Cloth vs. Cream: The Best Option in Sun Protection

The best two ways to prevent sun damage are to wear SPF protection creams and sun protection clothing. While it is important to take care not to expose skin to the sun all year round, in summer it is particularly important. Ultraviolet rays from the sun can cause serious damage, not only in the short term with sunburn, but in the long term as well. Sun exposure can cause skin cancer later in life, which can spread to other parts of the body and lead to death. UV damage can also accelerate skin aging, causing wrinkles, leathery skin and dark blotches. People of all skin colors can be affected by this damage. 

Wearing Sunscreen

Sunscreen is a cream that is spread over the skin to absorb or reflect the sun’s rays before they can damage it. It should be applied every two to four hours to any exposed areas of skin. The higher the SPF, the more radiation is required to burn your skin. So, for example, an SPF of 30 means that it would take 30 times the normal amount of radiation to burn your skin. However, this is only true if the sunscreen has been properly applied. Sunscreen should be SPF30 or higher. Sunscreens can block both UVA and UVB rays, and should be checked to ensure they provide this broad spectrum coverage.

Sunscreen is inexpensive and easy to apply and provides more protection than simply wearing an ordinary cotton shirt, which may let in up to 50% of the sun’s rays when dry and even more when wet. Sunscreen is also very versatile and can be applied to any part of the body without restricting it or heating it up.

Wearing Sun Protective Clothing

Ordinary clothes are made without concern about the sun’s rays, and summer clothing, in particular, can let a lot of UV radiation through to the skin. Sun protective clothing is made with this in mind and usually carries an SPF (or UPF) factor that is similar to sunscreen with SPF50+ being the best. Sun protective clothing is light and breathable and can be flung on without worrying about missing a spot or re-application. A hat can also create shade that will contain and protect more of the body. There are also brands of sunscreen that can be added to the wash to increase the protectiveness of ordinary clothes.

Sun Protective Clothing or Sunscreen?

Sunscreen does have some disadvantages, as often it cannot block UVA rays as effectively as UVB rays. And UVA rays are responsible for melanoma, one of the more deadly forms of skin cancer. Sunscreen is also easy to forget to reapply, or to apply poorly in the first place, which can lead to burns and skin damage. However, sun protective clothing is difficult to wear everywhere, such as in the water, or on your feet during summer. So, the best approach is a combination of the two methods.

The health and beauty of your skin can be severely damaged by the sun. Taking all possible precautions is important to ensuring your long-term health and safety while enjoying the sunlight.


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