When I first started to study sun protective clothing, I found the studies on clothing I reviewed to be fascinating. Most studies showed that fiber choice and construction and weight of the textile contributed to sun protection, however there was very little consistency to the findings. The sun protection was all over the place ranging from a UPF of 1 to well over 50.
What the studies failed to consistently look to was a factor called ‘porosity’. Porosity refers to the cover factor- how tightly woven the fibers of the textile are to block UV from coming through. In fact, there were very few studies even evaluating this.
When I began to look at the chemical finishes used to add UV protection to any textile, it made sense at first to add these finishes to make sure there is protection. However, I had trouble finding studies evaluating what happens to these finishes.
The standard to label clothing with a UPF is to place the clothing through 40 washes to make sure it maintains that protection. Why? Because the chemical finishes wash out. They wash out! What happens next? They end up in our waterways. They impact the reproductive ability of aquatic life. They block UV from making its way through water surfaces to benefit life and plants underwater.
This is what really bothered me. To better understand why, consider the fact that I perform over 5000 skin cancer screenings annually. This isn’t just me looking at people’s skin and sending them out. This is me magnifying, evaluating every single mole and freckle and counseling patients on sun safety.
Do you have any idea hard it is to counsel patients with conflicting information?...
Me: ‘Wear your sunscreen!’ Patient : ‘But, isn’t it killing coral in the ocean?’
Me: ‘Wear your sunscreen!’ Patient : ‘But, isn’t I heard it’s absorbed into our bloodstream- is that ok?’
Me: ‘Wear your sunscreen!’ Patient : ‘But, I literally scrub my skin after wearing it and it just doesn’t seem to come off, the water beads up on my skin. Is that ok?! ’
Me: ‘Wear your sunscreen!’ Patient : ‘But, what about vitamin D?’
Me: ‘Ok wear sun protective clothing!’ Patient: ‘But what’s in it? More chemicals?’
Me: ‘Ok wear sun protective clothing!’ Patient: ‘Are you kidding- that stuff is simply not the look I’m going for.’
So this is when I realized I have to find a better way. My patients are right. They know what they are talking about. I know what I know but the reason they call seeing patients ‘practice’ is because every patient I see makes me a better physician. They make me look at what I say and what I do and try to do better.
Making AmberNoon is what this is all about. Creating something that my patients asked for, that they needed. Clothing that is sun safe – without adding UV chemical finishes. Reduce the need for wearing sunscreen. Protect our skin safely without compromising the environment.
Welcome to AmberNoon, the new age of sun safety.