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Thankful for the Chance to Spread an Important Message

Duane Braswell is a recent skin cancer survivor whom is thankful for many things this holiday season. After being diagnosed with both basal cell carcinoma and melanoma in August 2011 and having his cancer cells successfully excised, he came to the conclusion that there is not enough awareness around the dangers of skin cancer. With the support of his family, friends and outside donors, Duane has arranged to complete a 2,500 mile bike circuit starting in Phoenix, AZ and ending in Washington, DC to raise awareness and money for skin cancer research.

Duane’s story:

I was diagnosed in August 2011 with several basal cell carcinoma cancers and melanoma. What a shock to hear the word “cancer” and your name in the same sentence! This is something everyone knows can happen, but we never expect it will happen to us.

Prior to the cancer I only wore a hat and sunscreen if I remembered or thought I would be outside for an extended period of time. When we were  kids, we just dealt with sunburns and didn’t think twice about it. After all of the cancerous cells were cut out in mid-October, I now wear my hat almost everywhere I go – plus it looks good anyway!

The biggest hit was realizing that even though I made my family a priority over my career, I still did not realize how fragile life is and how precious my time with my family is. The hardest thing was looking at my kids and thinking I might not be there for their children or even my youngest child’s graduation. I had never considered these things before my diagnosis, when I was ignoring my mole and ‘spots.’

Now, I am looking forward to spending five weeks with my son going cross country and showing him how great people are to visit and talk with. We leave May 13, 2012 from Phoenix and will arrive in Washington DC at the Melanoma Research Foundation (MRF) center by the end of June. We will be traveling 2,500 miles; enjoying our time together and sharing with others the importance of covering up in the sun and wearing a hat. We hope to raise $10,000 for the MRF through exposure on TV, radio as well as the internet. Both my son and I want to hear someone went and got checked for skin cancer because we talked to them.

After the ‘cancer’ scare, my oldest daughter had two moles removed when visiting the dermatologist. She told me it would be foolish to miss out on life because of something so small. Hers moles were VERY early and required no stitches. Mine were nearly too late and required over 60 stitches that we could count. It is so easy to prevent skin cancer, and so costly if we do not.

– Duane Braswell

P.S. My doctor recommended your products to me and I really love them.

Check back in May for a trip update!

Duane posing in his Coolibar gear with the bike that will be accompanying him on a 2,500 mile ride to raise funds for melanoma research
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Expert Rx Sun Protection Clothing Videos

“The Doctors” on Basal Cell Carcinoma and Prevention

On Tuesday, October 24, 2011, “The Doctors” TV show aired a segment nationwide about a new skin cancer treatment for basal cell carcinoma, the most common form of skin cancer. This treatment option uses low doses of radiation on a targeted area to kill the cancer cells, going no deeper than the skin. Only a few dermatologists are offering this non-surgical treatment for basal cell carcinoma opposed to micrographic surgery, the current standard for treatment, which can take hours to perform.

Seth Forman, M.D. practices dermatology in Tampa, FL and demonstrated the procedure on his patient Betty for the show. From patient Betty’s perspective, the treatment is like having an x-ray – it’s painless and over within 45 seconds. She will need multiple treatments to destroy her cancer – 12 times over a 4 week span.  There are no shots, no blades, no bleeding, no stitches, not even a band-aid.

Watch the “Low Dose Radiation Treatment” segment from “The Doctors.”

To find out more about low dose radiation and other treatment options for basal cell carcinoma, visit http://www.skincancer.org/bcc-treatment-options.html.

Dr. Drew Ordon, an expert on “The Doctors”, also took advantage of the opportunity to talk about prevention.  His advice:

1) Try to avoid daytime sunlight, between the hours of 10-4 avoid mid-day sun.

2) Sunscreen, Sunscreen, Sunscreen – at least SPF 15, we recommend [broad-spectrum] SPF 30 and to be generous with application using a shot glass full and re-apply every two hours.

Finally what you can do is…

3) Wear protective clothing – UPF 50+, it blocks both UVA and UVB rays and is a great way to go because you can’t get sunscreen everywhere.

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Inside Coolibar Sun Protection Clothing

It’s All in the Fabric – Coolibar SUNTECT

The most common question we get from first time customers at Coolibar is “how does your clothing protect against the sun’s UV rays?” The answer is quite simple – it’s all in the fabric!

