The sun's ultraviolet rays, UVA and UVB, are known to cause skin damage, from freckling and moles to fatal skin cancer. That's why it is important to wear the right protective clothing, and apply sunscreen products to your skin, to help you stay sun safe and block harmful ultraviolet rays. Although UV protective fabrics and sunglasses are crucial to preventing sun damage, not all sun-protective apparel is created equal. Knowing the best types of sun-blocking fabrics will help you battle the burn effectively.
Difference Between UVA and UVB Rays
UVA rays are ever present regardless of the season or weather. On cloudy days or when people are entirely covered in clothing, they tend to think UVA rays aren't present -- a big mistake. UVA rays are just as strong under those conditions. UVA rays cause wrinkling and premature aging by penetrating more than just the skin's surface. UVB rays are the culprit when sunburn strikes. Unlike UVA rays, UVB rays are more prevalent during the summer. UVB rays are at their strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Both UVA and UVB rays cause cancer.
When choosing a sunscreen, look for both UVA and UVB protection or the phrase "broad spectrum" on the bottle; this will ensure that a sunscreen will protect against both. Sunscreens are available in different strengths, for instance, SPF 15, SPF 30 and SPF 50 -- SPF meaning sun protection factor. Use a minimum of SPF 15 to protect your skin effectively. The higher the SPF, the longer the sun protection. Sunscreens absorb the rays while sunblocks divert them.
Exposure to UVA or UVB rays can cause severe eye damage and conditions like cataracts, macular degeneration and skin cancer of the eyelids. Wear protective eyewear to prevent or minimize damage to the eyes and vision. Sunglasses should totally cover the eyes and the skin around them to ensure proper blocking of UV rays. They should not distort colors and must filter out UV rays up to 99 percent.
Select umbrellas that effectively block out the majority of the sun's damaging UV rays. Many fabrics are not impervious to sunlight; however, some chemically treated fabrics provide protection up to SPF 50. This means that the material is 95 percent effective in blocking UV rays.
Solar screens are something familiar to people who live in states like Florida, where it is necessary to keep insects and critters such as alligators, snakes and panthers away from patios and pools. Solar screens are more than just pest control; they block 80 to 90 percent of UV rays when you use them to cover a patio or an outdoor area used for recreation or leisure.
Nadelee Biondi has been writing professionally since 2004. After receiving a Bachelor of Arts in English at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, she began contributing to "Sunset" and "Better Homes and Gardens." Biondi is also pursuing a Master of Arts in English literature.