One Saturday morning I planned to take my daughters on a hiking trip. Not a big one, but a nice leisurely adventure to Matthew Winters Park off the Morrison, CO exit. I slipped my girls into their UV Skinz, lathered on the sunscreen, packed a picnic and loaded them into the car. The day was turning out to be an awesome sun-shiny day! Once we hit the highway we could all feel the sun beating down on us through the windshields. With no other protection from the rays I was so glad Journey and Faith had their UV Skinz on. The car ride was about thirty minutes and once we reached the hiking grounds we were so glad to be out of the car! We enjoyed playing (in the shade) by the creek and took a fifteen minute walk up the trail and back.

A few weeks before our trip an article was passed along to me that discussed whether or not you could be sunburned through your car windows. I’m African-American and I’m sure I wouldn’t actually “burn”, but after feeling the heat of the sun through the car window for almost an hour the nice warm feeling started to become bothersome. I was more worried about my daughters who are fairer-skinned than me.

I found out that most car manufacturers install laminated windshields that filter out uv light. They mostly filter UVB light, but not the skin-damaging skin cancer causing UVA rays. UVA rays can damage your skin without your knowing for a long time after the initial exposure. Specialist advise you to wear sunscreen if you are driving in most of the Northern states for more than twenty minutes and even less for Southern states. Living in Colorado I think that puts us somewhere in the middle. Luckily, we had applied sunscreen mostly for the purpose of the hike and the girls were wearing uv-protective swim shirts which put my mind at ease.

A worry-free hike!

So, there is still the question of what exactly are the dangers of sun exposure through a car window? A group of 1,000 participants were studied to find out more about what kind of sun damage could occur while driving. It can be found in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology It concluded that people who spent the most time driving a car each week were “more likely to develop skin cancers on the left-side of their bodies and faces.” Another study collected by the National Cancer Institute in the same journal found the same “predilection for left-sided cancers”, but saw a stronger link in men suggesting that women took more precautions (like wearing sunscreen) and had “more distributed sun exposure from possibly spending more time in the passenger seat.” Even though it’s a good idea to lather on the sunscreen before getting into the car–sunburns are not likely, but deep-penetrating UVA sun damage is a high possibility.

Here are some tips to keep you and your family sun-safe while in the car (and outdoors):

  • Apply and re-apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going outside or driving more than 20 minutes in the car.
  • Avoid peak-hours of the day, between 10am-4pm
  • Wear uv-protective sunglasses, wide-brimmed hats and uv-protective clothing.

UV Skinz long-sleeved swim shirts are a great solution to long summer road trips. They can be easily slipped on and off, will give you all-day sun protection and can even double as an outfit!