Our SUNTECT® fabrics are rated UPF 50+ meaning they block 98% of harmful UVA and UVB rays and provide protection in one of two ways: 1) A broad-spectrum sunscreen ingredient, either zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, is permanently embedded into the fibers during the manufacturing process. These sunscreen ingredients reflect UV, so UVA and UVB rays bounce off the garment. 2) Tight-weave construction prevents UVA and UVB rays from penetrating the garment.

Each SUNTECT® fabric has unique qualities to suite a variety of outdoor lifestyles. The fabric type can be found on each individual item page on Coolibar.com under the “Fabric Details” tab. Here are our most popular SUNTECT® fabrics:

3D dri SUNTECT® – Stay cool when the sun heats up.
(The Sunblock Hoodie pictured above is made with this fabric. Click on the picture, zoom in, and you’ll see the texture!)

Description: A visible tiny surface grid pattern lifts the fabric off skin providing cooling comfort.
Sun protection source: embedded titanium dioxide
Features: lightweight, breathable, moisture-wicking, soft
Activities: hiking, jogging, walking, beach bumming, boating, high-heat activity, traveling
Content: 100% Polyester
Care instructions: Machine wash, tumble dry

ZnO SUNTECT® – Dress in the comfort of everyday cotton.

Description: Millions of tiny particles of zinc oxide are woven into every fiber for sun protection that cannot wash or wear out.
Sun protection source: embedded zinc oxide
Features: soft cotton feel, lightweight, cool, antimicrobial properties reduce rash and body odors
Activities: everyday, casual, camping, walking, hiking, gardening, biking, traveling
Content: 70% cotton, 25% viscose from bamboo, 5% spandex (exception: grey color)
Care Instructions: Machine wash, tumble dry

aire SUNTECT® – Slip-on silky feminine coverage for work or play.

Description: Feather-light, with a luxurious feel, this fabric is so soft, airy and cool, no one will ever guess it provides maximum sun protection.
Sun protection source: tight weave construction
Features: silk like feel, lightweight, fast-drying, moisture-wicking, naturally wrinkle resistant
Activities: working, farming, gardening, traveling, beach bumming, boating, picnicking
Content: 86% polyester, 14% spandex
Care Instructions: Machine wash, tumble dry

aqua SUNTECT® – Dive in with quick-dry UV gear made for water or workouts

Description: Much lighter weight than typical swimwear, it’s extremely water friendly and comfortable enough to wear even in the hottest weather.
Sun protection source: tight weave construction
Features: chlorine and salt water resistant, retains shape, doesn’t cling, quick-drying, durable
Activities: swimming, surfing, boating, waterskiing, wakeboarding, running, biking
Content: polyester/lycra blend or polyester/spandex blend or nylon/spandex blend (check item label)
Care Instructions: Machine wash, line dry

 

Common Questions:

What is the difference between sun protective clothing and regular clothing?
Most summer clothing actually provides less sun protection than a SPF 30 sunscreen. We test each garment we sell for UPF 50+ coverage.

What is the difference between UPF and SPF?
The Ultraviolet Protection Factor or UPF on sun protective clothing is actually a very similar concept to the Sun Protection Factor or SPF rating for sunscreen but there are some differences. The major difference is that the UPF for sun protective clothing and swimming shirts rates protection for both UVA and UVB whereas the SPF number on sunscreen only rates protection against UVB. Also, a person wearing a UPF 30 garment will, in practice, be protected against 96% of UVA and UVB, whereas most people who use a SPF 30 sunscreen don’t apply enough sunscreen and, in practice, end up with significantly less protection, typically being protected against less than 50% of UVB.

If I wear sun protective clothes, do I still need sunscreen?
Sunscreen is always recommended on areas not directly covered by our sun protective fabric, such as your chin, cheeks and hands – this will ensure maximum UV protection.

Why can I see light through some of my UPF 50+ clothes and hats? Does that mean they’re not blocking 98% of UVA and UVB?
The garment or hat is still protective even when you can see light through it. UV rays are shorter and have a higher frequency than visible light rays. Visible light is not harmful to us since the frequency is not high enough. You can still see light through sunglasses with 100% UV protection – right?

