What Is Actinic Keratosis? And Will UPF Apparel Help?

Rayward Apparel Hat And Gaiter

Actinic keratosis is not technically skin cancer, but is one of the most common pre-cancer signs. Like skin cancers, actinic keratosis is caused by exposure to UV radiation.

Spotting Actinic Keratosis

What Does It Look Like:

It may vary in appearance, but some of the most common signs are:

  • A small rough or dry patch of skin
  • Usually smaller in diameter than the approximate diameter of a quarter (about 1 inch)
  • Flat or slightly raised
  • Might be itching, crusting, or bleeding
  • A noticeably different color than the surrounding skin
  • Often found on head, face, and neck – areas where you experience the most UV exposure

What Causes Actinic Keratosis?

Like many skin related cancers and diseases, actinic keratosis is caused by UV radiation. Properly protecting yourself from UV rays will not only help reduce the likelihood of developing actinic keratosis, but other forms of skin cancer as well.

Exposure to UV radiation is cumulative over your lifetime. This means every bad sun burn growing up increases your likely hood of developing a skin cancer as an adult. For that reason it isn’t until adulthood that we see most skin cancers appear, but that doesn’t mean we can’t protect ourselves earlier in life. While actinic keratosis is usually found on people 40 and older, it can also appear on people much younger.

Preventing Actinic Keratosis

  • Keep your skin protected. If you’ll be out in the sun, use sunscreen or wear UPF apparel (UV protective clothing). Keep any exposed areas of skin protected from harmful UV rays.
  • Find shade, especially between the hours of 10am and 2pm when UV radiation is the most intense. We aren’t recommending you lock yourself indoors, just be smart and make sure you stay protected.
  • Don’t go tanning. Never. Tanning beds can cause just as much damage to your skin as the UV radiation from the sun. It’s just not worth it, regardless of how good you think you may look afterwards.
  • Do monthly skin checks. Know the ABC’s of skin cancer to locate suspicious spots and check for any changes monthly. If you find anything unusual, have a dermatologist check it out.

If You Think You Might Have It, See A Dermatologist

Rayward Apparel Hat And Gaiter

Actinic keratosis can look slightly different on everyone. Here at Rayward Apparel we pride ourselves on helping our customers prevent skin cancer with quality UPF apparel, but we are not medical professionals. If you think you might have it, our recommendation is always to see a professional to have it evaluated further. Left untreated it has about a 5-10% chance of developing into squamous cell carcinoma. While that might be a minimal risk, it’s still too high to leave to chance. Getting it evaluated by a dermatologist is always going to be your best bet.

How Rayward Apparel is Helping

All of our products are certified at UPF 50+, providing the best possible skin protection available. In addition to our commitment to high quality sun protective products, we have a vision of helping with the greater good. 5% of all company profits are donated to organizations dedicated to the research and treatment of skin cancers – now and forever. In addition we work diligently to help create awareness around the dangers of UV exposure while promoting a more healthy and active lifestyle.

5 New Year’s Resolutions for Better Sun Protection

New Year's Resolutions for Better Sun Protection

As we say goodbye to 2020 (or good riddance), and ring in 2021, don’t forget to pause a moment to consider your New Year’s resolutions. Along with your personal goals and aspirations for 2021, consider these five resolutions for better sun protection. Whether you’re resolving to keep or start these sun safety goals, the important thing is that they’ll help you have a safer, more enjoyable 2021. Because let’s face it, 2020 itself felt like a bad sunburn. It’s been painful, uncomfortable, irritating and at times seemed like it just wouldn’t go away. And while we don’t know what 2021 has in store for each of us, we do have control over whether or not we face it with our best sun protection.

Sun Protection Resolution #1: Wear More Sun Protection Clothing

You probably saw this one coming, but wearing more sun protection clothing should be on everyone’s list of New Year’s resolutions for 2021. Not only does UPF-rated UV clothing offer better sun protection, it also looks and feels great. Shop our favorite UV-protective clothing, including Rayward Apparel’s Sun Bound collection of UPF 50+ shirts, and start 2021 right.

