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About the Author

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Mary Mills Barrow

My name is Mary Mills Barrow. I’m a wife and mother of three, a full-time writer and sun protection activist. I studied in the United States and in Australia and it was in Australia that I first became aware of the problems caused by unprotected exposure to the sun. (Australia has the highest incidence of skin cancer in the world.) When I returned to the U.S. with my entrepreneurial husband, I was horrified at the epidemic of preventable skin cancer here.

With my husband, I co-authored “Sun Protection For Life: Your Guide To A Lifetime Of Healthy & Beautiful Skin” (New Harbinger Publications). Although certainly not a best seller, the book provides the framework for skin cancer prevention and detection habits and introduced the acronym “SunAWARE” which was later endorsed by a number of not-for-profit organizations working in the field including the Dermatology Nurses Association, the Children’s Melanoma Prevention Foundation, and The Melanoma International Foundation. The book also won our first Gold Triangle award from the American Academy of Dermatology.

In addition to “Sun Protection for Life,” I’ve written two books aimed at children and teens which incorporate the SunAWARE acronym and will help educate young people about the importance of beginning good sun protection habits early in life. These books won the Gold Triangle Award from the American Academy of Dermatology this year.

In the meantime, my husband and I founded Coolibar, a sun protective clothing company. Although I am no longer active in the running of the company, I believe Coolibar offers the best sun protective clothing on the market today and I will occasionally discuss its products, although always with the caveat that I do have an interest in the company. In that spirit, I’ll mention that Coolibar was just awarded the Seal of Recognition for its clothing from the American Academy of Dermatology, the first sun protective clothing company to be so recognized.

Currently, I’m working with a variety of organizations, including the Children’s Melanoma Prevention Foundation to develop classroom lessons for each of the five steps in the SunAware acronym.

The Author's web site

Best Boomer Towns Columns

What is Sun Protective Clothing?

You may have heard the term "sun protective clothing" and thought, isn't all clothing sun protective? Simply, the answer to this question is no. All clothing is not created equal when it comes to sun protection.

There are a number of factors that affect the level of ultraviolet protection provided by a fabric. In order of importance these are: weave (tighter is better), color (darker is better), weight (also called mass or cover factor - heavier is better), stretch (less is better) and wetness (dry is better). Recently, the addition of chemicals such as UV absorbers or UV diffusers during the manufacturing process has become another important way to create UV protection in summer fabrics.

Regular summer clothing does not always provide sun protection. In fact, most regular summer clothing provides poor protection against ultraviolet radiation. Many open-weave, light-weight summer fabrics, like those used for t-shirts, provide less UV protection than an SPF 15 sunscreen. In addition, summer clothing - sleeveless blouses, backless sun-dresses, shorts, bikinis, t-shirts are clearly not designed for sun protection. A major goal for sun protective clothing designs is to cover as much skin as possible while still making the garment cool, comfortable and fashionable. Regular summer clothing styles are typically designed to expose skin - arms, neck, shoulders - rather than cover it.

The most comfortable sun protective fabrics are typically sophisticated, technical fabrics that are lightweight, cool and easy to wear. Coolibar, the most recommended and tested sun protective clothing company, has embedded zinc oxide (ZnO), a natural mineral compound with well-established sun protection properties, into the fibers of natural cotton and bamboo to create ZnO SUNTECT® fabric. Coolibar also developed lite SUNTECT® fabric which is light-weight and highly protective because it contains a UV diffuser - titanium dioxide - embedded in the microfibers. Coolibar's aqua SUNTECT® fabric is a knit swim fabric that stretches but contains no lycra so holes do not appear in the fabric as it ages in salt and chlorinated water. The entire portfolio of Coolibar SUNTECT® fabrics provide sophisticated sun protection and is rated to block 98% of harmful UV rays for maximum protection.

Sun protective clothing is economical, environmentally friendly and the most effective way to protect your skin from the harm caused by UVR. Sun protective clothing is also recommended first by both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Dermatology as the most effective means of sun protection. Be sure to use broad spectrum sun screen on any skin left exposed and wear a hat and sunglasses.

It's never too late to protect your skin, and by doing so, you may help prevent skin cancer.

 

 

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