Are all sun protective clothes the same?
No. Every company that produces sun protective clothing has different quality standards and fabric types for their UPF clothing. In addition, different sun protective clothes may have ratings lower than UPF 50+. Coolibar only sells sun protective clothing with a UPF rating of 50+.

Is the titanium dioxide in some of the fabrics safe?
Yes. The micronized non-nano titanium dioxide particles are encapsulated by the fibers. We often use the seeded watermelon analogy to explain.

– The fibers (fibers are thread together to make the fabric) = the rind of the watermelon.
– The titanium dioxide = the watermelon seeds. If you cut the watermelon in half, you can see the seeds on the inside.

The seeds, however, are never able to reach the surface of the watermelon. The same principle applies with the titanium dioxide used in our clothing.

How many times can I wash it before the sun protection wears out?
Our SUNTECT® brand fabrics have guaranteed UPF of 50+ for the life of the garment. The protection does not wash or wear out.

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Educate Others SunAWARE

Don’t Burn. Learn About the UV Index.

Looking up the UV Index is as important as looking up the weather online or watching the morning forecast every day.  Just like the weather forecast, the UV Index forecast tells you what to wear. In addition, it indicates how you should prepare for the sun’s intensity so you can feel comfortable and keep your skin protected while outside.

Over-exposure to UVA and UVB rays from the sun can cause more than painful sunburn. Repeat exposure to the sun’s harmful UV rays over time can cause premature aging of the skin and contribute to your risk of developing skin cancer. The UV Index predicts UV intensity levels on a scale of 1 to 11+, and the higher the UV Index number is, the greater risk you’re at of damaging your skin. The Index takes into account clouds and other conditions that affect the amount of UV radiation reaching the ground.

 

Exposure
Category
Index Number Sun Protection Measures
 LOW  <2 Wear sunglasses that block 100% of UV. If you burn easily, cover-up and use broad-spectrum sunscreen SPF 30+. In winter, reflection off snow can nearly double UV strength.
 MODERATE  3-5 Take precautions if you will be outside, such as wearing a wide-brim hat and sunglasses that block 100% of UV and using broad-spectrum sunscreen SPF 30+. Reduce your exposure to the sun’s most intense UV radiation by seeking shade between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
 HIGH  6-7 Protection against sun damage is needed. Wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses that block 100% of UV, use broad-spectrum sunscreen SPF 30+ and wear a long-sleeved shirt and pants when practical. Reduce your exposure to the sun’s most intense UV radiation by seeking shade between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
 VERY HIGH  8-10 Protection against sun damage is needed. If you need to be outside during midday hours between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., take steps to reduce sun exposure. A tightly woven shirt (or sun protective clothing), wide-brim hat and broad-spectrum sunscreen SPF 30+ are a must, and be sure you seek shade.Beachgoers should know that white sand and other bright surfaces reflect UV and can double UV exposure.
 EXTREME  11+ Protection against sun damage is needed. If you need to be outside during midday hours between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., take steps to reduce sun exposure. A tightly woven shirt (or sun protective clothing), wide-brim hat and broad-spectrum sunscreen SPF 30+ are a must, and be sure you seek shade.

 
If your local weather channel doesn’t announce the UV Index, you can get your local UV Index on the Environmental Protection Agency’s SunWise webpage. For smart-phone and tablet users, there are also UV Index apps available. Just search “UV Index” when in your app store. Look up your UV Index right now by entering your zip code into this UV Index widget.

By taking a few simple precautions daily, you can greatly reduce your risk of sunburn and causing permanent skin damage. At Coolibar, we like to use the SunAWARE acronym to explain the simple steps you can take to stay sun safe every day:

SunAWARE Logo

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Inside Coolibar

Fall Camping Gear

Coolibar employee and camping enthusiast Amanda lets you in on a little secret to make your days outdoors easier.  It also may save you from packing piles of clothes and lugging jugs of sunscreen from place-to-place during every trip to the great outdoors. What’s her secret? …

Tent camping is one of my favorite ways to spend the weekend. Each summer and fall I travel to state parks throughout the Midwest to kayak, bike, tube, hike and cook over the campfire. I have my list of essentials for each weekend excursion that make roughing-it easier,  such as my trusty LED lantern, Swiss Army knife, pie iron and soap sheets for quick dishwashing.  Recently, I added a new item to my list of must have camping gear, the Coolibar Weekend ZnO Pullover. I live in this shirt every weekend I’m outside for an extended period of time, and the fabric feels comfortable day and night.

