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Sun sleeves?

Old 11-14-23, 09:06 AM
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Sun sleeves?

I admit, I often times forget to apply sunscreen while riding. Consequently, I just had a biopsy done on a spot on my forearm that the doctor says is "99% sure" to be basal cell carcinoma (skin cancer.) I'll know for sure in two weeks, and they will probably take a chunk of skin out of me. Luckily, it won't mess up any of my tattoos!
I'm considering getting a pair of sun sleeves but wonder if they really are too hot for summer riding. I have a pair of arm warmers for the cooler months, but I can't imagine using them during the summer.
Questions:
1) has anyone had experience wearing them in hotter (90+ degrees) climates?
2) is one brand better than another regarding SPF factor and blocking UV rays?
3) is white the best color for cooling while still providing protection from the sun?
4) recommendations for a particular brand you've had experience with?
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Old 11-14-23, 09:25 AM
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Originally Posted by Bald Paul
I admit, I often times forget to apply sunscreen while riding. Consequently, I just had a biopsy done on a spot on my forearm that the doctor says is "99% sure" to be basal cell carcinoma (skin cancer.) I'll know for sure in two weeks, and they will probably take a chunk of skin out of me. Luckily, it won't mess up any of my tattoos!
I'm considering getting a pair of sun sleeves but wonder if they really are too hot for summer riding. I have a pair of arm warmers for the cooler months, but I can't imagine using them during the summer.
Questions:
1) has anyone had experience wearing them in hotter (90+ degrees) climates?
2) is one brand better than another regarding SPF factor and blocking UV rays?
3) is white the best color for cooling while still providing protection from the sun?
4) recommendations for a particular brand you've had experience with?
I've been using white sun sleeves for years, including in 95 degrees F weather. They don't seem to be any warmer than bare arms. They can feel warm early in rides on hot days, but your body acclimates within a half-hour or so to where you don't notice your jersey, shorts, or sleeves any more, I find.

I believe that most of the sleeves listed on Amazon specify the SPF factor, but I've never bothered to compare them. Whatever I've bought has always protected my skin adequately, with at most the slightest hint of a tan. In any event, I've bought them more or less randomly, without noting the brand.

My only complaints are that they have a tendency to slide down from the upper arms and to be a little too short to boot.

Just started using a "fashion" version, where the sleeves are connected by an over-the-shoulder yoke, so they don't sag down from the upper arm, obviously. They're cheap enough to buy a pair from Amazon and try them out. If you want to try them, buy the largest size. Otherwise, they might leave too large a gap to your wrist.

There are also versions of sun sleeves that go over the wrist and hand, with a thumb hole. Haven't tried those.
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Old 11-14-23, 09:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Bald Paul
1) has anyone had experience wearing them in hotter (90+ degrees) climates?
Some people claim they have no problems with sunsleeves in warmer weather. Of course, there are also some people who say things like riding in an old, white dress shirt is cooler than anything else.

IME, though, sunsleeves are viable as sun blockers (and/or moderate arm warmers) up to about 80F. Above 85F, both the brands I've tried are much hotter than short sleeves and sunscreen. (Both are similar as far as sun blocking and cooling/heating, so I doubt the exact brands are important.) If you've got plenty of water, and not too long a ride, you can squirt water on the sleeves to supplement your sweat; but again in my experience, that only cools me for 5 minutes or so.

Two suggestions: first, try a pair and find out. They're not terribly expensive. Of course, if you can't remember sunscreen, I'm not sure how well you'll remember to take or to put on sunsleeves. Second, figure out how to carry sunscreen with you, and put it on when it's needed. I usually ride with a bar bag, and on longer rides I'll usually stop around 10:00 to put on sunscreen.
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Old 11-14-23, 10:38 AM
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Bad news, Bald Paul but glad you found it and got to the doc. I use either 70 spf goop or sleeves when I'm riding in serious sun. I think both are equally annoying. Sleeves are a bit hotter, but on high humidity days I think the goop sloughs off.
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Old 11-14-23, 10:56 AM
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Originally Posted by BTinNYC
Bad news, Bald Paul but glad you found it and got to the doc. I use either 70 spf goop or sleeves when I'm riding in serious sun. I think both are equally annoying. Sleeves are a bit hotter, but on high humidity days I think the goop sloughs off.
Yeah, it's about 3/8" around, and the doctor said he'll probably just cut it out and stitch it up.
One of the reasons I dislike applying sunscreen is getting it in my eyes if I have to wipe them during pollen season when they feel like I have sandpaper eyelids when I blink. There's always "residue" of it on my hands no matter how much I try to wipe it off after application.
I've heard that some people will squirt some water on the sleeves if it gets too hot, and that actually helps keep your arms cool.
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Old 11-14-23, 11:53 AM
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I use the Pearl Izumi sunsleeves and they actually stay up better on my skinny arms than any arm warmers I've owned. I also find them uncomfortably warm in temperatures above 80f or 85f when climbing (hard exertion, slow pace so little air movement). Otherwise I tolerate them, but it rarely gets to 90f where I live.
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Old 11-14-23, 01:08 PM
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I've ridden in 90+ degree weather in the past. I've never found them uncomfortably warm, and when the sun is shining bright, can actually be cooler than naked arms.

