye. However, as the manufacturer clearly states:

contact lens uv protection
Retrieved from http://www.acuvue.com/technologies-home on 3 Oct. 15

Now that you know about the risk of wearing sunglasses without UV protection, be sure to only buy sunglasses from reputable sellers, and throw out any pair of sunglasses without UV protection you may have. Don’t forget to share this piece of information with your loved ones as well 🙂

Sun Protection Factor – The Higher The Better?

Do you know the meaning of the SPF number on your bottle of sunblock? Is it true that a bottle of SPF 100 sunblock provides greater protection than a bottle of SPF 30 sunblock? Is the SPF all that you look for when you purchase a bottle of sunblock? This post seeks to help you make better decisions when you purchase your next bottle of sunblock.

SPF

The sun protection factor (SPF) measures the amount of protection provided by the sunblock to block UVB rays. UVB rays are the main cause of getting sunburns. So what exactly do the numbers mean?

SPF 15 blocks about 93% of UVB rays
SPF 30 blocks about 97% of UVB rays
SPF 50 blocks about 98% of UVB rays
SPF 100 blocks about 99% of UVB rays

From the above, you can see that an SPF 30 sunblock isn’t twice as effective as an SPF 15 sunblock. There is only a marginal increase in effectiveness in blocking UVB rays as the SPF increases. In fact, no sunblock offers 100% UVB protection. Most importantly, using a sunblock with a higher SPF value does not mean that you can apply the sunblock less frequently! Regardless of SPF value, the sunblock would probably be gone after a few hours. The National Skin Centre (Singapore) recommends a water-resistant sunblock to be reapplied every 2 hours (1 hour if you have been swimming). This means that sunblock that is not water-resistant should be applied much more frequently as your perspiration would have caused the sunblock to wear off faster.

Protection Grade of UVA (PA)

Having mentioned so much about UVB, you may be wondering if there is a UVA, and whether it is important at all. If you are concerned about your looks, UVA is VERY important! UVA accelerates the aging of your skin! On top of that, UVA has been found to result in long-term skin damage and just like UVB, can cause skin cancer.

Most sunblock now offers both UVA and UVB protection. UVA protection may be indicated by phrases such as “broad spectrum” and “multi spectrum”. Many also use PA to indicate UVA protection, with PA+++ offering more UVA protection than PA++.

Now that you know more about UVA and UVB protection, be sure to get the bottle of sunblock that provides you with the level of protection that you are comfortable with, and reapply it frequently!