I’ll admit, I starting working for Coolibar a little over a year ago, but I hope that doesn’t dissuade anyone from trying out a shirt with the ZnO SUNTECT® material because it is fabulous!  ZnO SUNTECT® feels like jersey cotton, it’s slightly stretchy, super soft and lightweight. The sun protection in the fabric comes from zinc oxide, an ingredient used in physical sunscreens that block UVA and UVB rays. The zinc oxide is permanently embedded into the fibers, so I don’t worry about it washing out. The zinc oxide not only protects skin better than sunscreen by reflecting 98% of UV rays, but I can go about my activities without worrying about reapplying sunscreen everywhere. It also keeps me cool since less than 2% of the sun’s rays penetrate through the shirt. I doubly love it because my dermatologist strongly recommends wearing sun protection year-round, and my Weekend ZnO Pullover  makes following the doc’s orders a cinch. Best of all and what makes the ZnO material so great, is that when I feel extra lazy after a long day of exploring, I don’t have to change because it keeps me warm when sitting by this fire.  It’s a serious all-in-one find!

If you are a minimalist when it comes to packing for a weekend of fall camping and you want easy-to-use sun protection, I strongly suggest trying a Coolibar long-sleeve shirt made of ZnO SUNTECT® fabric.

Amanda

Coolibar Employee

Shopping on Coolibar.com? Look for the ZnO SUNTECT® symbol on the item page.

Convertible ZnO T-Shirt
Weekend ZnO Pullover
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Inside Coolibar What's Hot

Coolibar’s Favorite Looks for Fall

Take your favorite Coolibar pieces from summer to fall. Scroll through our album of hot looks for fall days that are so fabulous, they’ll blend flawlessly into your wardrobe.  You may even see something new in our UPF 50+ line that you’re missing.

Coolibar designers have taken the time to pair customer favorites with hot trends for fall that you likely already have in your closet or jewelry box. Every collage below shows in detail how to create each unique look.

Style Idea 1: Coolibar Shirt Dress – Pair with a trendy fedora style hat, like the Coolibar Fairway Golf Hat. Add color with a multi-toned bracelet and a bright green necklace. Complete this ensemble with a pair of knee-high brown leather boots. Add some fun tights for a breezy fall stroll in the park.

 

Style Idea 2: Coolibar ZnO Sun Wrap – Layer over a tank, such as the Coolibar Basic Sun Shell, and wrap a belt around the undershirt to really flatter your mid-section. Intensify contrast with turquoise, gold jewelry or metallic sunglasses. Finally, lace-up some ankle wedges for look that commands attention from bystanders.

 

Style Idea 3: Coolibar ZnO Long Sleeve T-shirt – Add bold prints like a leopard scarf to give black a fierce look. Ruby red accessories and heels give your sharp assembly even more of an edge. At last, tuck your shirt into a skirt that falls just above your knees and sits at the waist, like the Coolibar Wrap Skirt. Just wait for the whistles of admiration to start once you walk out the door.

 

Style Idea 4: Coolibar Pin Tuck Blouse – Keep it simple and elegant with lustrous accents and pearls. Add even more shape to the waistline with a metallic skinny belt. Slip on your favorite pair of skinny pants, preferably a neutral tone; and to top it off, opt for a brimming hat, such as the Coolibar Montauk Sun Hat. Now you’re ready to hit the town in ultra feminine fashion.

 

Style Idea 5: Coolibar Essential Blouse – Light lilac and pink tops really shine when up against charcoal and grey compliments, such as grey business slacks. Take a piece of silver jewelry you’ve had put away forever and make it like new again while adding more polish to your look. This outfit is perfect for the office, but please feel free to take it out to lunch with a floppy hat, for instance, the Coolibar Packable Wide Brim Hat.