Sunset paddleboarding with UPF apparel

Sun Protection Resolution #2: Apply (and Reapply) Sunscreen as Recommended

Many sunburns aren’t the result of neglecting to use sunscreen, but rather neglecting to use it properly. The key with most broad spectrum sunscreens is to apply them approximately 15 minutes before you step out into the sun. The next critical component in proper sunscreen use is to reapply it at least every 2 hours, and more often if you’re sweating or swimming. Therefore, for 2021, resolve to have better sun protection by following the recommended application (and reapplication) directions for your favorite broad-spectrum sunscreen.

Sun Protection Resolution #3: Pay More Attention to the Weather

Part of achieving better sun protection requires understanding how the weather impacts your risks of skin damage and UV exposure. First off, when it comes to the weather and UV protection, know that looks can be deceiving. Even with cloud cover or overcast skies, UV rays still penetrate through to cause skin damage. Additionally, cooler outside temperatures may disguise the fact that your skin is still being bombarded with damaging UV rays. A great resource to check before going outdoors is the UV Index, which measures the daily levels of UV exposure by location. Armed with more knowledge and a better focus on the weather, you’ll be ready to fend off the sun in 2021. 

Overcast skies with a rainbow

Sun Protection Resolution #4: Schedule a Skin Exam

This sun safety resolution is actually a three-parter, with the first step being to schedule a skin exam with a doctor. The second, of course, is to then have that skin exam. If you haven’t had one recently (or ever), a skin exam is critical for getting a benchmark for your skin’s health. A routine skin exam will also help to familiarize you with the warning signs of skin damage and skin cancer. Remember, early detection is critical in the fight against cancer, and skin exams help ensure the warning signs aren’t missed. Oh, and the third part? To follow the advice of your doctor, and to continually monitor your skin’s health. Now, grab your phone, and start 2021 by scheduling a skin exam. Next, go to that exam. Lastly, follow the advice you get at the exam.

Sun Protection Resolution #5: Have an Adventure

Your fifth resolution for better sun protection in 2021 is to go on an adventure! At first, this might sound counter to typical sun safety advice, but Rayward Apparel isn’t your typical clothing company. With our UPF clothing designed for the sun, and the better sun protection achieved by sticking with resolutions #1-4, you no longer have to be afraid of the sun. There’s a reason our motto is “More Adventure, Less Exposure,” and not “Stay Inside and Hide from the Skin.” Enjoying the outdoors is not only a huge part of our lives, but it’s also healthy, rewarding and fun. Make sure you feed your need for adventure in 2021—just don’t forget your sun protection!

Taking a tropical beach adventure with better sun protection

Make 2021 a year to remember for the right reason! Resolve to take better care of your skin, starting with these five resolutions for better sun safety. By doing so, you’ll leave sunburns, skin damage and the like behind, and greet the New Year with a better sun protection plan that helps you make the most of 2021.

We wish you a safe and happy New Year full of adventure!

Are ten hours of fireworks too much? We think not:

Everything You Need to Know About the UV Index

Couple Hiking at Sunset with UV Rays

Wondering what the Ultraviolet (UV) Index means? Or perhaps you’ve heard of the UV Index, but you’re not sure how to use it. Either way, you’re in luck as we’re sharing everything you need to know about the UV Index. Continue below to learn what it is, how it’s determined and why it matters!

What Is the Ultraviolet (UV) Index?

The Ultraviolet Index, more commonly known as the UV Index, forecasts the risk of skin damage from exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet radiation. It’s an invaluable resource when planning to spend any time outdoors.

The index ranges from 0-11+, with the higher values indicating an increased level of radiation exposure. These index values are also grouped by threat level, associated with anywhere from “Low” to “Extreme” levels of overexposure danger. For a TL;DR-friendly video, see below:

How Is the UV Index Calculated?

In the United States, the Ultraviolet Index is calculated by the National Weather Service. Their model predicts the ground-level strength of UV radiation while factoring ozone levels, weather conditions and elevation. This helps predict the length and intensity of UV waves, which determines their impact on our skin. If you are like us and enjoy nerding out over weather models, check out this more detailed explanation from the EPA.

How to Check the UV Index

You can get the UV Index from most popular weather providers, such as The Weather Channel and AccuWeather. If your favorite weather source does not share the Ultraviolet (UV) Index, you should consider finding a source that does.

You can also use the following widget to lookup your UV Index by zip code. Give it a try now:

Alternatively, if you have an Alexa-enabled device, you can specifically ask for the day’s UV Index, in addition to full weather forecasts. This is a great step to take before leaving the house to help you take the necessary precautions to stay sun safe.

Woman at the beach after checking UV Index

How to Use the Ultraviolet (UV) Index

Once you know the UV Index, it’s time to apply this information and plan around it. Your exact course of action depends on the Ultraviolet Index value, so here’s a breakdown:

UV Index = 0-2 (Low)

Yay! You can safely enjoy the outdoors with even minimal UV protection. We still recommend sunscreen, sunglasses and lightweight UPF apparel.

UV Index = 3-5 (Moderate)

In this range, your risk of exposure increases to the point where sun protection is essential, especially during midday. Apply an SPF 30+ sunscreen and wear a hat, sunglasses and UV protective clothing.

UV Index = 6-7 (High)

Once the Ultraviolet Index reaches 6, you’re in the “High” risk levels. Wear a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses and long-sleeved UPF 50+ apparel, in addition to a broad spectrum SPF 30+ sunscreen. If possible, limit your UV exposure during late morning through mid-afternoon.

UV Index = 8-10 (Very High)

Sun protection is now critical for even short periods of sun exposure. Additionally, indirect UV radiation becomes a greater threat, so beware of surfaces that reflect UV radiation, such as water and sand. Generously apply (and re-apply) sunscreen and wear UPF 50+ sun protection clothing, a wide-brimmed sun hat and sunglasses. And remember the “shadow rule!” If your shadow is shorter than you, which is typically near midday, you are exposed to even higher UV radiation levels.

UV Index = 11+ (Extreme)

Today’s gonna be a doozy! If possible, plan any outdoor activities for the morning or late afternoon to avoid the especially high levels of UV radiation around midday. Guard your skin with UPF 50+ apparel, sunglasses and a sun hat, and don’t even think about going outside without broad spectrum sunscreen.

Water reflecting UV rays

More Adventure. Less Exposure.

The Ultraviolet Index is not meant to scare you into staying indoors, but to help you go outdoors safely. If you make checking the UV Index part of your daily routine, you’ll stay one step ahead of sun damage.

To prepare for even the most extreme levels of UV radiation, protect yourself with UPF clothing from Rayward Apparel. Shop our Sun Bound collection of sun shirts now, featuring UPF 50+ t-shirts, long sleeve shirts and lightweight hoodies!

Source: EPA.gov

5 Things You Didn’t Know About Sun Protection

Sunny Pier for UPF Hats and Shirts

Proper sun protection is essential for making sure you enjoy your time outside. Otherwise, you risk ruining your day with skin damage and sunburn. With our UV-protective apparel and UPF hat styles, we try to keep sun safety simple. That being said, it’s still useful to know how sun damage happens to better understand sun protection. With that goal in mind, here are five things you may not know about sun protection:

1) Skin Damage Occurs Before Any Signs of Sunburn

If left unprotected, your skin can be damaged by as little as 10 minutes of unprotected sun exposure. Don’t be fooled into thinking that you are ok as long as you don’t see the signs of a sunburn. Even tan and darker skins that don’t redden are still damaged on a cellular level. Likewise, don’t rest easy at the sight of a “mild” sunburn. Even a light burn is bad and indicates damage to your skin, which ultimately increases your risk of permanent skin damage or even skin cancer. Play it safe and wear a UPF hat and sun shirt even for short periods of sun exposure.

2) The UV Index Shows the Strength of UV Rays Each Day

The first thing you should do on any day you plan on being in the sun is check the day’s UV Index. This is basically a measure of the strength of the sun’s UV rays on a given day, based on solar noon (between 10 AM – 4 PM). The UV Index ranges from 0-12. The higher the UV Index, the higher your risk of skin damage, and the faster you could burn. A UV Index of 3-7, for instance, indicates a “Medium to High” risk. An Index of 8-12 represents a “Very High to Extreme” risk. The higher the UV Index, the more critical your UPF hat and shirt become.

CLICK HERE to learn more about the UV Index, or watch this short video:

3) Many Surfaces Reflect UV Radiation

Did you know that ultraviolet radiation doesn’t just come directly from the sun? In fact, damaging UV rays also reflect off nearby surfaces. By now, most people know that water, snow and ice reflect UV rays, but did you know that sand, cement and even grass reflect enough UV rays to cause skin damage? This makes your UPF hat, UV apparel and broad spectrum sunscreen an important combination. Together they’ll help shield you from both direct and indirect (reflected) UV radiation.

4) Sun Protection is Essential for Every Skin Type & Color

It’s true that people with fairer skin are at a higher risk of sunburn and skin damage, but that doesn’t mean everyone else is off the hook. While some people are more susceptible to sunburn, anyone can get skin damage, sunburn or skin cancer. Whether your skin is black, white, or any shade in between, you need to protect it from UV damage. Start by wearing a UPF 50+ clothing and a UPF hat, followed by sunscreen on any remaining areas of exposed skin.

Woman Needs a UPF Hat on the Beach

5) UPF 50+ Apparel Is the Surest Form of Sun Protection

Sunscreen is essential for sun safety, but UPF apparel is a better bet for sun protection. As great as they are, sunscreens still have several drawbacks. They need to be applied thoroughly, and this needs to be done 30 minutes prior to sun exposure. Sunscreen also needs to be reapplied every 2 hours. Plus, and most confusing of all, sunscreen ingredient labels are hard to understand and it’s not clear what is safe for you or coral reefs. The surest sun protection comes from the simplest sun protection: UPF 50+ hats and shirts. UPF-rated apparel is always broad spectrum and doesn’t have any of sunscreen’s drawbacks mentioned above.

Now that you know even more about sun protection, we hope you’re feeling ready for “More Adventure & Less Exposure.” The next time you’re going to be in the sun, we recommend a UPF hat, sun shirt, sunglasses and sunscreen. To shop Rayward Apparel’s UV-protection clothing, visit our online store today.

Sources: World Health Organization; Skin Cancer Foundation

A New Way to Think About Sun Protection

Caribbean Beach for Sun Protection Hats

For many people, protection against UV damage starts and stops with sunscreen. This of course is both good and bad. It’s good if broad spectrum sunscreen is being used to prevent UV damage. It’s bad, however, if your sun protection plan relies exclusively (or even disproportionately) on sunscreens. If sunscreen isn’t enough by itself, what else should you rely on for your sun protection? The answer is simple and just requires a new way of thinking about sun protection. Keep reading to find out why UPF apparel, including men’s and women’s sun hats, should form the foundation of your sun protection.

Get Your Priorities Straight (and Wear a Sun Hat)

This isn’t a radical new approach to sun protection, but rather a realignment of how you prioritize the components of your sun protection. The most effective sun protection includes sunscreen, but uses it in support of more practical, cost-effective measures, such as UPF sun hats and UPF clothing. 

Here are some of the reasons your sun protection should start with UPF-rated UV clothing:

  • Sunscreen is expensive so UPF clothing and sun hats save you money in the long run.
  • UPF shirts and sun hats are always broad spectrum.
  • It’s easier to put on UV hats and sun shirts.
  • Sun apparel and hats are instantly UV-protective without the need to wait 30 minutes.
  • You don’t have to reapply UPF apparel and hats.
  • Unlike most sunscreens, UV clothing and sun hats don’t feel greasy or sticky.
  • UPF shirts and hats don’t have any odor.
  • UPF hats protect your hair better than sunscreen.
  • Sun-protective hats and shirts don’t contain reef-damaging ingredients.

