Spending long hours outside in the hot sun can certainly have its benefits (think Vitamin D and circadian rhythm), but as farmers who spend nearly all of their working hours in the midday sun, farmers simply do not have the time for sunburn. It’s an absolute necessity to take precautions to protect our skin if we hope to return to the fields day after day, and thankfully, there are many ways that can help us care for our skin while getting all that work done.
Sun Protective Clothing
Not all clothes are created equal! While simply covering your skin with clothing seems like the logical way to keep the sun from damaging your skin, many traditional clothing materials, like cotton and even hemp, are not able to block UV rays over an extended period of time. However, sun protective clothing, often made from polyester and nylon, is designed to block both UVA and UVB rays based on its fiber type, construction, color and special treatments. Sun protective clothing will have a UPF rating, ultraviolet protection factor, similar to the familiar SPF. When shopping for sun protective clothing, you’ll find clothing items rated from UPF 15 through UPF 50–the higher the UPF, the better protection you’ll get. Most outdoors and athletic companies offer a wide-range of shirts and pants made with these materials. Incorporate a few UPF-rated items into your wardrobe as a way to protect your skin when you’re outside all day long.
A fun addition to your summer outerwear collection is a sun hat with a wide, 360 degree brim to keep those easy-to-burn areas from over-ripening in the sun. So often we forget about our scalp, ears, neck, nose, and even our eyes but these areas are actually the first to get skin cancer. With just a single accessory, the sun hat can keep your skin safe. Many sun hats even come in UPF materials for better protection. Who said farming isn’t fashionable?
Yes, staying out of the sun is simply not an option for us, so sunscreen should always be kept in stock and on hand. However, it’s important to read the labels on the sunscreen you purchase and try to buy a brand that contains natural ingredients versus synthetic chemicals. Most sunscreens on the market today contain dangerous chemicals that disrupt the body’s endocrine system and can lead to cancer themselves. The point of using sunscreen is to prevent skin damage and skin cancer not cause it, so look for sunscreens that use zinc oxide or titanium dioxide as the active SPF ingredients.
Whether you chose to use sunscreen or wear UPF protective clothing, taking care of yourself should be a priority when working outdoors day after day. The better we care for ourselves, the better we are able to care for others – it’s what all good farmers do.