I happened to be watching a fishing show and noticed a person on the boat wearing what looked like some type of mask.

Now, why in the heck is that guy hiding his face from the camera, I thought; he looked more like a bank robber than a fisherman.

In fact, he was intentionally shielding his face from the damaging effects of the sun’s ultraviolet rays.

Having visited the dermatologist recently for a routine checkup of my skin and leaving with seven stitches near my temple, I’ve realized that I must do a better job of preventing skin cancer. And, this was not my first bout with the dreaded condition brought on by the sun.

A couple of years ago I underwent chemotherapy on my face whereby a topical cream brought out pre-cancerous spots to the surface of the skin, making my face look more like a pizza pie than that guy I’ve seen in the mirror all these years. It was a grueling experience!

I’ve tried all the sunscreen creams and sprays but they do have drawbacks, including wearing off during use. Most sunscreen product instructions recommend re-applying every two hours or sooner. Then, of course, there is the mess associated with applications and the ongoing cost. Maybe that fisherman on TV was on to something.

As consumers learn more about protecting themselves from the sun’s ultraviolet rays (UV), sun protective clothing is becoming more popular. However, the fabric employed uses a UPF rating system that is similar to that of sunscreens using an SPF rating system.

The fabric in sun protective clothing uses a UPF rating system to communicate the protective strength of a particular garment. UPF 50 means that the garment allows only 1/50 (2%) of the sun’s harmful UV radiation to pass through the garment.

An alternative to the lotions and sprays seemed to make sense, so I purchased a face shield from Fish Monkey performance fishing gear. I’ve been wearing the bank-robber attire religiously when outdoors for more than five minutes and here’s what I’ve learned.

Apart from the no-mess aspects of the face shield, it’s a simple matter to slip the stretch fabric in place and to pull it down around the neck if a cool drink is needed. It’s also advertised to have a cooling effect, if wet, and it certainly does.

The fabric had become a bit soiled from use and after a gentle cleaning and rinsing, I slipped it on while still wet. Immediately, I noticed a cool, refreshing feeling that increased as I rode my ATV.

Because every person is unique, each has his or her own risk level regarding the sun. Things like family medical history, skin type, personal medical history, medication and geographical location can affect how susceptible a person may be to the sun’s harmful UV radiation.

With this in mind, it’s good advice to consult with your doctor, but protective clothing is worth a second look — and what a look it can be.

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