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Sun-protective clothing gets mixed reviews

Even if protective clothing is used, sunscreen with a high SPF is a must when outside, especially for children. (AP)

Darci Marchese, wtop.com

WASHINGTON – Sunscreen and sunglasses are a must before hitting the beach.

But when it comes to sun-protective clothing, there are mixed reviews.

UV-protective clothing used to be just for skin cancer patients, but The New York Times reports brands like Gap and Lands End are now adding protection to everyday clothing. The fabric is infused with chemicals that absorb the sun’s ultraviolet rays.

Some doctors say that type of clothing can certainly add an additional layer of protection in the sun, especially for children who don’t like sunscreen. But others are less enthusiastic.

Dr. Naomi Lawrence, head of dermatology at Cooper University Medical Center, tells the Times she prefers a tightly woven, dark shirt worn over specialized clothing.

David Andrews, with the Environmental Working Group, says clothes with a tighter weave “will provide adequate UPF [ultraviolet protection factor].”

“Not to mention there’s no need to do a full load of wash with all your undergarments and everything to make them UPF protected,” he says.

Other products, like shampoo, sometimes seem to advertise UV protection, but the claims are unfounded.

Certain make-up brands also sell foundation with SPF protection. But Lawrence tells the Times wearers would have to cake it on to make a difference and says it’s better to apply sunscreen.

The Times reports that the Food and Drug Administration briefly regulated sun-protective clothes in the early 1990s, classifying them as medical devices. It no longer regulates the clothing.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)


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