Winter Sun Protection

Frost Reflecting UV Rays on Winter Day

Does sun protection matter in the winter? The days are shorter and the air is colder, but the sun’s UV rays don’t take a winter break. In fact, staying sun safe requires year-round defense, and sun protection is equally important in the winter or cold weather.

Short Days, Long Waves

While the shorter wavelength UVB rays are strongest during the summer, they certainly don’t disappear in the winter. In fact, winter conditions like ice and snow can reflect and magnify UVB damage. More critically, their counterpart—the longer wavelength UVA rays that penetrate deeper into your skin—are just as strong throughout the year, independent of the temperature.

Layers of Defense

When it’s cold, you’re likely already dressing in multiple layers. To really ensure sun safety, however, start with a lightweight and breathable UPF 50+ base layer that keeps you comfortable and protected. Plus, if you work up a swebat shoveling snow and need to shed layers, it’s best to do so knowing you can still depend on the UV protection from your base layer.

Dangerous Reflections

Your snow-covered winter wonderland may be beautiful, but it’s also reflecting as much as 80% of UV rays. This means you aren’t just at risk of exposure from above, but also from left, right and below! This shouldn’t be cause for alarm, but should lead you to consider if your sunglasses, sunscreen and apparel really have you protected from all angles of winter’s UV attack.

Sun Reflecting Off Snow for Winter Sun Safety

Overcast and Overconfident

Don’t let that gray overcast sky fool you—most of those UV rays are still pouring through and hitting your skin. Some evidence even suggests that clouds occasionally magnify the impact of UV rays by reflecting and scattering light in different directions. The moral? Just because you can’t see the sun, don’t think it isn’t seeing you.

Check Your Altitude

When you’re at a higher altitude, such as when hiking, skiing or snowboarding in the winter, the thinner atmosphere is allowing more UV penetration. According to NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), every 1,000 feet of elevation increases your UV exposure by as much as 5%. Therefore, if you’re skiing a mountain at 5,000 feet above sea level, your UV exposure is about 25% worse than with equal conditions at sea level.

High Altitude Sun Protection from UV Damage

Healthy Habits

The last reason sun protection is important in the winter is because you want sun safety to become habitual. Maintaining consistent yearlong sun safety helps you develop and prolong the healthy habit of intentional sun protection. Habits are hard to break, so start a good one by making sun protection a daily goal. Consider even the less obvious sun risks of your environment, apply safe and effective skin products and carefully choose protective apparel.

Winter may be a break from the heat, but it’s not a break from the sun. Stay protected and keep exploring, no matter the season, with Rayward Apparel’s UPF 50+ clothing.

Sources: Skin Cancer Foundation, Skincancer.org; National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration, NOAA.gov

Sun Protection Myths: Know the Facts to Prevent UV Damage

Beach Lounging with Umbrella

There are many myths, misconceptions and misunderstandings when it comes to sun protection and preventing sunburn. At Rayward Apparel, however, our goal isn’t just to provide sun protective clothing, but also to provide the information and resources necessary to make you sun smart and UV protected.

Continue below as we bust some of the most damaging sun protection myths:

Sun Protection Myths vs Facts:

MYTH“All sunscreens protect against harmful UV damage.”
FACT: In reality, only “broad spectrum” sunscreen adequately blocks both UVA and UVB rays from the sun. UPF clothing, on the other hand, always blocks both types of UV rays. Therefore, you can trust UPF apparel.

Beach Sun Protection Facts vs Fiction

MYTH“You can’t get sunburn on a cloudy day.”
FACT: Clouds may filter some UV rays, but they do not block skin damaging UVA rays. Therefore, even in cloudy, overcast or foggy weather, sun protection clothing is paramount.

MYTH“You can’t get sunburn in the winter.”
FACT: UV damage doesn’t go on holiday. In fact, while UVB rays are strongest during the spring and summer, you are still being bombarded with UVA rays throughout the year. Furthermore, if the ground is covered by reflective snow or ice, you could actually be hit twice.

MYTH“Glass windows protect you from UV rays.”
FACT: Glass may filter out UVB rays, but UVA rays penetrate most glass surfaces. As a result, unless you are certain a glass window has been treated to block UV rays, wear sun protection apparel even behind glass (such as on a plane, bus, train or car).

MYTH“UV rays don’t penetrate the water’s surface and are blocked.”
FACT: Not only do the sun’s UV rays penetrate beneath the surface of water, but they also reflect off of it. They therefore cause damage both above and below the water’s surface.

Water Reflects UV Rays at the Beach

More UV Protection Myths vs Facts:

MYTH“Hair offers adequate UV protection.”
FACT: In fact, even a thick head of hair or a full beard don’t provide sufficient UV protection. Therefore, they should be protected with broad spectrum sunscreen and sun protection apparel.

MYTH“Regular clothing protects you from the sun.”
FACT: It’s safest to only trust clothing clearly labeled with a UPF rating, but the higher the better. In fact, certain fabrics, such as plain cotton, offer a false sense of security with little in the way of actual UV protection. As a result, anything without a UPF rating should be avoided.

MYTH“Lighter colored clothing, such as yellow, offers better sun protection.”
FACT: All else equal, darker colors (such as black, blue or red) absorb more UV rays, and therefore typically protect better than lighter colors like white or yellow.

MYTH“Beach umbrellas offer adequate UV protection.”
FACT: In fact, umbrellas only block direct UV rays from above. Meanwhile, they do little to shield you from indirect UV rays bouncing or reflecting off other surfaces, such as water or sand.

Beach Lounging with Umbrella

Final Sun Safety Myths vs Facts:

MYTH“It’s ok to get sunburn every now and then.”
FACT: Sun damage is cumulative. That is to say, every additional exposure leads to a greater risk of melanoma and skin cancer. Therefore, each case of sunburn is increasingly unhealthy.

MYTH“Unless you get sunburn, then you’re not damaging your skin.”
FACT: In reality, the sun’s UVA rays are already damaging your skin well before any indications of sunburn.

MYTH“It is safe to sun tan in short intervals. For example, just to get a ‘base.'”
FACT: Firstly, there is no such thing as a healthy tan. In fact, UVA rays, the ones which cause skin tanning, directly contribute to the development of skin cancer.

MYTH“Tanning and sunbathing help prevent skin cancer in the future.”
FACT: The tanning effect is your skin’s direct response to being damaged by UVA rays, and does not prevent skin cancer.

Now that you’re informed, it’s time to get protected, and that’s where Rayward Apparel really shines with our exclusive focus on UPF 50+ apparel. We specialize in UV protection shirts that are as protective as they are comfortable, so shop Rayward Apparel today!

Source: Skin Cancer Foundation, Skincancer.org

What is the Difference Between UPF and SPF?

Kayaking at Sunset with UPF Protection

You’re probably familiar with the SPF (sun protection factor) ratings found on sunscreen, but what is UPF clothing? Did you know clothing has its own UV protection rating system? You’ll see this rating, known as an ultraviolet protection factor, or UPF for short, when buying sun protective clothing or bamboo apparel. But what exactly do SPF and UPF ratings measure, and how do they compare?

Before we dive into the differences, it’s important to understand the reason we are protecting our skin at all. The ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun are harmful, especially during long periods of exposure. Unprotected exposure to UV rays damages the skin, and cause over 90% of all nonmelanoma skin cancers.

Sunny blue sky with UV rays

Broad-Spectrum

Sunscreen labeled as “broad-spectrum” blocks both UVA (long wave ultraviolet A) and UVB (short wave ultraviolet B), each of which damages the skin. Any sunscreen not labeled broad-spectrum is generally designed simply to protect from short wave UVB rays to avoid a burn, but will not block harmful UVA rays. Whenever possible, always choose broad-spectrum protection.

SPF

SPF stands for “sun protection factor” and is a relative measure of a sunscreen’s effectiveness in protecting your skin from UV rays. A higher SPF rating means that it will block a higher percentage of UV rays, but nothing is 100%. The number generally correlates to the multiple of time in which you can avoid a burn. So if you would normally burn in 10 minutes, and properly applied an SPF 30 sunscreen, it would take you about 300 (10 x 30) minutes to burn (assuming you are constantly covered and re-applying).

UPF

So we know what Broad-Spectrum and SPF are, but what is UPF clothing? UPF (ultraviolet protection factor), on the other hand, is specific to sun protective fabrics. UV radiation can penetrate clothing and as with SPF, the higher the value, the more protection you receive. The specific UPF rating of the garment indicates the amount of the sun’s UV radiation it allows through. For example, a UPF 50 shirt only allows 1/50th or 2% of the UV rays through, a UPF 30 shirt only allows 1/30th or about 3% through, and so on. Plus, unlike sunscreen, UPF apparel always blocks both UVA and UVB rays and is always broad-spectrum.

UPF ratings can be difficult to identify, as they’re rarely marked in any product details. That is, unless the garment is specifically designed for UV protection. The average cotton t-shirt’s UPF value is 5 or less, and determining the exact UPF rating requires costly, time-consuming testing. Also, while it’s required that apparel show its country of origin and fabric content, there is no requirement for a manufacturer to provide the product’s UPF rating. This leads to many companies taking the cheap and easy route—not listing it at all. So in general, if an article of clothing does not have a UPF value listed (and it’s not thick like denim or heavy fleece), it’s safest to assume it does not provide significant UV protection.

Kayaking at Sunset with UPF Protection

SPF & UPF, In Summary:

  • SPF rates the UV protection effectiveness of sunscreens
  • UPF rates the UV protection effectiveness of protective fabrics
  • UPF is always broad-spectrum, SPF is not
  • Fabrics with UPF provide constant coverage, SPF and sunscreens need regular re-application to maintain protection
  • When choosing UPF apparel, look for ratings of UPF 50+ for the best protection

Rayward Apparel focuses exclusively on UPF 50+ apparel, specializing in sun protective shirts that are as comfortable as they are protective. Shop Rayward Apparel today!

Our vision sees through the sun’s glare and extends far beyond clothing. We go beyond clothing with our dedication to supporting the fight against skin cancer, donating 5% of all profits to charities with a similar vision to ours. Learn more about how we give back.

Source: Skin Cancer FoundationSkincancer.org

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