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Expert Rx

Dermatologist Plea: Use Sun Protection Year Round

Now that fall has arrived, your skin care regimen may change, but please leave sun protection in the mix. UVA (aging) and UVB (burning) rays are present year-round, whether cloudy or sunny.  By forgoing sun protection in the fall and winter, you may be exposing your skin to sun damage, which accumulates slowly over-time causing age spots, wrinkles or worse. Take it from Dr. Cynthia Bailey who has been practicing dermatology in California for over 24 years. Never tuck your sun protection away, even for a day.

Expert advice from Dermatologist Cynthia Bailey, M.D.

You know that you should protect your skin from the summer sun, but what about the rest of the year? And what about the morning and late afternoon, do you know if that sun will cause wrinkles, age spots and skin cancer? You’ve noticed that the sun feels weaker in the non-summer months and in the morning and afternoon, can it still damage your skin if you don’t sun protect?

I see a lot of patients in my dermatology practice with tanned and wrinkled skin who tell me that because they walk or swim in the morning or during the non-summer months that they don’t need sunscreen or sun protective clothing.  They think that because the sun feels weaker they’re safe. Yes, the sunburn ray called UVB is less intense then, but the sun still damages your skin and the tan and wrinkles are the evidence.

The reason the sun is harmful is that UVA rays are out in full intensity; they’re out all day, all year, and at the same intensity as mid-day in the summer!  This means that from sunup to sundown, January or July you’re getting the same hit of UVA. Plus, UVA penetrates your skin more deeply than UVB causing significant and irreversible damage to the deeper parts, and this causes wrinkles.  As if that’s not enough, your sunscreen SPF value tells you nothing about how well your product blocks UVA.  In fact many products don’t do a good job blocking the UVA rays, which is one of the big criticisms of sunscreens.

I’m writing this post in September and I hope that it will help you plan great sun protection for your skin as we move into fall and winter.  Don’t slack off on your sun protection just because the sunburn ray is less intense and the sun feels less damaging. You need to take UVA seriously, which means you need really good protection from UVA.

UVA is bad news! It penetrates skin more deeply than the sunburn ray UVB and the havoc it wreaks on your skin is caused by free radicals.  These free radicals cause a damage that leads to skin thinning (atrophy), which is what causes most of the wrinkles and skin fragility that we erroneously associate with aging (extrinsic aging of the skin as opposed in intrinsic aging).  Thin, fragile skin tears and bruises easily as you get older and we can’t reverse it.  UVA is also linked to the development of skin cancers, including melanoma.  To reiterate, UVA damage is not reversible which means prevention is really important.

Even on brisk fall days, the sun's UV rays are present.

What’s my advice for the best year round UVA sun protection for your skin?

1.  Keep the sun off your skin with sun protective clothing and a full brim hat

Try to cover as much of your skin as possible and when it’s not really hot outside this is easy to do.  Remember, when you depend on sunscreen alone you need a ‘thick and sticky coat’ every 2 hours, and that’s hard to keep up with.  Plus, a sunscreen’s protection isn’t perfect and neither is your application of it.  My preference is that you wear sun protective clothing for the best sun protection.  Ideally you want to wear clothes that protects your full arms and chest too.  These are areas where people get a lot of unfortunate skin thinning from sun damage because they wear short sleeved v-neck shirts.  During hot weather or outdoor athletic activities wear functional garments like swim shirts and tights, ventilated sun protective shirts etc.  Don’t skimp on yourself, create a wardrobe that really protects your skin. 

2.  Wear broad spectrum sunscreen everyday on all the skin that’s left uncovered

This includes your face, neck, ears and the back of your hands.  Make sure your sunscreen product blocks UVA well.  In my opinion, this means using a product with 5% or more micronized zinc oxide. Sunscreen formulation is still tricky though which is why I stick with a small group of products that I’ve seen work over and over for my patients and my family.  Sunscreen product failure is all too common with other sunscreens, you need a product that you can trust especially with UVA because the UV ray doesn’t cause a quick sunburn and it may take weeks to figure out that your product is letting UVA through.  I also don’t recommend that you rely on a facial moisturizer for UVA protection because most don’t do a good job at that.  Remember the SPF tells you only about UVB protection, not about UVA protection.  Be deliberate about your daily application of sunscreen, use only a broad spectrum product so that you have the UVA protection you need to keep your skin healthy and strong.

