Protect My arms
May 9, 2018 11:51 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking to keep myself from sunburn while staying cool this summer. Is there a magical shirt that will do this?

My freckled, Irish skin sunburns easily but have not worried much about my arms until recently, as I sunburned while riding my bike on the first sunny day of the Spring. I'm already putting specialized pricey sunscreen on my face after years of trial and error of what work and doesn't sting. I can put sunscreen on my arms too, but it feels like overkill for every day/running outsode for 30 minutes, and even the dry touch stuff leaves a white crumbly mess. I'm trying to cover up more with clothes and hats, but I get awfully hot, turn bright red, and feel terrible when wearing lots of clothes in the heat.

Do you have a favorite brand and style of SPF-embedded shirt that will cover my arms and most of my hands and is thin/breathable enough not to cause heat exhaustion? This would be for gardening, city biking, long walks and hiking in the mountains—not for work or "exercising" or sports. It would be great if it isn't $100, but I'm willing to entertain one expensive nice thing if that's what it takes. Must come in a women's L or XL.

I am a REI member, and also have access to Patagonia, Moose Jaw, Uncle Dan's, and all the other normal shops you'd find in Chicago. I've spent a lot of time looking online but it's hard to tell the weight and fit. I've looked at REI in person and everything felt too heavy for summer—this was a few weeks ago so must Spring/summer merchandise should have been out.

Bonus points for a hat that won't overheat, covers my face, but doesn't look grandma-ish/folksy and is more stylish than a suburban mom might wear.
posted by Bunglegirl to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (17 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
I'm a man with pale skin that burns easily. I get super overheated easily, and even wearing sunscreen on bare arms isn't enough if it's sunny enough - sure I might not get burnt but the hot sun on my skin truly hurts.

For around-town activities in the summer I will generally wear chambray, oxford, linen, seersucker, or madras fabric long-sleeved button-down shirts, almost entirely from Lands End, almost all less than $50 each (sometimes $15 on sale). With button-down shirts you can adjust to the sun, wind, A/C, and differing levels of activity by rolling and unrolling sleeves, and opening/closing a few top buttons.

For super active and potentially wet-making things in the sun, I wear a tight, slip-on, 1/2 zippered Nike long-sleeved shirt that's a synthetic, sort of jersey-ish material. If I have access to water I will wet my forearms or the entire shirt for additional cooling. I've climbed mountains in it and done a lot of rafting.

In Chicago I'd stick with madras, seersucker, and linen since they are either wrinkly to let air flow and keep it off your skin, or let enough air through.
posted by MonsieurBon at 12:09 PM on May 9, 2018

I wear Under Armour Sunblock long sleeved shirts. They are very thin, and they don’t make me hot in Baja California Sur, where it is very, very hot outside. They last a long time and they work. I also suffer easily from heat exhaustion and these shirts don’t bother me.
posted by vivzan at 12:55 PM on May 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

For hats, I like Coolibar.
posted by vivzan at 12:59 PM on May 9, 2018

Athleta has a line of 50+ UPF tops that I have gotten a lot of good wear out of - I find them to be very breathable in the humid/hot south. I only wear the tank styles personally, but it looks as though they have long sleeved options that cover the top of the hands as well. In would recommend wash in cold water and tumble or air dry.
posted by gollie at 1:08 PM on May 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

I have a friend who had some horrific skin cancer removed from her face last year and is now so good at avoiding UV the sun can't even find her. She wears clothes that she likes and owns an array of arm protectors that are meant for sports, so they're moisture-wicking cool-feel. They come in neutral colors, crazy patterns (might as well go for it, right?), tattoo sleeves, various lengths, hand-covering and not.

They're a more flexible option, assuming your existing clothing isn't extremely UV-permeable, and they're a lot cheaper per pair than the full shirts are.
posted by Lyn Never at 1:23 PM on May 9, 2018 [3 favorites]

I wear Coolibar long sleeve tops and Tilley hats. (Be sure to get light colors in whatever tops and hats you wind up buying.)

