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UV-blocking garments fend off sun damage

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The amount of clothing many of us wear in summer is, understandably, inverse to the temperature. Matters of decency aside, that might not be a problem if we wore enough sunscreen, but most Americans don’t.

Just 18 percent of adults in the United States slather up before they go outdoors, according to a U.S. sunscreen study conducted by Neutrogena this year, and just 48 percent of Americans who slather up reapply sunscreen, even though many dermatologists recommend reapplication every two hours.

"The best sunscreen of all is a hat and protective clothing and smart behavior," according to ASDS President Jeffrey Dover.

Regular apparel simply doesn’t offer the same sort of UV protection as purpose-built, sun-protective items, though a tightly woven textile in dark colors is better than a loose weave in a light color.

Sonja Gfeller, founder of Ayana, a UV-protective apparel line, was having a hard time maintaining her sense of fashion and protecting her skin from the sun after moving from her native Switzerland to San Clemente, Calif.

Three years of research yielded fabrics from Japan and Taiwan that either wove zinc oxide, a UV blocker, into the textile or infused it into the fabric during the dyeing process. She started sewing those 45 UPF textiles into casual everyday items such as tunics, T-shirts, blouses, pants and skirts. This spring-summer season she expects to sell about 2,000 garments through her website, www.ayanashop.com.

Ayana’s garments are made in L.A. and, like most sun-protective clothing items, are effective for a limited number of washings — about 40. They also need to be worn in conjunction with sunscreen because clothes don’t cover everything. Exposed bits of skin are still vulnerable to the sun.

 

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