If you think a white cotton tee worn over your bikini is protecting your skin from the sun’s harmful rays, think again. The fact is that not all fabrics are created equal. Some are nearly translucent, some are impermeable, and some are UPF 50.
UPF stands for Ultraviolet Protection Factor and has to do with how well a fabric protects your skin from the sun. Fabrics with a UPF of 50 have a very tight weave, like corduroys or dungarees. “The concept of UPF 50 fabrics and swimwear is that you’re getting really powerful protection that’s screening out 98 percent of UVA and UVB rays but that’s a light, breathable, quick-drying fabric,” says Whitney Bowe, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist in New York City.
Not that this excuses the use of sunscreen — you still need to wear it. Most dermatologists recommend reapplying sunscreen every two hours — and even more frequently when exposed to water — but ever since the FDA announced that it was rethinking the safety of most chemical sunscreens out there, dermatologist are advising we protect ourselves with sun-protective clothing. Especially when going to the beach or pool.
Enter: rash guards.
I know, it is hard to turn down the appeal of a bikini worn with a stylish sarong on your next beach outing, but since the National Cancer Institute reports that the rate of new melanoma cases among American adults has tripled since the 1970s, we are not taking the risk.
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The longest I’ve ever held my breath is 4 minutes. It certainly wasn’t comfortable (and in the freediving world this even isn’t a lot), but it was and still is a pretty big achievement for me☺️ . Most my passions in life come from this fascination with the duality of comfort and discomfort. As I (attempted to) highline yesterday I realized how consistently stepping between the two brings a greater sense of equilibrium and appreciation to my life. How cool it is what our bodies can do or learn to do, and that maybe this is one of my favorite parts of being human. . This was shot last month while staying at the @westinhapuna on the beautiful #KohalaCoast on the Big Island. Thanks for keeping us extra cozy and well fed on property so we could be our best adventurous selves outside! We dove every morning and it was heavenly 🙂 – Photo by @aliciaunderwater (happy anniversary you two❤️)
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“With sunscreen under close scrutiny and skin cancer on the rise, I’m talking to my clients about sun-protective clothing,” says Bowe. “You don’t have to apply sunscreen anywhere that fabric covers.”
Here are our most stylish recommendations, no matter the adventure.
If You Aren't in the Caribbean but Wish You Were
Add a little tropical flair to your beach day — even if you are headed to the Hamptons or another northernmost beach. This style features kangaroo pockets, a full zipper for easy on and off, a high neck and a hoodie (in case beach day turns into rain day or you want less sun to hit your face).
If You're Also Bringing a Vera Bradley Bag
For a rash guard that is as cute as anything else you have in your closet, look here. An upgrade from your typical easy summer tee, it features a shoulder zipper that elevates the look while keeping things functional.
If You'll Be Working Extreme Sports Into The Schedule
For a surfer look, go with this crew neck cut with a slim fit and traditional tide print. The full zipper makes it easy to take on an off when wet and it adjusts to body temperature.
If You're Somewhere in the Mediterranean Sea
If you are bored of the typical crew neck, this rash guard gives the eye a little extra summer-in-Santorini feels, with embroidery at the slit collar. Plus, it can be ruched with side drawstrings.
If You'll Be Sitting Under an Umbrella With Your Beach Read
Some people do not like to take risks, even in their selection of rash guard. So, opt for this solid colored style with ruched sides — just pull the cord to convert from dress to shirt.
If You'll Be Squeezing in a Visit to The Museum
Modern art lovers will flock to this colorful style, which features thumb holes at the cuffs, an anti-glide silicone band to keep it in place as you surf and a shoulder zipper. It features a tight-fit and four-way stretch, for style and comfort.
If You'll Be Running After Kids or Building Sand Castles
With padded cups for comfort, this top features a color block design with a crewneck and tribal print that will provide a pop of color to any swim outfit.
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