I buy a size up from my normal size in the long sleeved tops, because I'm a sweaty person in general, and I tend to sweat more in close fitting garments of whatever type.
posted by gudrun at 1:28 PM on May 9, 2018

I recently bought the Prana long-sleeve Eileen top and it's great. I thought it would be swimsuit material and indeed bought it intending to use as a swim top, but it's a very light matte fabric that would be ideal for around-town use or hiking. It's very light and extremely breathable.

I also like the fit quite a bit--I'm still carrying about 15 pounds of postpartum weight (especially around my belly) and the shirt is cut well to avoid bagginess without being even a little clingy around the waist, which feels rare to me these days. (Athleta in particular seems to not have any tops right now that don't cling in a way that shows every lump.) My only beef is that I wish it were slightly longer, but I'm pretty tall and long-waisted so I'm guessing that's not an issue for most people.
posted by iminurmefi at 1:37 PM on May 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

frankly any shirt that covers the skin works, per my Dr.
posted by patnok at 1:43 PM on May 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

SolUmbra is a whole web site devoted to SPF clothing.
posted by bruceo at 1:50 PM on May 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

It's pricey, but I backpacked the Grand Canyon in 90-100 weather in an Ex Officio Sol Cool Hoody, and I didn't burn or collapse of heat exhaustion (both of which I'm very susceptible to). I bought an earlier model at a discount, so that might be worth looking into. I will say, mine is long and looks kind of funny, it looks like the new ones might be better proportioned. I did kind of look like a muppet with the hood up. It has thumb holes, so you can keep the backs of your hands covered, which is nice.
posted by natabat at 1:57 PM on May 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

For sunscreen, have you tried any of the Japanese sunscreens? I wear it every day on my very easily burned face/neck/arms and it smells good, goes on easily and isn’t sticky or goopy at all.
posted by MadamM at 2:44 PM on May 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

You don't need a whole new shirt! I just ordered these sun sleeves. They take very little space to take with, and work with all of your existing shirts. UPF 50 means they block about 99% of the sunlight, you can't get any higher short of being indoors. They also have fingerless versions.

FYI SPF is not the right search term for clothing, UPF is. And if you like Uniqlo, their term is UV Cut.
posted by rada at 2:46 PM on May 9, 2018 [2 favorites]

Seconding Uniqlo -- this Airism mesh hoodie is tolerable for walks and great for hikes. It's a little hot for biking or running, but if you don't run too hot and if the weather's not too brutal, you should be okay. Bonus: can unzip to let in breeze, sleeves have thumbholes so you get good back-of-the-hands coverage.
posted by halation at 3:21 PM on May 9, 2018 [2 favorites]

I live in the desert and I'm a big fan of Columbia's shirts. I have some of the Tamiami shirts and they are sooooo light, sun protective at UPF 40 or 50, and vented. If you look around online you may find them on clearance for good prices. I love these shirts.
posted by azpenguin at 3:32 PM on May 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

Any long sleeve, thin cotton or rayon top in a floaty style? To me all the "spf" and sport fabrics are way too hot.

Here's a search on Macy's com for long sleeve tops in a "peasant" style (which usually means floaty and light cotton or rayon fabric.) To me, something like this would be on point; there are a ton of them in this search.
posted by fingersandtoes at 3:40 PM on May 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

I really appreciate Outdoor Gear Lab's reviews. They have a set of them for sun shirts and a set of them for sun hats.
posted by lilies.lilies at 4:16 PM on May 10, 2018

I second the recommendation for sun sleeves, many cycling shops sell them. I wear them almost every time I go for a ride. I've used them for 12+ hour rides with no problems. I also wear the sun stockings (leg sleeves?). My brand is sugoi and I'm a big dude so cycling stuff tends to not fit me well but the sugoi ones ran true to size and the XL leg and arm ones fit me. My partner wears a women's medium in the same brand. Most cycling stores should have a selection to try on. They are a really thin and feel much better than sunscreen to me.
posted by glip at 5:18 AM on May 11, 2018

« Older Help me do right by my cat with congestive heart...   |   Home appraisal to remove PMI - good idea? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.