Skin is in. And it’s worth protecting.
Stefani Schuetz, an avid triathlete, was diagnosed with stage 2 melanoma when she was just 25 years old, otherwise a picture of health. “I would train outside in Florida in a sports bra and shorts. I was aware of skin cancer risks, but my idea of skin cancer was something that happened when you are 70 years old.”
Her time outdoors had likely played a role in her diagnosis. Long hours of running, biking and swimming had left her skin vulnerable to dangerous UVA/UVB rays, and melanoma brought her active lifestyle to a screeching halt. Stefani took time off for treatment, and after being given the all clear noticed that getting back to her fitness routine was challenging in a completely different way. “I wore a tri top tank top, cooling sleeves, cycle shorts, and socks pulled up as high as they would go to try to stay covered and still missed spots.” So she did what any intrepid go-getter would do: she started her own company, Tri Sirena, making sun protective clothing so that athletes could focus on swimming faster, riding harder and running farther – and looking great while doing it.
A few years ago, UPF clothing was hard to find. Now, it’s popping up everywhere – and with good reason. Made to protect your skin from harmful UVA/UVB rays, UPF clothing is similar to SPF for your skin. The higher the UPF rating, the better these fabrics protect against harmful UVA/UVB light, either through their tightly woven fabrics or through treatments applied to the fabric that boosts its sun protection. According to Jennifer Haley, MD, “UPF clothing is far preferable than sunscreen because it provides better coverage and is a better barrier to UV radiation. While a white t-shirt is about an SPF7, there are some wonderful options out there for UPF clothing.”
Ok – I know what you’re thinking. I’m going to be sweltering, melting and overheating in two seconds flat wearing long sleeves during my run or sporting pants to spin class. Thanks to tech advancements, many fabrics can even decrease your core temperature by several degrees to help you stay comfortable and safe.
With melanoma on the rise as one of the most common types of cancer among young women, there’s no reason not to protect yourself, especially with options that are stylish, affordable and versatile enough to transition from indoor to outdoor, whether or not you’re an endurance athlete. Because we all know how easy it can be to forget to apply sunscreen, especially if you’re headed to a boxing class, not thinking about the hours you’ll spend running errands after.
The perfect indoor to outdoor leggings, in options for every body size
K-Deer Leggings: $98
Keep your clothing light as you protect from UVA/UVB light
Yes – you’re in the sun already. But it can’t hurt to add extra protection (and please, add a hat!)
Cycling and Triathlon
Spend long hours on the bike protecting yourself in style.
Don’t forget – for skin that can’t be covered with clothing (um, hello your gorgeous face), SPF is an absolute must. Sunscreens are now tailored to how you live your life, so you can wear them as you head to work, head out marathon training to hit up a night on the town. Check out SkinCeuticals, Glossier’s newly launched everyday sunscreen, and Supergoop’s tinted varieties.
“While UPF clothing can help so much, it’s not the only step you should take,” says Schuetz. “Don’t think you’re too young to start going to the dermatologist. Getting annual skin checks is one of the best things you can do to avoid skin cancer.”