3.  Add high concentration antioxidant skin care products to your facial skin care routine and apply them everyday

Scientific studies have shown that applying highly concentrated antioxidants to your skin really does reduce UV damage.  The best are the green tea polyphenols, vitamin C and E.  There is no regulation on these products though meaning any skin cream or serum can make grand claims about containing antioxidants yet include only a minute ‘fairy dusting’ concentration that doesn’t do anything.  A recent study of sunscreen products with added antioxidants showed that the incidental amounts added to those products did not provide free radical protection and had no antioxidant power when tested in the laboratory.  With the right products though I’ve seen my patients get real results (fewer precancerous lesions for me to treat during their checkups).  These products are the two Replenix Creams and the C/R/S vitamin C serum that I sell from my web store. 

4.  Don’t forget to seek the shade to sun protect your skin

As the weather gets colder it’s so tempting to want to sit in the direct sun, but only do that with sun protective clothing and sunscreen on.  Keep your skin out of the sun as much as possible.  Remember that UV rays bounce off pavement, sand, rocks, buildings etc.  If you’re getting a tan you’re exposed.

5.  Don’t listen to people who tell you to get non-summer, morning or afternoon sun to prevent vitamin D deficiency

Remember, UVA doesn’t make vitamin D in your skin so resist that false advice to get year round sun exposure for your vitamin D production.  Most places in the world only have enough UVB rays during the summer to make meaningful vitamin D in your skin.  Even then, I don’t recommend using your skin as a vitamin D factory because it gives doctors like me job security.  Vitamin D is pretty complex and I always recommending talking to your personal doctor for advice.  To read more about my opinion on vitamin D and the sun click here to read my article Are You Really Getting Vitamin D From The Sun Or Just Nuking Your DNA?

Reference: Ex vivo evaluation of radical sun protection factor in popular sunscreens with antioxidants, Steven Q. Wang, MD et. al., Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 2011;65:525-30

More from Dr. Bailey at http://www.drbaileyskincare.com/blog/.

Disclaimer: The information provided by Coolibar and its contributors is general skin care information and should not be a substitute for obtaining medical advice from your physician and is not intended to diagnose or treat any specific medical problem.

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Sun Protection Clothing

Sun Protective Clothing – Your Best Defense Against the Sun

The National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention (NCSCP) has updated their advice on skin cancer prevention, and “Wear Protective Clothing” has been listed before “Generously Apply Sunscreen.”  The National Coucil is comprised of members from all leading skin cancer prevention organizations.  The Skin Cancer Foundation, a member of the NCSCP, says, “Clothing is the single most effective form of sun protection. It is our first line of defense against the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays.” However, not all clothing provides adequate sun protection.  Look for a UPF 50+ rating, which is the highest rating available for clothing and blocks 98% UVA and UVB rays.

Check out the Skin Cancer Foundation’s rundown on sun protective clothing and learn how to choose apparel that will ensure your skin is safe in the sun.

The Skin Cancer Foundation on Sun Protective Clothing

What a UPF Rating Really Means

UPF stands for Ultraviolet Protection Factor and indicates how much of the sun’s UV radiation is absorbed. A fabric with a rating of 50 will allow only 1/50th of the sun’s UV rays to pass through. This means the fabric will reduce your skin’s UV radiation exposure significantly, because only 2 percent of the UV rays will get through.

What’s the Difference between UPF and SPF?

SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor and is the rating you’re familiar with for sunscreens and other sun-protective products. It measures the amount of time it takes for sun-exposed skin to redden, while UPF measures the amount of UV radiation that penetrates a fabric and reaches the skin.

Which Fabrics are Best?

As a rule, light-colored, lightweight and loosely-woven fabrics do not offer much protection from the sun. That white T-shirt you slip on at the beach when you feel your skin burning provides only moderate protection from sunburn, with an average ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) of 7. At the other end of the spectrum, a long-sleeved dark denim shirt offers an estimated UPF of 1,700 – which amounts to a complete sun block. In general, clothing made of tightly-woven fabric best protects skin from the sun. The easiest way to test if a fabric can protect your skin is to hold it up to the light. If you can see through it, then UV radiation can penetrate it – and your skin.

