Leaves turn colors, temperatures start to cool, the sun’s heat wanes, and instinctively we drop our guard and “forget” sunscreen, leave our hats at home and waltz out into the day’s rays utterly unprotected. Is it really necessary to stay vigilant with UV protection? Are we truly risking the sun’s wrath if we sit beachside with our book or enjoy our morning cup of coffee on the terrace? Or is this UV stuff all hype?
The answer is simple and surprising. Yes, it’s necessary to stay vigilant even though it feels cooler outside. Science is very clear that the harshest of rays, UVB (“B” helps you remember for Burning) change in intensity based on the season and the position of the sun. But, UVA rays (emphasis on “A” for “Aging”) remain strong in full force with fearless intensity year-round, regardless of season or the sun’s position. These rays will undermine mind all your protective measures unless you stay on it. In short, UVA rays are incredibly powerful rays that never go away, constantly and cumulatively wreaking havoc with skin health, contributing to skin cancer, vision loss and reducing our immunities. While it may seem excessive to wear UPF 50+ clothing covering arms, faces, and heads in these cool fall days, a simple neighborhood walk, a casual bike ride, a lunch al fresco or a play day at the park adds up to long-term irreversible cellular damage. So, yes, keeping your guard up and staying protected is a year-round gig.
Omnipresent and relentless in their reach, the relatively long-wavelength UVA accounts for approximately 95% of the UV radiation reaching the Earth’s surface and thus our skin. Although UVA is generally far less carcinogenic than UVB radiation, it’s present more abundantly in sunlight than UVB radiation and contributes appreciably to the carcinogenicity of sunlight. UVA penetrates into the deeper layers of the skin where connective tissue and blood vessels are affected. As a result, the skin gradually loses its elasticity and starts to wrinkle. Furthermore, recent studies strongly suggest that it may enhance the development of skin cancers. The mechanisms of this UVA damage are not fully understood, but a popular hypothesis assumes that UVA increases oxidative stress in the cell.
Think of UVA as a sneaky, ill-intentioned ninja, stalking their prey (your skin) and never letting up. They penetrate your car windows, but you don’t see them; they’re invisible. They damage skin, but don’t feel them because they don’t burn. But, within a number of years, you start to see the effects of UVA’s work. Freckles pop up on your chest, wrinkles and brown spots appear, jowls and neck skin droops, collagen and elasticity diminishes. Even more serious concerns occur, like vision issues, eye cataracts, and macular degeneration. Or, most serious of all, cancer happens. While UVA isn’t the primary source of cancer, it is a known contributor. And, the simple and unprotected daily commutes and errands in the car, shuttles of kids to soccer or long walks on a warm fall day accumulate and become irreversible UVA damage.
For nearly 20 years, our focus on protection with UPF 50+ clothing was laser-pointed at people who’ve encountered a real medical concern, like cancer, sun allergies, Lupus, chemo treatment, prescription medications that create sun sensitivity. So our broad-spectrum UV fabrics have been specially developed to authentically protect those in need and attack UVB because of its evil results while also pushing back on UVA rays. With stylish, intelligent clothes that block UVA/UVB, a Coolibar tee-shirt looks and feels like any tee-shirt, and with incredible intent. You’d have no idea our tee was a hard-working UV blocking shirt; it’s as soft as a cotton tee and feels wonderful. This strategy has been essential to many customers, because nearly 70% buy Coolibar because of a medical issue, and they want to avoid visibly publicizing their health situation. So our design philosophy has been to develop highly technical fabrics in elegant, comfortable clothes and swimwear that look great. Candidly, we’ve never talked much about UVA. We’ve always blocked UVA, but we’ve never really emphasized these rays, until now. Today, with a company mission that emphasizes keeping people safe from UV damage, we need to be more assertive about prevention as much as we’ve designed for protection. We want to start younger, get people paying attention to skin health. This commitment is our version of “an apple a day.” What’s our answer to powerful UVA rays this fall? How can you start your prevention regime?
We’ve developed a proprietary year-round fabric derived from the Merino sheep in New Zealand. It’s a fantastic blend, machine washable and super comfortable, and we’re not just saying that because we developed it. The Coolibar Merino Wool is an ultra lightweight, comfy, super breathable UPF 50+ fabric that insulates on chillier days and cools on warmer days, and, equally important, it tells UVA rays to bounce off (putting it politely). It’s light enough for men who fear sweater weather; it travels; it’s a lightweight fabric that’s a heavyweight UV fighter. Tested and endorsed by dermatologists and holds The Skin Cancer Foundation seal of recommendation, our Coolibar Merino Wool blocks 98% of UVA and UVB rays and does it in a collection of fall wraps, pullovers, sporty polos, long cardigan-style sweaters, scarves, designed to cover arms, necks, hands and look perfect for the season. Being based in Minnesota, we revel in all outdoor seasons. Our entire company actively participates in outdoors year-round activities. We wear test our products for technical performance, styling, wear-ability, fit, comfort and durability. If we were pushy and not Minnesota nice, we’d highly suggest you wear a quality, high-end sunscreen, always protect your eyes with the best sunglasses you can buy (please avoid the glasses from the dime store; their lens effectiveness degrades) and wear UPF 50+ clothing that makes hiding from UV rays look and feel good.