I can believe the hint about spraying water on them.

Example:

I wore them during a Bike MS (two day 175 mile) ride.

First day it was a coolish day, mid 70s, and POURING during the morning. But as soon as the rain stopped my arms got so cold I actually starting shivering. They dry quickly though.

Next day was in the 80s, 75 miles.

Another Pearl Izumi Sunsleeves user, white (only color I've ever worn).

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Old 11-14-23, 02:11 PM
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Sunscreen is better than nothing but with clothing there is far better protection for the skin. I use both neck gaiters and sleeves to protect my skin and this are made from thin material that breathes well enough. I don't sweat much from my forearms or my neck.

Black is the best color as it blocks far more of the UV rays (which is why it is black). Second best would be red material. White is the poorest at blocking UV passing through the material and damaging the skin.

Sun sleeves are not unusual for golfers who want to protect themselves. Buy the black ones and ignore the false SPF ratings on the white ones.

When I had a cancer removed from my forehead I noticed in the surgeon's waiting room that all the other men had cancer cells removed from the tops of their ears thank to wearing baseball caps, and the women all had the surgery done on their noses. If you are going to wear a hat buy a real one with a full brim.
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Old 11-14-23, 03:43 PM
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I wear Louis Garneau sun sleeves. Chemical sunscreens prevent sunburn but not skin cancers. Physically blocking is better, titanium and zinc sunscreens or clothing.
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Old 11-14-23, 04:41 PM
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I've used these Rockbros sun sleeves for years:
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07S345YRN...roduct_details

I find them definitely cooler than having direct sun on my arms. However, I live in a dry area so I think these work so well because they are good at spreading sweat around and then the evaporation cools. No idea how well they would work in a humid place.

Concerning sunscreen, consider using a mineral version. The brand I use happens to sell the more common chemical version as well. The packaging is very similar. A few years back I bought the chemical version by mistake and used it for a month or more without knowing. I eventually wonder what the heck is wrong with this stuff. It's not working as well, I'm hotter and sweatier using it. That's when I figured out it was not the mineral version.

I firmly believe the mineral sunscreens keep me cooler. They work by reflecting the sun. The chemical types absorb the UV and convert it to heat. Also, I assume the mineral reflect visible light which I don't think happens with chemical sunscreens.
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Old 11-14-23, 04:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Mmassey338
Chemical sunscreens prevent sunburn but not skin cancers.
Sunscreen doesn’t prevent skin cancer? Science (at least some science) says something different:

Use of sunscreen has been shown to reduce the incidence of both melanoma and nonmelanoma skin cancers.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7759112/

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Old 11-14-23, 05:08 PM
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Originally Posted by terrymorse
Sunscreen doesn’t prevent skin cancer? Science (at least some science) says something different:

Use of sunscreen has been shown to reduce the incidence of both melanoma and nonmelanoma skin cancers.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7759112/
Who funded the research? Always the key question to ask.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1070981/

https://undark.org/2019/06/12/science-sunscreen-public-trust-cancer/

https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2018/6/25/17500704/sunscreen-skin-cancer

squamous cell is least deadly

Last edited by Mmassey338; 11-14-23 at 05:12 PM.
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Old 11-14-23, 05:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Bald Paul
I admit, I often times forget to apply sunscreen while riding. Consequently, I just had a biopsy done on a spot on my forearm that the doctor says is "99% sure" to be basal cell carcinoma (skin cancer.) I'll know for sure in two weeks, and they will probably take a chunk of skin out of me. Luckily, it won't mess up any of my tattoos!
I'm considering getting a pair of sun sleeves but wonder if they really are too hot for summer riding. I have a pair of arm warmers for the cooler months, but I can't imagine using them during the summer.
Questions:
1) has anyone had experience wearing them in hotter (90+ degrees) climates?
I've been using them for nearly or just over 10 years. And in temps over 100°F.

