Is there really such a thing as “sun-protective clothing?” If so, does it mean I can dispense with oily sunscreens once and for all?
—John Sugarman, San Diego, CA
While there will always be a place for high-quality sunscreen on body parts exposed to the sun, covering up elsewhere—ideally with clothing designed to absorb or shield the sun”s damaging ultraviolet (UV) radiation—can minimize a person”s skin cancer risk significantly.
With recent news about the inadequacy of many sunscreens—the nonprofit Environmental Working Group found that four out of five name brand sunscreens offer inadequate protection from the sun or contain potentially carcinogenic ingredients—covering up instead of smearing is looking better and better to many people. A handful of clothing manufacturers are responding to the increased demand for shirts, pants, dresses and hats bearing “SPF” (sun protection factor) ratings with stylish sun-protective duds.
The granddaddy of them all just might be Sun Precautions Inc., which was started 15 years ago by avid downhill ski racer and outdoors enthusiast Shaun Hughes after he was diagnosed with skin cancer at age 26. The company”s Solumbra line of sun-protective casual and outdoors clothing blocks upwards of 97 percent of all UVA and UVB radiation it encounters, and is recommended by thousands of dermatologists.