Wearable Sun Protection – A Necessity in the High Desert
Light – Beautiful and Potentially Damaging
Wearable sun protection – I have known of its existence for some time. Several years ago I even bought a UPF blouse. I disliked it so much, I have worn it maybe a dozen times, probably less. And, it was relatively expensive. I’ve never worn hats; I never looked right in them. For almost as long as I have worn glasses, I’ve had Transitions lenses. I knew they did not darken in cars, but that never bothered me. I never considered extra protection for settings in which the Transitions lenses did not darken.
Not only am I a physician, but virtually everyone in my family has had cataracts (well, that is partly age, but UV exposure is certainly a contributing factor), and one form of skin cancer or another, and the major cause of that is UV exposure. So you would think that before now I might have figured out that sunscreen, unless religiously applied every two hours to any and all exposed parts, was not enough. And, of course, that would not protect the eyes. Here in the desert, wearable sun protection, including for the eyes, is something everyone should consider.
Light, with a capital L, has been important to me since childhood. Those of you who read here often know that. To say merely that I love Light is an understatement. A fellow anthropologist and writer friend describes life on earth as pretty much “Purgatory, a place between Heaven and Hell.” Although my approach to life tends to fall a little more on the Heaven side, much of the past six months of Winter/Spring felt a bit like Purgatory. I was definitely paying for my exposure to the beautiful Light of New Mexico. All’s well that ends well. As a result, however, I have almost completely changed my wardrobe. I have found some things that I can tolerate wearing, and some things that I actually enjoy wearing.
Wearable Sun Protection I Have Found
Because some of you may also be interested in wearable sun protection, I am going to share some of my finds. In the interest of full disclosure, I am an Amazon Associate and receive a few pennies from any items purchased from Amazon through links here. I have no relation other than customer to other suppliers of skin or eye protection whose links are given here.
Because I’ve had glasses with Transitions lenses for so many years, I never gave thought to additional sun protection for my eyes, even though I knew those lenses did not darken in the car. They darkened every where else. I have known I had cataracts since 2011, but they never bothered me until late November of 2016. With multiple risk factors for them, I didn’t give them much thought at all until the night driving home from Corrales I was truly “blinded by the light” of all oncoming cars. I definitely thought I would *never* wear those very large, dark glasses that “old” people wore when their eyes got “bad” (feel free to laugh at me for that one. Karma).
Most cataract surgeons require that a patient show up with a pair of glasses to wear home (among other things). The glasses in the “cataract kit” I purchased from my surgeon’s office came with a two-for-one coupon from Dioptics for equally effective, but more aesthetically pleasing fits-over sunglasses. And I often wear mine alone as sunglasses, given that I only need reading glasses now. I have two pairs, one of which I like better, but both are functional without looking too awful. My eyes can definitely feel as well as see the difference.
This is Haven’s “Ranier,” and I liked it so much my mother ordered a pair for herself:
These are Haven’s “Morgan Signature Mother of Pearl,” which I wear every now and then just for a change:
Retirement brought jeans (which I had never owned until then) and shirts in place of suits and dresses. Mohs surgery on an ear for a skin cancer has brought hats and sun protective shirts in addition to religiously and regularly applied sunscreen. I’m gradually getting used to these. 🙂
1. This is my favorite sun-protective outfit. The shirt is Columbia’s fishing shirt. I don’t fish, but the shirt has all these practical pockets; washes and dries quickly; layers over tanks, tee shirts, and turtlenecks; I can wear the sleeves rolled up or buttoned down; button it high on the neck or wear it open. It carries a UPF 30 rating. Ha! Look what I just found for my Oklahoma friends! I bought this pink one at Amazon for a good price because it is an older color for Columbia. It is a new color to me.
The hat has no special UPF protection. It is my favorite hat for short times of being out in the sun. It is sort of my “social hat.” I wore this outfit to a concert by the Santa Fe Opera Brass Quintet this morning, and I did not feel at all inappropriately dressed. The hat was an Amazon purchase, and it is so much better than what I had expected. I always get compliments on the entire outfit, including the hat, wherever I go.
2. This is my most practical sun-protective outfit. I wear it when gardening (here prepared to dig weeds) and when photographing down on the bosque. The shirt is also the Columbia fishing shirt, rated UPF 30, just in a different color. I got a good buy at Amazon the day I bought it.
The hat is from Sun Protection Zone and is rated UPF 50. I bought it at Costco. While I don’t particularly like the look, I do like protecting my neck and ears. Sometimes protection is more important than style.
3. This top is from Coolibar, and has a UPF 50 rating. I have a matching neck gaiter, but it was too hot for that the day I was doing photos. I also have one of these in burgundy with a matching tank top that makes the neck coverage more complete. These will be more comfortable in the fall and winter.
The hat is the one from Amazon.
4. In these next two images, the shirt is another Columbia fishing shirt, this time in Collegiate Navy. Can you tell I really like these shirts for my lifestyle? This was another Amazon purchase for me, for a very good price on the day I purchased it.
The two different hats are from Solumbra. Solumbra has a wide range of sun protective clothing, but overall I find them to be relatively expensive and not particularly flattering. “Free shipping” with orders of $175.00 or more doesn’t seem particularly “free” to me. However, I do like Solumbra’s hats for real sun protection that is not overly ugly. Every now and then Solumbra has a flash offer for honestly free shipping, and that is when I’ll order a hat I may have been watching. I do think Solumbra has the best sun protective hats I have found so far.
Shortly after my birthday in the fall I came face-to-face with the reality of sun damage from the Light I have so loved all of my life. I intend to continue being out of doors for photography and gardening for the rest of my life. However, I am learning – still in the process – how to protect my eyes and skin in whatever ways I can, such as with wearable sun protection in addition to sunscreen, which I will be much more religious about applying. Maybe some of you will consider wearable sun protection to be an option for your lifestyle also.
(For my friends who read both blogs, I intend to post this a little later on my gardening blog. It will be the exact same post. Thanks.)