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Sun Block Fabrics Are the New Sunscreen

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In this day and age, people are more aware of the sun and its damaging effects to our skin. The sunscreen industry is making billions of dollars a year counting on this very thing. However we do have another option than sunscreen lotions. Think about sun protective fabric. There are new products on the market which can save money and your health using fabrics for garments we all wear every day.

Here are some answers to questions about sun protection fabrics:

What makes a sun protection fabric?

All fabrics offer sun protection to some extent. UV rays break down in direct sunlight. Some of the rays are reflected to other areas, others convert to heat, and the rest land on your skin. For instance a T shirt made of light cotton fabric (UPF 5-8) offers only 20% protection from harmful UV rays. Whereas a UPF 50 sun protection shirt will only let in 2% of the UV harmful rays. Keep in mind the shirts only protect the areas covered by them, the rest is up to you.

What are the benefits of UV protection clothing?

- Unlike lotions which have to be applied 20 minutes before going outside, UV protection fabrics start working immediately.
- No more excessive chemicals on your skin for temporary protection. UV blocking fabrics are non-greasy, less expensive in the long run, non-sticky and doesn't disappear when you perspire.

What are the chemicals used for UV protection clothing?

- Mostly zinc oxide (the main ingredient in most sunscreen) is used directly into the dying phase. This process will not wash or wear out.

There are new products on the market which use treatments on the fabric when it's made to add protection. Think about the following when buying UV protection garments:

- Density is key- The denser the weave or knot the more UV protection.
- Fabric type distinguishes the UV filter - Bamboo blocks up to 98 percent of harmful UV radiation. Man-made fabrics like polyester and Lycra are second because they interrupt the amount of light entering. Still good are nylon, wool and silk. Cotton and hemp offer very little UV protection.
- The fabric dyes used - The more dye used; the more opaque the garment will be thus blocking more UV rays.
- Chemicals - Some companies use chemicals for softening the fabrics or helping them to stay in shape. These chemicals are also seen as colorless dyes, and these get imbedded in the fabric offering some UV protection.
- Wetness - Water logged clothes let in a lot of UV rays into the fabric.

Summer is coming and with skin cancer rates rising, people are more apt to apply plenty of sunscreen. Environmentalists and scientists alike have been warning about the strength of the sun on our skin and its negative effects. These effects lead to early aging and skin cancer. Sales of sunscreen have soared over the past 10 years, with everyone from the very young to the very old applying the milky paste. With the limitations of liquid sunscreen, we are being told to apply liberally every 3-4 hours in order to retain its strength of coverage. Have you ever tried to accomplish this? I have, and it takes time, energy and a lot of product to follow the instructions on the bottle to its full potential, especially on the face. Apply the product, then makeup, a few hours later repeat, and so on. I have decided that this summer it will be the year of the hat for me. I never want to go through what I have in the past in order to retain my girlish looks, it's exhausting, and life should be fun.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: PAT MUNRO
Visit http://www.janestaffordtextiles.com/ for yarns, patterns and retreats.

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