The color of the fabric also plays a role. Darker-colored fabrics are more effective than lighter at blocking out the sun. For instance, the UPF of a green cotton T-shirt is 10 versus 7 for white cotton, and a thicker fabric such as velvet in black, blue or dark green has an approximate UPF of 50.

Fabric Content and the Wearer’s Activity Make a Difference

What the clothing is made of matters. Fabrics such as unbleached cotton contain special pigments called lignins that act as UV absorbers. High-luster polyesters and even thin, satiny silk can be highly protective because they reflect radiation.

Even if the piece of clothing has a good UPF, what you do while wearing it can make a difference. If the fabric gets stretched, it will lose some of its protective ability, because the fabric becomes thinner and more transparent to light. And once it gets wet, it can lose up to 50 percent of its UPF. In Florida, it is a common practice for parents to put a white T-shirt on their children to protect them from the sun while swimming. But when that T-shirt gets wet, it provides a UPF of only 3.

Consider High-Tech Clothing

When selecting clothes for sun protection, consider fabrics that have been specially treated with chemical UV absorbers, known as colorless dyes. These prevent some penetration of both UVB and UVA rays. A number of manufacturers are now making special sun-protective clothing that has been treated with a chemical sunblock during the manufacturing process. In addition, they use fabrics of the weave and colors that provide protection best. The garments are designed to cover as much of the skin as possible.

New standards for sun-protective fabrics in the US were unveiled in January, 2001. UPF is similar to SPF, in that they both measure protection.

Only clothes with a UPF of 15-50+ may be labeled as sun-protective. Clothes that are marketed with a sun-protective claim are usually UPF 50+. Also, like regular clothing, sun-protective clothing may lose its effectiveness if pulled too tight or stretched out, if it becomes damp or wet, or if it is washed and worn repeatedly.

Reference: Skin Cancer Foundation website. http://www.skincancer.org/sun-protective-clothing.html 

Coolibar is the authority in sun protection. With years of advanced testing and innovative sun-blocking technologies, we make the highest quality sun protective fabrics available. Shop Coolibar or visit the Coolibar Facebook Page to have a sun protection expert answer your questions about sun protective clothing.

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Inside Coolibar

Taking on Colorado Rapids

Spend a moment with Rose, Coolibar’s do it all extraordinaire, as she shares her exhilarating story of taking on the rapids of the Arkansas River in Colorado.

Colorado – what a fun state to visit! In the winter, skiing can be exhilarating and overwhelming compared to riding the relative mounds that we have here in Minnesota. I thought no experience that Colorado offered could beat snowboarding from the crest of a towering mountain, but that was before I tried white water rafting!

This summer, I took a weekend trip to Colorado that was jam packed with a small sampling of exciting activities. Rafting a mighty river, hiking up a mountain, keeping one eye peeled for the nature that surrounded us and perusing a street fair filled our time. Even though we spent the majority of the weekend out in the pounding sun, our friends were shocked that neither my boyfriend Aaron, who is very fair skinned, nor I got a sunburn!

We started the weekend with the most exciting, and most terrifying activity – White Water Rafting! I was pretty anxious about rafting, because I’m not the strongest swimmer, and I was secretly, very secretly, hoping that something would prevent us from plunging into that rapid filled water – a flat tire, bad directions, stomach flu – I would even settle for our rental car getting trampled by a herd of feral elk! But, we made it to the rafting company offices in one piece, ready to risk our lives for a thrill.

After numerous safety and training talks, which somehow only made me more nervous, rather than putting me at ease, we plunged into the cold water of the Arkansas River. I was shocked by the temperature of the water, and by the sudden feeling of calm that came over me. I figured that there was no turning back at that point, so I may as well embrace the adventure. We had an easy morning, getting used to the river and to paddling as a team. Then, after a delicious steak lunch, we took on the big rapids. The counter intuitiveness of paddling into a large wall of water mixed with the disorienting feeling of plunging your paddle into water that suddenly is no longer there, took a while to get used to, but eventually was addictively thrilling. After we tackled the final rapid of the day, I was surprised by the disappointment I felt – I wanted to continue battling that river.

