Sun Protection: Why It Is So Important
The sun is one of the most impressive forces in our corner of the universe. As life-giving as it is — and completely necessary for our survival — it can also be dangerous and destructive.
Over the past few decades, our sun safety awareness has increased dramatically. It’s clearer now than ever before how dangerous overexposure to UV rays can be, with risks of cancer, premature aging, and sunburn.
Thankfully, our ability to combat UV exposure has increased also. In addition to basic awareness and preventative measures like sunscreen with broad-spectrum protection, we’re also coming up with new technologies and infrastructures to reduce UV exposure to our skin in our day-to-day lives — without having to stay indoors all the time.
Today, our Tasc Performance guide is all about sun protection. Let’s get started!
Why Does UV Protection Matter?
The dangers of the sun seem obvious on bright, sunny days. Did you know that UV radiation can be almost just as harmful on cloudy days too? Prolonged exposure can be problematic even on days with a low UV index.
In fact, the sun’s rays are so powerful they even penetrate our clothing. Sunscreen is a great first line of defense, but more and more people are wearing long sleeve shirts and additional layers around their bodies to protect their skin through the summer and beyond.
So why all the fuss? We know UV rays can be beneficial to our skin, even essential. We would struggle to survive without sunlight exposure, even just for the Vitamin D it provides. In excess, however, UV rays can damage our body, skin, face, and even our eyes.
There are two kinds of UV (ultraviolet) radiation from the sun that can be harmful.
- UVA rays, which relate to skin aging and similar effects, come in longer waves than UVB rays
- UVB rays, which cause sunburn
Both types of rays contribute to cancer formation, though UVB rays are generally more prominent in this regard.
Reduce Your Risk of Skin Cancer
The science is clear: UV radiation is a carcinogen for humans, meaning it is capable of causing cancer.
Many different types of cancer are associated to some degree with sun exposure. Some of these cancers, such as BCC (basal cell carcinoma) and SCC (squamous cell carcinoma), are typically treatable if caught early. Others, such as melanoma, can be significantly more dangerous.
An important factor to remember is that UV radiation's cancer threat increases over time. You aren’t only in danger when you spend 12 hours straight in the sun. Shorter bursts of exposure in higher frequencies can be just as harmful, especially if you’re unprotected.
Consulting your dermatologist is a good way to analyze your skin’s health, but nothing replaces proactive sun protection efforts.
Sunburn is the most immediate and obvious sign of skin damage. UVB rays are strongly associated with causing sunburn but can also contribute to longer-lasting damage.
Most people have experienced sunburn at least once in their life and know just how unpleasant it can be. The signs include inflamed, warm, sensitive, itchy, and often discolored skin. Sometimes sunburnt areas swell and develop blisters, too.
It’s also a common experience to see one’s body at work healing sunburn. The skin typically begins to peel around affected areas after a few days, and discoloration eventually fades.
Even though our bodies can repair UV exposure damage, they can only do so to a limited degree. The more our skin is harmed, the more the unrepaired sun damage adds up.
Reduce Dryness and Itchy Skin
Sunburn isn’t the only sun-related cause of superficial skin problems. Dry skin is a common effect of direct sun exposure, especially when unprotected. Dry skin after sun exposure is a good sign that you should seek better sun protection and limit how you’re spending time in the sun with exposed skin.
Itchy skin is another common effect that immediately tells us we’re getting a bit too much UV exposure. Most often, this itchiness is the result of sun allergies.
Avoid Dark Spots and Hyperpigmentation
Dark spots and hyperpigmentation are more common than you might think, but they aren’t always caused by sun exposure.
Many factors can lead to these erratic skin color changes. Thankfully, hyperpigmentation isn’t always dangerous. Still, we should start thinking about better sun protection immediately when it is caused by sun exposure.
How Do You Protect Yourself From the Sun?
Here at Tasc Performance, we love active, outdoor lifestyles, so we certainly aren’t going to just stay inside all day. With the right sun protection, we can still enjoy walks in the park, cookouts on the weekend, yoga on the beach, and a workout in the yard.
Sunscreen, sun-protective clothing, and responsible habits surrounding your sun-exposed activities are all important tools in the fight to stay safe.
Wear UPF 50+ Clothing
Ultraviolet protection factor, or sun protection factor, is a measure of how well clothing protects your skin from the sun. You may think of sunscreen as your first line of defense against the sun, but make no mistake that protective clothing is just as important. Wide brim hats, long pants, and more can all provide protection from the sun’s UV rays.
UPF 30-50 rated clothes offer great protection against the sun, but materials with UPF 50+ rating like bamboo are the best of the best. Bamboo, our favorite fabric here at Tasc Performance, blocks a whopping 98% of harmful UV light.
Keep in mind that UPF isn’t directly comparable to SPF. UPF 15, UPF 30, or UPF 50 isn’t the same as SPF 15, SPF 30, or SPF 50.
Wear Sunscreen Daily
Wearing sunscreen is the protective measure that gets the most media attention, and it is doubtless important. While you’re tanning at the beach, you aren’t going to be wearing clothes, so your last line of defense is the sunscreen you rub or spray on your body.
Choosing an appropriate titanium dioxide or zinc oxide SPF is a good start (the higher, the better), but ensuring you select a broad-spectrum sunscreen is also important, ensuring you get protection against both UVA rays and UVB rays.
Water-resistant sunscreens are also popular for swimming activities, although some sunscreens (and suntan lotions) contain chemicals that harm the environment. Swimming in sun protection clothing made from sustainable materials that don’t include microplastics could be a better, more eco-friendly alternative.
Protect Your Head With a Hat
We often wear hats for little more than fashion today. Still, their original purpose — protection from the elements — is as viable as ever! If you’re planning to spend some time in the sun, consider adding a hat to your outfit.
Wide-brimmed hats offer the most shade, but even something as simple as a baseball cap, like our Tasc Signature Logo Hat, can help protect your eyes (which are vulnerable to cataracts and other types of damage caused by the sun).
Avoid Direct Sun Exposure When You Can
At the end of the day, our lives are bound to bring us some sunshine, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be smart about it. If you can be intentional about monitoring and mitigating your direct sun exposure, you’re much safer for it.
The Bottom Line
As great as the sun can be, it’s also dangerous. With our Tasc Performance bamboo-organic cotton styles, top-notch sun protection is always on hand, along with other performance factors like breathability, moisture-wicking, odor resistance, and more.
For sustainable, sun-protective styles, try our Carrollton Long-Sleeve Fitness Shirt or our Allways Long Sleeve T-Shirt. For all things active lifestyle and fashion, stick around at our Tasc Performance blog!