Sun Protection

Sun protection is really all about limiting your exposure to UV rays in order to minimize your chance of sunburn, skin cancer, and eye damage. How you choose to protect yourself will depend on the activity you are doing, you're personal preferences, and UV levels at the time, but here are the basic four options:

Sun Protection Options:
Staying in the Shade
Cover up with UV Protective Clothing & Swimwear
Wearing UV Protective Sunglasses
Using Broad Spectrum Sunscreen

Staying in the Shade

Staying in the shade is the best Sun protection you can get and sometimes it's the smartest option when UV levels are extreme. Keep in mind though that whilst shade reduces UV by more than 50%, it does not give total protection. If you are in the shade but close to a reflective surface, such as a swimming pool or white plastic outdoor table, you may still be exposed to UV rays that bounce off these surfaces. As a general rule of thumb, anything that causes a glare in the Sun (e.g. snow, water, white surfaces) has the potential to increase your UV exposure by reflecting and scattering radiation from any direction - including beneath you.

Parasols, Umbrellas, and Beach Tents These are all about providing shade. The materials used in these products are designed to block 100% of direct UV radiation, making it safer to relax underneath them and enjoy the outdoors. There is still the risk from UV reflected off other surrounding surfaces, like water for example, so keep this in mind if you are beside a pool.

Cover up with UV Protective Clothing & Swimwear

UV protective clothing, hats, and swimwear is a good way to protect your skin and, unlike sun lotions, it doesn't wear off or need to be re-applied. Certain fabrics, colors and styles are better at blocking UV radiation than others. UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) is the amount of sun blocked by fabric.

Loose-fitting designs tends to give better protection against UV. High-collared t-shirts can be flipped up to protect your neck. Long sleeved tops help to protect your arms. Shorts or skirts that come to the knee.

Close-woven fabrics give the best UV protection. Less UV passes through tightly woven or knitted fabrics. Cotton and linen fabrics provide good protection. Heavier weight fabrics usually block more UV radiation than lighter fabrics of the same type.

Darker colours give more protection from UV. But sometimes you'll take them off to avoid being uncomfortable because they usually absorb more heat. Choose colours that you'll keep on.

Hats are very important in proper Sun protection as the face, neck and ears are common sites for skin cancer. Hats can provide excellent protection for your face, eyes, nose, lips, ears, neck, and even shoulders if the hat creates enough shade. The type of hat you choose will determine the level of protection you get. Make sure the hat is broad-brimmed and tightly-woven.
If you work outdoors and wear a hard hat or helmet, wear a neck flap with your hat. Baseball caps and loosely woven straw hats offer very little protection.

Arm Protectors
Very useful for cyclists, fishermen, golfers, gardeners, or those long Summer drives in the Sun, especially if you like having one arm resting on the window ledge! Arm protectors fit snuggly around the arm from the hand up to the bicep area and stop uv damage.

Wearing UV Protective Sunglasses

Sunglasses are a great fashion accessory, they are also an easy way to prevent cataracts, eye cancer, and snow blindness. Some sunglasses offer better UV protection than others depending on the materials used, their shape, and fit. Because snow, water and higher altitude can dramatically increase UV strength and exposure, good quality well fitting UV-protective eye wear are especially essential if you are skiing, hiking, sailing, fishing or doing anything near water, snow or at higher altitudes.

Lens Color
You cannot tell how much UV radiation a pair of sunglasses will block based on the color or darkness of the lenses. The darkness of the lens does not indicate its ability to shield your eyes from UV rays and many sunglasses with light-colored tints, such as green or amber, offer the same UV protection as very dark lenses.

Large, wrap-around style frames may provide more efficient UV protection because they cover the entire eye-socket and block UV rays from sneaking in from the side or from below when reflected off of surfaces such as water or snow. This is especially important when doing activities around or on water or snow because UV is reflected from all directions off of the these surfaces.

Check the Label
Always check the sunglasses label to make sure they protect against UV-A and UV-B. The closer to 100% protection a pair of sunglasses provide, the safer your eyes will be from damage.

Using Broad Spectrum Sunscreen

If you plan to be in the Sun then a good quality sunscreen should give you the protection you need. Sunscreen products come in all different formulations, but in terms of UV protection all you need to know is how well a product will block UVA AND UVB radiation. When a product blocks both UVA and UVB it is referred to as having 'broad spectrum' protection. Products marked only with an SPF value are only telling you how much UVB they block, and may leave you fully at risk of UVA exposure. There's a whole lot more to know so drop over to our sunscreen section for more information.

Water Sports

Sometimes being in the water can cool us down, giving the illusion that the Sun isn't that strong. Although you may not realize it, the opposite can be the case. Reflection and scattering of UV rays off water can increase UV exposure by 25%. Even underneath the water UV rays are still a health risk and Sun protection is required. Although reduced in strength, the radiation at half a meter under water is about 40% of that on the surface. Many first time snorkelers find this out the hard way.