The list goes on, but you get the idea. For all of the reasons mentioned above, Rayward Apparel creates lightweight UPF 50+ clothing. This is also why we’re launching our first men’s and women’s sun hats with UV protection. If you don’t already have UPF-rated sun clothing, or if you’re in need of something more comfortable, check out our store today!

Put On Your Imagination Caps (or Sun Hats)

For an illustration of how our UPF apparel could affect your sunscreen use, play out the following scenario. Imagine you’re protected with your sun hat and sun shirt. Now try to consider which areas of your skin could still be exposed. While doing this, keep in mind that UV radiation doesn’t just come from above. In fact, UV rays also reflect off certain surfaces, including water, sand, snow, ice and cement. Ok, how’s your sun protection?

If you’re wearing a long sleeve hooded UPF shirt, you’re probably only exposing your hands, neck and head. If you took our advice and are also wearing one of our women’s or men’s sun hats, then you are also helping protect your scalp, forehead and ears, and to a lesser extent your face and neck. Think about how much less sunscreen (and money) you’ll use to protect the rest of your body! Plus, you’ll save time for more fun with less time wasted rubbing on lotion.

Man That Needs a Sun Hat

Using this new way of thinking about sun protection, your planning starts with UPF sun clothing, including men’s and women’s sun hats. Now your sunscreen takes the role it always should have played: supporting UV-blocking fabrics which are more effective and less costly in the long run.

Rayward Apparel’s new men’s and women’s sun hats are available now, and make a great foundation for your new sun protection plans!

Bonus: Armed with your new mindset on sun protection, here’s something else to think about! Did you know that you can use the UV Index to find out which days present the highest risk for UV damage? Check out this short video to learn more about the UV Index:

When to Wear a Sun Hat

Sun Protection Hat for Women

Sun hats are a critical component of sun protection. When combined with UPF apparel and proper sunscreen application, you can virtually eliminate your exposure to UV damage. The key, however, is knowing when and how to protect yourself. Fortunately, when it comes to sun protection hats, the answer is simple: wear a sun hat as often as you can.

Not the answer you were looking for? Hear us out, and we’ll explain why you really should wear a sun protection hat all the time. Of course, we’re realistic and understand that you can’t always wear a hat. That being said, let’s identify when a sun protection hat is MOST important.

Most Important Day to Wear a Sun Hat

Before venturing out in the sun, be sure to check the Ultraviolet (UV) Index for the day. The UV Index measures the strength of the sun’s UV radiation on any particular day. UV Index values range from 0-12, with the higher number indicating a higher risk of UV damage. On days with a UV Index of 3-7, you have a “moderate to high” risk of UV damage and should wear a hat while also limiting your sun exposure, especially during midday hours. A UV Index of 8 or greater indicates a “very high to extreme” UV risk with the potential for skin damage in less than 15 minutes! In the U.S., many days fall within this highest risk range, and not only during the summer. Any time the UV Index is 8 or higher, sunscreen, UPF apparel and sun protection hats for women and men are essential.

To track the UV Index, we suggest bookmarking this site for easy access. You can also use the tool below to quickly lookup the UV index for a particular location. Try it now:

Most Important Time to Wear Your Sun Hat

The sun’s UV radiation varies throughout the day, with midday being the most intense. Depending on your location (and daylight savings), this midday “solar noon” window occurs between 10 AM and 4 PM. If you’re going to be outside for even 10 minutes during this window, it’s time to put hats on heads, in addition to broad spectrum sunscreen. During this midday period, the sun is at its strongest, and sun protection hats for men and women are non-negotiable. Choose one that’s lightweight and breathable and you’ll actually feel cooler, even when the day is hottest.

Sun Protection Hat for Golf

Most Important Activities for a Sun Protection Hat

The activities that most require sun protection hats for women and men are the activities that might require you to be outside on a day with a higher UV Index, or in the sun during the intense midday solar noon. Of course, this includes a huge range of activities, including sporting events, gardening, yardwork, fishing, running, concerts, festivals, barbecues, pool parties and so forth, but you get the idea.

