Sun Protection for Yourself and Your Children

By Meg Sperring

Research has shown that overexposure to the sun's rays is dangerous to human skin. Children are particularly vulnerable as their skin is a delicate growing organ. The best way to avoid damage to the skin is with sun protective clothing such as shirts and hats, supplemented by the use of quality sunscreen. Although you need a limited amount of exposure to the sun to prevent Vitamin D deficiency, if you and your children are outdoors a lot during the summer you need protection. Sun exposure doesn't just occur on a visit to the beach, but takes place during outdoor sports and even working in the garden at home.

Clothing made with organic, eco-friendly fabric has a number of characteristics that are great when used as sun protection:

  • Such clothing is often soft, comfortable, and breathes well in the heat.
  • If the material has a tight weave it may help to block over 90 percent of the harmful rays of the sun.
  • Eco-friendly fabric often has excellent moisture absorbing properties that keep your body dry when you perspire.

Interestingly, dark-colored clothing in general is more effective in blocking the sun's harmful rays than apparel made with light-toned material. Obviously, thicker, more tightly woven fabrics will protect your skin better, but if the fabric gets wet, it may lose some of its protective abilities. Some clothes now carry an Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF); the higher the rating, the better protection the clothing offers from the sun.

Hats also help protect you from the sun. Schools in various parts of the world often encourage children to don hats during recess or when playing sport, and it is important that babies and toddlers also wear them when out in the sun. The fashion world has embraced hats and there are many styles of sun hats are available for men and women.

Another very effective protection from the sun is, of course, sunscreen. Experts advise that sunscreen should be worn all year round, even when it is cloudy. It should be reapplied after you've swum or if you're sweating heavily. Sunscreen contains titanium dioxide, which helps to block the absorption of ultraviolet (UV) rays of the sun. The amount of titanium dioxide in sunscreen determines its Sun Protection Factor (SPF). Another ingredient in sunscreen is zinc oxide. This mineral is ideal for use in sunscreen as it reflects light and ultraviolet rays, and it is water-resistant so it doesn’t wash off easily when you're swimming or undertaking strenuous exercise.

Our skin is precious; we need to make sure that we protect it well with sun protective clothing and sunscreen. In addition, our children will thank us later in life if we make sure that their delicate skin is well looked after.