We love the sun – it means time to ride! We hate it – the sun leaves us baked! Keeping the sun at bay can be a real challenge. Here are some facts and pointers to help you make decisions when you head out on your next ride.
Radiation from the sun comes in different types of rays and each affect the skin differently. All the ray types can damage the skin and accelerate aging and potentially lead to cancer. Modern science has shed new light on the effects of UVA and UVB. To read more about the effects and means for addressing each type of ray visit http://www.skincancer.org/UV-Information/
Common misconceptions about sun
-Cloudy days aren’t bad for me. Truth: UV rays can get you even in overcast or cloudy weather.
-My jersey or a t-shirt is plenty to block the sun. Truth: Cotton and many porous fabrics provide minimal protection, even less when wet.
-I can apply sunscreen just one time and be fine. Truth: reapply as needed.
-The sun comes from above. Truth: Don’t forget to protect from the reflection, concrete, water and sand especially.
-Wearing long sleeves or long pants is going to make me hot! Truth: Blocking the hot rays from your skin can leave you feeling cooler. Residents of the most desert climates and many other hot locales wear long sleeves and pants in light colors with loose fits.
More fabrics are available for sun protection than ever before. Look for “UPF” or Ultraviolet Protection Factor ratings – these tell the blocking effect on both UVA and UVB rays. Some fabrics lose effectiveness over time. Specialized now makes the Solar Jet line for riders and Coolibar also offers cycling gear with UPF ratings. Don’t forget your hands! A few helmet companies have visors on their products, but most are short, just barely covering the nose. For improved sun protection look for something longer like the Carbon Spider Visor (http://www.lobosolo.com/visor/) or the Dr. Shade Long Billed Hat which cyclists sometimes put under helmets.
There are many sunscreen options now, including physical to chemical, and combinations of the two. Physical sunblocks contain ingredients such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. They work by blocking both UVA and UVB rays from reaching the skin with a physical barrier. Researchers suggest these products are not absorbed like chemical sunscreens. Chemical sunscreens on the other hand absorb the rays as they hit the skin but also are absorbed into the skin. Researchers are currently evaluating the health risk of chemical sunscreens. There is ongoing debate in the science community about sunscreen ingredients.