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Running Apparel with Sun Protection

May 31st, 2013

As the sun’s rays burn longer each day, it’s crucial to make sure you’re getting the sun protection you need when you’re out on your run, and a plain ol’ sunscreen just might not be enough. If you’re running in hot temps, you’re much more likely to sweat off your sunscreen, and it can be a hassle to reapply when you’re out on the road or trail.

The solution: apparel that offers an Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) is a great way to make sure you’re getting the sun protection you need. We offer both Men’s UPF Running Apparel and Women’s UPF Running Apparel here at the ‘House.

UPF Rating

Just like the SPF (Sun Protection Factor) varies from one sunscreen to another, the UPF will differ from one technical piece to another. A higher UPF rating means more intense sun protection, so if you burn very easily, look for a garment with UPF 40 or greater, like the Brooks Equilibrium Long Sleeve or the CW-X Pro Tight. Although most people don’t see any visible signs of sun damage to skin covered by even a plain ol’ cotton tee, a technical fabric with a high UPF rating can offer greater protection due to fiber type, knit and treatments.

How Does It Work?

Fabric type, the tightness of the weave, and the inclusion of chemical additives during the manufacturing process all contribute to the ability of a fabric to deflect UV rays. Polyester fabric performs extremely well when it comes to blocking damaging UV light, while natural fibers like cotton typically don’t perform as well unless they’re treated with a chemical additive. Fabric that is woven tightly can add protection because there are fewer gaps in the weave for sunlight to sneak through. Manufacturers can also add chemical compounds to fabrics to make them more effective at blocking UV rays.

Fabric Care

Proper washing and care of technical fabrics increases the amount of life that you can get out of a technical garment. Start with a detergent that is formulated specifically for your running gear, like Penguin Sport Wash or Penguin Sport Gel Cleaner. If you have time, it’s best to wash your technical fabrics together (and separately from your everyday clothes), and to allow them to hang dry. So does washing your UPF gear diminish its sun protection power? If you’ve still got a UPF short sleeve hangin’ around from five years ago, it might not be as effective as it once was, but most UPF gear will survive many washes with its UV protection benefits intact.

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