Three Tips For Purchasing A Sun-Blocking Performance Shirt

Skin cancer is one of the most common types of cancer, with about 3.3 million people affected every year. If you're going to be outside for any length of time, it's important to protect yourself from the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays, and one great way of doing that is to purchase a sun-blocking performance shirt. Here are three tips for getting shirts that offer maximum protection for whatever sport you're participating in.

Check the UPF Rating

The first thing you want to look at is the shirt's UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) rating. Similar to SPF, a garment's UPF factor tells you how much of the sun's UV rays it will filter out. The higher the rating, the more UV rays are prevented from reaching your skin. For instance, a shirt with a UV rating of 25 will let about 4 percent of the UV rays pass through, while a shirt with a UPF rating of 50 will only let 2.5 percent through.

Although all shirts may provide some measure of sun protection, it's a good idea to know the exact UPF because that will help you plan accordingly. If you know the shirt you're wearing will let through 6 percent of the UV rays from the sun, you can plan on wearing sunscreen underneath to provide additional protection or make sure to avoid being in direct sunlight as much as possible.

Choose a Loose Cut

There are several things that can reduce the effectiveness of your sun-blocking shirt, and the way it fits is one of them. The fibers in a shirt that fits tight will be stretched apart, creating tiny holes that let the full force of the sun's ultraviolet rays through. So, while a tight shirt may let you show off your flat stomach and bulging biceps, it could put you at a higher risk of getting skin cancer.

To avoid exposing yourself to more UV rays than necessary, choose a loose-fitting shirt that stretches or pulls minimally when you move around. Not only will you enjoy the full sun protection offered by the fabric, but you may also be much more comfortable working out since the shirt won't restrict your movements as much.

Be Mindful of Exposed Areas

Another thing you want to keep an eye out for are the areas of your body the shirt won't cover. For instance, V-necks leave most of your neck and a little bit of your chest bare, while short-sleeved shirts expose your forearms. Any areas left bare by the shirt will need to be covered in sunscreen or other sun-blocking garments (e.g., a jacket or scarf).

Dealing with this issue can be challenging, particularly if you'll be exercising when the weather is hot. Long-sleeve, zip-neck shirts typically offer the most coverage. However, they can cause you to quickly become overheated on warm days. Try to balance this out by getting shirts in cooling and sweat-wicking materials, such as cotton and polyester. Shirts in lighter colors can also help keep you cool, since light colors—such as white—reflect light rather than absorb it.

If you prefer shirts that will leave some of your skin bare, be sure to either take along sunblock and apply it liberally and frequently, or layer your sun-blocking garments for maximum protection.

Bonus Tip: Replace Regularly

Sun-blocking garments lose their effectiveness over time as they become worn or faded. If your performance shirts fit too loosely, shrink, or develop tears and holes, donate them to a local charity and replace them with newer pieces.

For more tips on choosing sun-blocking performance shirts or to purchase some for your next outing, check with you favorite online or offline retailer that sells long-sleeve performance shirts.