For some water sports like fishing or sailing it may be possible to wear a hat and sunglasses, but for other sports like surfing this may not be practical. Rash vests and UV protective swimwear are a great way to protect your body in the water. Alternatively, using a good waterproof sunscreen will help protect exposed skin. UV protective swim goggles will prevent UV rays from damaging the eyes, which is great for kids who spend countless hours splashing about.

Does being under the water give protection from UV rays?

The short answer is no, and the long answer is it depends. When UV rays reach water some of the radiation is reflected away by the water's surface while some rays penetrate underneath the water. The amount of radiation that penetrates the water and what risk you are at depends on a combination of factors such as UV levels at the time, water clarity, how high the Sun is in the sky, the surface at the bottom of the water, the depth of the water, and how far under water you are. There are other factors which come into play, but we feel these are the most relevant, so here's a bit more info on each one.

Water Clarity
Heavily sedimented water such a murky lake or river will block more UV rays than crystal clear water. Generally speaking the clearer the water is the more radiation will pass through. Transparent water, like what you get in a swimming pool or clear ocean, allows more radiation to pass through it, meaning you are still being exposed to UV rays.

Angle of the Sun
The more directly overhead the Sun is the more UV rays will get through the water. As the Sun sits lower in the sky a smaller percentage of the radiation reaching the water will penetrate the surface.

Water Depth & Base Reflection
In shallower water more UV can be reflected back up from the bottom than in deep water. For example a shallow kids play pool with a white reflective bottom material will reflect a lot more UV rays back up from its base than an ocean floor covered in dark seaweed underneath 10 feet of water.

How far Under Water You Go
The deeper under water you go the less of a danger UV becomes. Although this doesn't happen until quite some depth. In fact, even at one and a half feet under water you will still be exposed to about forty percent of surface radiation.

Skiing & Mountain Sports

Whether done in Summer or Winter, skiers and other high altitude enthusiasts are particularly at risk from severe UV exposure to the face and eyes if proper protection is not used. This is because at higher altitudes UV is stronger as there is less atmosphere to filter it, UV increases by 4% for every 300 meters in altitude. Also snow acts like a mirror to UV, increasing overall exposure by up to 80%.

The problem of UV at higher altitudes and its damaging effects on the eyes is so common that it even has a name 'snow blindness'. Although usually no permanent damage is done, snow blindness is quite painful, and can feel like there are lots of grains of sand stuck under your eyelids. You can easily avoid this discomfort by wearing proper UV protective goggles or sunglasses that wrap around, covering your entire eye socket.

Protecting Babies & Kids

Sun protection from a young age is important. Damage to skin from unprotected UV exposure builds up year after year, so the exposure we get during childhood increases our chances of skin cancer later in life. UV exposure during childhood and adolescence appears to set the stage for the development of both melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers in later life.

Check the hourly UV levels on days when the kids will be outdoors and if the UV Index is Very High or Extreme 'try' to get them to play in the shade, if that fails, smother them in sunscreen.

What's the Best Stroller Cover for UV Protection?

When choosing a stroller cover many parents wonder which color will offer the best UV protection for their baby. In general darker colored fabrics are better at blocking UV rays than lighter ones. So a dark blue, green, or black would be better than yellow or white.

More important than color though is what material the cover is made of and what UPF it has, if any. UPF stands for "Ultraviolet Protection Factor" and will tell you how just much UVA and UVB rays the material will block. Higher UPF values indicate better UV protection. As UPF 50+ is the highest UPF available it will provide the maximum Sun protection for your child.

When fabrics get wet they can loose much of their UV protective qualities, a liquid repellent cover will have the added benefit of maintaining a higher UPF if it gets wet. Over time natural wear and tear along with many washes may reduce a material's UPF, water resistance, and stretch the fabric, so a cover that has been around for a few years may not provide the same level of protection as a newer one.

So to bring all this together, the best stroller cover will have an UPF value of 50+, have a dark colored tightly woven fabric, and be water repellent. If you have trouble finding one in your area that ticks all these boxes or are pushed for time, like most parents are, try searching online or ask in your favorite forum, no doubt someone will have good advice on where you can pick one up.

Here's a handy checklist for choosing a stroller cover:
High UPF value (50+)
Dark color
Water repellent
Tightly woven fabric

Medication & Increased Risk

-The use of anti-depressants, birth control medication, and antibiotics can act to increase your risk from UV exposure, so extra protection is needed if you are using any of these medications. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice.

-Perfumes and deodorants can also sensitize your skin, causing serious burns in the sun. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice.