A woman pours a bottle of water over herself.

How to Protect Your Skin Without Melting in Hot Weather

Everyone knows it’s been a very hot summer, and with temperatures this high, I would like nothing better than to dress for exercise like I used to: in tank tops and skorts or shorts. I gave most of my tank tops away long ago, keeping only a few that I wear in and around the house. It’s long sleeves for me. I’m not always happy about it.

I was hesitant

“I’m going to take my shirt off and play in my bra,” I said to a friend at tennis the other day. It was an evening lesson but still in the high 80's. “You said that last week. Go ahead and do it,” she said. I actually could have done it; most exercise bras could also be bathing suit tops. I just didn’t do it, though. I hadn’t applied sunscreen to my stomach or back, for starters. And I was feeling modest.

A reminder of what UPF means

I sweated in a long-sleeved sun protection shirt, one of those that say "UPF 50-plus." I keep having to look up exactly what this means. Maybe it’s not clear to you either. So here it is again, courtesy of the Skin Cancer Foundation:

“Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) indicates how much UV radiation (both UVB and UVA) a fabric allows to reach your skin. For example, a UPF 50 fabric blocks 98 percent of the sun’s rays and allows two percent (1/50th) to penetrate, thus reducing your exposure risk significantly.”

Staying protected without being too hot

There are, however, ways of staying protected while not being so hot. I discovered one the other day when I wore a white shoulder wrap, from Solbari, that my boyfriend gave me. You put your arms into a thin piece of fabric that wraps around your shoulders. Then you put your short-sleeved shirt on top. For some reason, this felt more breathable than a one-piece shirt. You could also get just sleeves to put on under your short-sleeved shirt. You could put sunscreen on your arms and take the sleeves off towards the end of your activity. I imagine that other companies sell these too.

Layering can be key

Layering like you would do in cold weather also could help. For example, you could start out with a jacket made of sun protective material. When you got done with part of your run or whatever you were doing, you could remove the jacket and tie it around your waist or put it on a bench if you are playing tennis or pickleball. You’d have had a lot of covering in the first part of your activity, and if you applied sunscreen, ample protection for your arms when you took one layer off to get more of a breather.

Keeping it cool

Cooling neck gaiters and cooling neck towels that activate when you wet them with water are a good addition. You won’t have any trouble finding them: A search for “cooling cloth for neck during exercise” garnered 22,800,000 results (0.57 seconds).You’ll also be cooler in white or light colors and in loose-fitting clothes.

Hydration is so important

And don’t forget to hydrate! For extra coolness on a hot day, you might do what my tennis friend did the other day: pour the water on yourself. You just have to remember to refill and drink, and also make sure that it isn’t flavored Gatorade that you are about to pour on your head. Or on your white shirt.

I have tried various brands and have to say that none live up to their claim of being comfortable.
Have you found any? Some come close. My most comfortable one is made of recycled glass. Tell us in the comments.

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