It turns out all the trepidation I had felt was for nothing, and in truth, the most dangerous element that I battled all day was probably the sun. Halfway through the day, our guide remembered that he hadn’t applied sunscreen. Luckily for him, I had some sunscreen with me which I gladly offered to share. After all, he was keeping me safe on the river, so I found it only natural to help keep him sun safe! And besides, though I had generously applied sunscreen to my face and hands, I had plenty of sunscreen to share because I was shielded from the sun by my Coolibar Fitness Jacket (great for this kind of activity because it’s quick drying).

My Fitness Jacket and Aaron’s Short-sleeve Swim Shirt got a lot of use the rest of the weekend, as did our brand new Coolibar hats (he had the Reversible Bucket Hat and I had the Packable Wide Brim). I was really impressed with how well my hat stayed on my head, even when I was exploring the windy area near the Alpine Visitor Center at the top of a mountain! I’m really glad I packed along my Coolibar gear, because it made all the difference between filling our time with fun activities, and spending our weekend inside, nursing a bad sunburn.

We had such a great time, and I can’t wait to go back next summer!

Rose

Coolibar Employee

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Wellness Warriors

Providing Sun Protection to Sailors

Brenda Scannell

Sun protection is important for everyone, but especially for sailors who spend most of their days in or by water. The FDA advises using extra caution near water and sand because these surfaces reflect damaging UV rays and increase your chance of sunburn, premature aging of the skin and skin cancer.

Brenda Scannell is a huge fan of sailing and recently took over the Q-Mart sailing apparel and gear store at the Quissett Yacht Club (QYC) located in Falmouth, MA on Cape Cod. She has also made it a priority to provide all of the 2011 QYC summer sailing instructors, the role models within the club, with Coolibar sun protective swim shirts and sun hats.

So why provide these instructors with sun protective clothing? Turns out Brenda knows a thing or two about sailing and why it’s a brilliant idea to forgo a bikini for a UPF 50+ swim shirt.

Brenda lived the first ten summers of her life on a wooden boat and then came to Quissett in 1978. For ten years, she raced Herreshoffs, a historically significant type of sailboat. Then, Brenda was forced to take a break from sailing when she was diagnosed with skin cancer. “I’ve had 18 Squamous Cell Cancer surgeries below my knees. My regular dermatologist at Mass General Hospital said, ‘Be sure to tell your group that any one of them could have killed you!'”

After this life altering experience, Brenda, her sons, and her husband decided to ‘pay it forward’ as they know sun protection is key in preventing skin cancer. “In my name, and as a gesture to me, my sons and husband decided to fund Sun Protective Clothing for the 2011 sailing instructors,” says Brenda. Both of her sons Matt, the lead singer, writer and guitarist of the band Vertical Horizon, and Ryan, a Reconstructive Surgeon in Otolaryngology, Ear, Nose, and Throat, went through the QYC sailing program. Brenda says, “Ryan deals with so much skin cancer. He has seen terrible things! Regarding the sailing instructors and sun protection he said, ‘Mom, whatever it takes, make it happen!'”

QYC Sailing Instructors
QYC sailing instructors sporting their Coolibar hats and rash guards

Brenda asked each QYC sailing instructor go to the Coolibar Sun Protection Clothing website, which was recommended to Brenda by her Mohs Surgeon, to choose a UPF 50+ Swim Shirt and Hat to have red QYC Logos embroidered on so they could wear protective swim shirts during their sailing classes. Brenda also told the instructors that she is now bringing Sun Protective Clothing to the Q-Mart for the sailing class students to purchase. “You [the instructors] are the role models. If the students see you wearing these clothes, they will follow suit as YOU ARE THEIR HEROES!”

Sun protective clothing has been worn at the club over the past few years, but now, sailors are taking sun protection more seriously. “Our lives at Quissett are spent outdoors all of the time on the boats and the beach,” says Brenda. “All are truly positive about the sun protective clothing that is being provided. I feel that the sailing instructors might have some resistance  to  the protective clothing in very hot weather, but the answer to that is to wet the shirt and the sailor is immediately cooled down. I know we’ll continue to promote sun safety at the QYC in the future.”

women's swim shirt in navy
Coolibar Women's Swim Shirt
men's swim shirt in navy
Coolibar Men's Swim Shirt
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