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How to protect against solar radiations

Updated on June 16, 2011

In the last decade it was determined a sharp increase in sun burn, skin disease and particularly skin cancer as a result of exposure to the sun.

Sun protection requires from you to keep in mind three important aspects: clothes, sunglasses and sunscreens. In the following I will analyze each one of those aspects:

Clothes:

In order to obtain optimal protection against solar radiation you should try to apply several basic rules when you select your outfit:

- Always wear a hat – ideally this should have a wide brim of at least three inches to protect sensible areas – your face, neck and ears.

- Polyester is better then cotton in deflecting solar radiation.

- Dark colours are better then light colours.

- Tight weaves are better then loose weaves.

If you want to be more protected you should take in consideration the fact that even since 1994 was developed a system of measurement of protection that clothes can provide against sun radiation, called UPF rating. This looks like this:


UPF Rating
Protection Category 
% UV radiation Blocked 
UPF 15 - 24 
Good 
93.3 - 95.9 
UPF 25 - 39 
Very Good 
96.0 - 97.4 
 UPF 40 - 49
Excellent 
97.5 or more 
UPF50+
Ultimate in UV Sun Protection
99

More and more fabric manufacturers provide information about UPF rating of your clothes. Obviously for maximum protection you should seek those rated 50+. Here are some examples of clothes rated in this category:

Sunglasses:

The most important factor when you choose your sunglasses should be related to their capacity to deflect UV light. As a basic rule you should look for sunglasses that block 99% or 100% of all UV light. Some manufacturers’ labels say “UV absorption up to 400nm.” This is the same thing as 100% UV absorption. Couple of sunglasses rated in this category here:

Sunscreen:

We all know the basics about sunscreen. The problem is how to use the sunscreen and what sunscreen is better to use. First of all, most important thing you should know when you buy a sunscreen is the SPF (sun protection factor). This is available between 2 and 60. Usually you should use a sunscreen with a greater SPF according to your skin type. However, as a general rule, you should use a sunscreen with a factor at least 15 in order to provide a good protection.

Another important thing is that there are two kinds of solar radiation UVA and UVB. Most sunscreens protect the skin against UBV radiation leaving the skin exposed to UVA radiation. There are several types of sunscreen that protects against both types of solar radiation. The only one approved by FDA is Mexoryl FX, found in Anthelios FX Formula.  You can find this product here: 

 

More information about Mexoryl you can find here:

http://www.anthelios.com/anthelios-aboutmexoryl.html

Other important facts about sun exposure and sun protection:

Sun rays are strongest between 10 am and 4 pm. Sun rays are stronger at higher elevations (mountains) and lower latitudes.

The water and snow reflects solar rays, thus enhancing their action to the skin.

The strength of solar radiation is measured using an index called UV index. The scale of this index is from 1 to 15, basic rule being that above 8 you should avoid sun exposure and between 5 to 8 you should expose carefully. Here is a site that provides this information daily for US.

http://www.epa.gov/sunwise/uvindex.html

Sunscreens should be applied 15 to 30 minutes before exposure, followed by one reapplication 15 to 30 minutes after the sun exposure begins. You should reapply sunscreen after each swimming round.

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