IF you have ever thought wearing sun-safe clothes was dorky, you are not alone.
But now fashion designers are making these skin-protecting clothes trendy.
Recent research conducted by Queensland University of Technology Fashion lecturer Dean Brough showed people would be more inclined to cover up if there were more fashionable options.
"Fashion is the forgotten part of the equation when it comes to sun protection, particularly adolescents," Mr Brough said.
One Coast fashion designer who has jumped on the bandwagon is Cate Young, of summerandsalt at Peregian Beach.
Her fashionable rashies are made from the highest-quality chlorine-resistant Italian lycra with a UPF 50+ rating as well as being eco-friendly.
"Our rash shirts can take you from the beach to a cafe or bar to the style, with the added benefit that they are quick-drying and breathable, and quite simply a lot of fun to wear," Ms Young said.
Cancer Council Queensland community services co-ordinator Clare Howard said she was encouraging to see fashion design aimed at providing greater sun protection to reduce skin cancer risks.
But she said there were strict requirements for adequate protection that needed to be met and buyers must be vigilant at checking the sun-protection ratings.
"The Cancer Council recommends clothing with an Ultraviolet Protection Factor rating of 50+, which provides the greatest protection from ultraviolet radiation," Ms Howard said.
The Cancer Council's SunSmart Shop also offers a great range of protective clothing that looks good and keeps people cool in summer.
"Queenslanders should take care to reduce their risks of skin cancer by remembering to Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek and Slide this summer - and beat the heat," Ms Howard said.
Figures show that more than 1600 Australians die from skin cancer each year and two in three Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer before age 70.
Mr Brough said 50-80% of a person's lifetime sun exposure occurred in childhood and teenage years, with images in the media of tanned models contributing to young people's reluctance to cover up.
He said peer acceptance for fashion norms, comfort, spontaneity and risk-taking behaviour contributed to adolescents' indifference towards sun-protective behaviour.
"Adolescents are concerned about their image. Research shows their clothing choices are driven by fashion trends rather than sun protection," Mr Brough said.
"We need to promote fashion first. It should just happen to be sun-safe as well."
Mr Brough, a born-and-raised Queenslander, has had personal experience with skin cancer.
He recently had a melanoma removed from his shoulder, but regular skin check-ups meant it was found early.
"During my teens, I had an enormous amount of sun, through my interests in sailing and boating," Mr Brough said.
"People back then weren't aware of sun protection. It has come back to haunt me, unfortunately."
He is encouraging emerging designers to incorporate sun-protective clothing into line.
"Fashionable sun-protective clothing means less people will be affected by skin cancer," he said.
- summer&salt on the David Low Way at Peregian Beach and at summerandsalt.com.au.
BEING SUN WISE
- The sun's rays are strongest between 10am and 4pm. Avoid being in direct sunlight during those times.
- You can use an extra dose of UV when you're around reflective surfaces like water, snow and sand.
- Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. Don't forget to reapply.
- Protect your face and neck by wearing a wide-brimmed hat.
- Wear loose-fitting clothes with a tight weave that cover as much of your body as possible.
- Protect your eyes with sunglasses.
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