Summer beach etiquette has gone from piling on baby oil and baking oneself until beet red to making every effort to block harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. Instead of making a painful, sunburnt sacrifice for beautiful bronze skin, smart beachgoers now cover up in protective, yet stylish, clothing. Ten years ago, sun safe beach garments were elusive items. Now companies produce safe outdoor swimwear that protects its wearers, while still turning heads.
Skin cancer is such a public health concern that the Surgeon General published the Call to Action to Prevent Skin Cancer. In the United States, most skin cancer diagnoses are preventable, yet commonly cause disfiguration, and sometimes death. At a cost of over three and a half billion dollars a year, Melanoma is responsible for most cancer related deaths and inflicts mostly teens and young adults. Among youth ages 17 to 23, physicians attribute most skin cancer diagnoses to UV rays. Additionally, children that suffer fewer sunburns are less likely to develop skin cancer later in life. Tightly woven garments, such as SPF swimwear, protects the skin from the sun’s rays.
What Is SPF Swimwear?
The sun emits both ultraviolet A and B rays, also called UVA and UVB rays, with both rays affecting skin differently. The rays embody the primary cause of sun related skin damage.
Unfortunately, protective beachwear from yesteryear fell short in the fashion department. Many protective beach garments lacked proper fit, hanging too loose or fitting too tight, leaving children – especially teens – opting for less effective sunscreen.
As society grows more perceptive about health issues, the “skin is in” adage loses traction. Today, beachwear manufacturers have learned to use more material woven into aesthetically pleasing designs. While not realistically available as a two-piece bikini, sun safe garments still provide a degree of elegance. The pieces do come in various cuts, such as:
- One-piece suits
- Rash guard shirts
- Swimming shorts
- Swimming trunks
More importantly, contemporary SPF swimwear provides substantial UVA and UVB protection whether you spend the day on the sand or in the water. Chic sunglasses and protective hats work with the pieces to provide additional land side protection. It is, however, important that you understand what makes SPF swimwear safe to avoid buying outfits that look good but little protection beyond the label, and while protection reigns supreme, savvy swimwear designers realize that Moms and Dads want the family to look stylish as well.
Physicians recommend 15 SPF sunscreen or higher. The problem with this recommendation is that researchers assume sunbathers wear a 15-micron layer of protectant versus the 7-micron layer normally applied by beachgoers. Additionally, sunscreen typically degrades when exposed to moisture. This obviously makes sunscreen somewhat ineffective, especially for kids who spend most beach time in the water. As a result, SPF swimwear has grown in popularity.
Although manufacturers score sun safe clothing using ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) ratings, the sun protective factor (SPF) rating – adopted from sunscreen effectiveness scores – still resonates with retailers and health conscious consumers. Manufacturers design SPF swimwear with extra-tight weaving that blocks harmful UV rays. A safe UPF rating is 50 or higher. Swimwear retailers may also post the SPF rating, which is safe at 30 SPF or higher.
A buyers motivations for choosing swimwear could run the gamut of reason. Some buyers choose SPF swimwear to fend off wrinkles caused by excessive exposure to ultraviolet rays, while others require added protection after receiving skin cancer diagnoses, while others do it for the simple reason of protecting the ones they love. Heck, stylists do such a good job at designing today’s pieces that some beachgoers buy protective beachwear simply because it looks good. Whatever the reason for you, you can now rest easily this knowing that you can get the best in protection AND look as good as anyone else...so make a statement of safety and style this year with the newest generation of SPF swimwear.
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