It’s because this range of activities is so broad that Rayward Apparel is launching our first UPF sun protection hats for men and women. Made of UPF 50+ rated fabrics, our sun protection hats will keep you cool, comfortable and protected. Keep in mind that all sun protection hats must still be paired with broad spectrum sunscreen to ensure protection against indirect UV rays. Indirect sun damage can happen when the sun’s radiation bounces off of reflective surfaces, such as water, sand, cement, ice and snow.

Before you go, be sure to shop Rayward Apparel’s new UPF sun protection hats for men and women.

Bonus: To learn more about the UV Index, check out this informative video:

What Time Should You Avoid The Sun?

Palm Tree and Sunny Beach

A big part of sun safety and UV protection is planning. This includes planning based on the weather, the UV Index, your activity and the time of day. Plus, and perhaps most importantly, planning with the right protection, such as UPF clothing with UV protection. With good planning, however, you don’t ever have to avoid the sun. You do, however, need to be careful about when you’re most exposed. Continue below for guidance on when to limit your sun exposure, and how to defend yourself with UPF clothing.

The Weather and UV Exposure

The first thing to consider when planning to be sun safe is the weather. Keep in mind, of course, that looks can be deceiving, and weather can quickly change. For example, even cloudy days pose a risk for UV damage as UV rays penetrate through clouds. Also, cold weather, and even a snow day, can still create a high risk of sun damage. UV rays are persistent throughout all four seasons, so sun safety can’t take a holiday in the winter. Whatsmore, if you’ve ever been hiking, fishing or spent the day at the beach, you probably know that the weather one minute could be completely different in an hour. So the best weather planning is to plan for any weather with UPF clothing that works well in any condition, such as a long sleeve sun shirt.

Weather, Rainbow and Rain Forecast

The Ultraviolet Index and Sun Safety

The National Weather Service (NSS) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) together created an Ultraviolet Index. This UV index is used to measure the day’s forecasted levels of ultraviolet rays. This index goes from 0-11+ and should be checked prior to any prolonged outdoor activity, especially if you can’t avoid exposing your skin. 0-2 means low risks, but sun protection is still recommended. A UV Index rating of 3-7 indicates moderate to high risk, which demands carefully avoiding prolonged sun exposure, using sunscreen and covering up with UPF clothing as much as possible. Anything from 8+ represents a very high to extreme risk, and you should absolutely wear UPF 50+ sun protective clothing. Plus, all areas not covered by UPF clothing should be generously covered in broad spectrum sunscreen.

Activity-based Sun Safety

The next critical factor in planning ahead to ensure sun safety is in considering your expected activity. For instance, beach volleyball demands that you’re out in the sun, and you may not be able to wear a wide-brimmed sun protective hat. As a result, you need to plan ahead and use the shade when possible, and apply plenty of sunscreen to your face, head and neck. Also, make sure you apply your sunscreen 30 minutes in advance of being out in the sun. 

Time of Day and Sun Safety

One of the biggest factors in planning for sun exposure depends on the time of day. In most parts of the world, the sun is highest–and therefore the strongest–between the hours of 10 AM and 4 PM. A great tip for determining your sun risk is to look at your shadow. If your shadow is taller than you, then your risk is lower (but sun safety is still critical). On the other hand, if your shadow is shorter than you, then your risk is highest as the sun is more directly overhead. In these cases, you’re closer to midday and should seek shade or stay indoors. Unless, of course, you planned ahead with UPF clothing, like our Sun Bound collection, which is rated to block over 98% of UV rays.

Planning with UPF Clothing

Lastly, plan ahead with UPF 50+ sun protective clothing, like Rayward Apparel’s Sun Bound collection, and you don’t ever need to avoid the sun. Instead, you just need to be sun smart and prepared for anything. Rayward Apparel, we know the world revolves around the sun, but your life shouldn’t. Enjoy More Adventure, Less Exposure—no matter the weather, UV index, or time day—when you safely protect yourself with our lightweight UPF apparel.

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