When the subject is sun protection, many of us may automatically think of sunscreen. Sadly, sunscreen does not provide the protective bubble we once thought, allowing us to cavort in the sun from dawn to dusk without having to worry about sunburn or skin cancer.
While sunscreen offers some protection, it's spottier than we first realized. Most protect against UVB rays but many don't touch the UVAs. Always choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen to defend against both UVA and UVB.
There are questions about the chemicals in many kinds of sunscreens. We're using sunscreen to avoid cancer not to possibly find later that we set ourselves up for it. So, whether these issues are for sure or just questions in the air, some folks don't want to put all their eggs in the sunscreen basket when it comes to protection.
Many of the good old-fashioned tricks are still effective. Wear a hat and protective clothing. Put on sunglasses. Sit in the shade. Avoid the hours of peak heat.
A hat should have a brim of 2 to 4 inches all the way around to shade your ears, eyes, forehead and nose. You want a tightly woven material like canvas to protect the scalp.
Then there's the shade cap, which is like a baseball cap with a curtain. About half a foot of material drapes the sides and back, covering your neck.
A straw hat, however, is like a screendoor on a submarine. Too many open spaces for sunlight to stream through. If you can see through it, the sun will come through it too.
Long sleeves and long pants provide a barrier between you and the sun's rays. Some children's bathing suits are now coming out that cover from neck to knees.
Dark colors are best. Lustrous clothing is more effective than cotton.
You can buy clothes that are coated in various ways to protect against UV radiation. They're labeled with a UPF number, indicating their ultraviolet protection factor.
You can buy products to put in the washer to buff up the UPF value for your clothes without affecting the color or feel of the clothes.
Sunglasses should block out 99 to 100 percent of UVA and UVB rays.