Summer safety: How to tell when your UPF clothing, sunglasses lose their protection quality over time

Why some clothes and sunglasses may lose protection

HOUSTON – Dermatologists recommend skin protective clothing in the sun, like rash guards and fishing shirts. However, if it’s been more than a couple of years since you purchased it, it might not be protecting you very well.

Dermatologist Dr. Mary Alice Hickson with Kelsey-Seybold said clothing with UPF can be used in place of sunscreen.

“It’s a great option, especially with kids (and) especially if you’re going to be doing activities outside for long hours on end,” Dr. Hickson said. “Another great population this is good for is people who are out on the water, whether they’re sailing or fishing. The water is going to reflect even more UV radiation and being wet, salt, sun, can make sunscreen less effective so the clothing (as long as you’re wearing it) is going to give you that protection.”

UPF clothing doesn’t last forever.

Dr. Hickson said the tags may indicate how many washes until the garment loses effectiveness.

If you don’t have that information, she said to watch for wearing or fading, which would indicate the item is less protective.

You also need UVA and UVB protection on your sunglasses. That will protect your eyes from tumors, cataracts, cancer and potentially losing your vision. After a couple of years, sunglasses lose the quality of UV protection, too.

“If the glass has been exposed to the sun for so many years or so many hours, the effectiveness is going to fade. So, definitely, if you have a trip coming up, a beach trip, maybe purchase another pair of sunglasses before you go,” Dr. Hickson said.

The good news is medical experts agree that the price point does not matter when it comes to sunglasses, even the cheapest sunglasses you find with UV protection will get the job done.

There are some at-home tests you can do with a UV flashlight to determine if your sunglasses are still protecting your vision. Or you can take your glasses to your eye doctor and see if they can test the quality with a spectrometer.