Wear Clothes That Protect You
In order of importance, the factors that make clothing sun-protective are weave (tighter is better), color (darker is better), weight (heavier is better), stretch (less is better) and wetness (dry is better). The UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Rating) is a measurement of how effectively a garment can help ward off sun damage. A fabric rated 50 will allow just one-fiftieth of the sun's rays to pass through it, and U.S. guidelines require that clothing labeled "sun-protective" have a rating of at least 15.
A white cotton T-shirt has a rating of only 7, while denim jeans are UPF 1,000. But the development of new tighter weaves and fabrics that contain titanium dioxide (which blocks the sun's rays) means you don't have to wear a long-sleeved leather jacket to be protected at the beach, and you can find many manufacturers of sun-protective clothing online.
If you're buying nonrated garments, choose those that offer as much cover as possible, polyester rather than cotton, dark fabrics, and nothing in net, mesh, or other loose weaves. Always wear a hat, preferably light-colored (to reflect UV radiation) and with a three-inch brim. And raise the UPF of your family's clothing with Rit's product Sunguard. With the active ingredient Tinosorb, it can be added to a warm- or hot-water laundry load to boost the UPF of a white cotton T-shirt from UPF 7 to UPF 30 for up to 20 washings.
Sunglasses can also help protect you from UV damage. Choose glasses with 100 percent UV protection that have an AOA (American Optometric Association) seal of approval. Don't use darkness as a gauge; clear polycarbonate lenses offer total protection.
Saving Your Pet's Skin
The dog days of summer --or any days with too much sun, for that matter --may not be suitable for your pets, either.
Their fur naturally protects them, especially those with thick or long coats, but Chihuahuas, bull terriers, and other light-colored, short-hair breeds are possibly at risk for sunburn and even skin cancer.
To protect your pet, don't trim his or her hair too short, avoid sun (especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.), and use sunscreen formulated especially for animals, like SPF 15 Pet Sunscreen, about $10. (Products meant for humans may be toxic to a dog that's licking itself.) Reapply it several times a day, especially to exposed areas like tips of ears, nose, lips, groin, and any other spot where fur is thin.
Although cats' thick fur generally protects them, white-faced and pink-nosed cats are at risk for solar dermatitis, which can lead to squamous-cell carcinoma. They're vulnerable even if they spend a lot of time sitting in a window. Limit their sun exposure, and apply pet sunscreen to the most exposed areas --ears and noses.