The one caveat I always make for using sun sleeves is that you need to normally ride at a fast pace. If you are slower than 14 mph average for the conditions you ride, you probably won't like them. If you are a 16 mph average or higher you probably will like them. In between that and you might not or might like them. When ever I have a long climb in hot weather that has me slowed down to less than 10 mph, I sometimes choose to pull them down for better cooling. But it can be a pain to get them back up again properly while riding. So sometimes I put up with the extra heat when slow.

However reading your post's as long as I have, I get the impression you aren't a slow rider at all and I'd be very leery of passing you on the road and getting into a impromptu race!
2) is one brand better than another regarding SPF factor and blocking UV rays?
Of course. But I don't know what the current stuff is advertising. I'm going to have to get some more as mine are wearing out after 3 years of use. They'd probably last a year or two more, but hey, new stuff is nice... right?
3) is white the best color for cooling while still providing protection from the sun?
I'd think so. But other colors and prints might be better for certain fashion statements or your own eclectic personality.
4) recommendations for a particular brand you've had experience with?
The two pair I have now are Perl Izumi and Specialized. The specialized have plenty of extra length for my long arms. The P.I. are long enough, but just barely. However I like the thick and wide hem strip they put on the P.I.'s. It makes them less likely to wrinkle and roll up as you are trying to pull them on. But still I like both of them enough that I'd buy either.

Last edited by Iride01; 11-14-23 at 05:34 PM.
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Old 11-14-23, 05:40 PM
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Another PI sunsleeve user and for many years, many climbs up to 105°. So far PI are the best I've used. A somewhat funny little story: Perhaps some of you remember the fad for "cold black" a few years ago. So my wife and I were on our tandem at the 100 mile mark on a long event ride, about 105°, perhaps the hottest ever for this ride, when we caught up to a single rider, a tall slim guy wearing all cold black including sunsleeves and sunleggings. We were starting the final big climb, the heart breaker, and this guy was pedaling slowly, no hands, arms held straight out for cooling. We went around him and never saw him again. About 100 people were sagged off the ride that year and he was probably among them. We were wearing our sunsleeves and thin tight light colored jerseys. We were sweating pretty good, good for cooling. There was a water stop halfway up, TG.

We leave our legs bare and use sunscreen on them and our faces and necks, etc.
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Old 11-14-23, 06:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Mmassey338
squamous cell is least deadly
According to both my dermatologist and plastic surgeon, basal cell is the least dangerous, followed by squamous cell, with melanoma the worst.
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Old 11-14-23, 08:32 PM
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Originally Posted by pdlamb
According to both my dermatologist and plastic surgeon, basal cell is the least dangerous, followed by squamous cell, with melanoma the worst.
Yes, according to my doctor, basal cell is the least dangerous. It's also the most common form of cancer. It doesn't grow very quickly and rarely metastasizes. Some of them can even be treated with topical prescription creams instead of surgically removing them.
I guess if you have to get cancer, that's the type to get.
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Old 11-14-23, 08:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Iride01
However reading your post's as long as I have, I get the impression you aren't a slow rider at all and I'd be very leery of passing you on the road and getting into a impromptu race!
Don't believe everything you read! Many years ago I was capable of knocking out centuries in the hills in 5 hours or less, riding the bike I built with a Raleigh frame (Reynolds 531 double butted), Shimano 600 groupset with friction downtube levers and 19mm skin wall tires. (I still kick myself now and then about selling that bike) I can still maintain a decent speed on the flats, but there aren't a lot of those in Upstate SC, and my bad knee just won't allow me to push too many watts in the hills.
Just look at my tag line below, and you'll realize I'm no longer a threat!
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Old 11-14-23, 09:23 PM
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I used arm and leg sleeves when I lived and rode in the desert west of DFW. Sunscreen on all other exposed skin required re-application on all-day rides. It was frequently over 100F, with blazing sun from sunrise to sunset. Squiring a bit of water on them feels amazingly cool.

Granted this was extreme dry heat; a humid climate may be different.

Nonetheless, they get a big thumbs up from me.
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Old 11-14-23, 09:41 PM
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I find long-sleeve summer jerseys are cooler than sun sleeves.

Last edited by Polaris OBark; 11-15-23 at 09:19 AM.
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Old 11-15-23, 07:00 AM
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I have used sun sleeves for many years without issue. I live in Middle Tennessee and have never felt too warm but YMMV. While their cooling effects do work best in low humidity situations, they still provide the same sun protection at all times even in high humidity. The ones I have been using are the Voler Sol Skins.
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Old 11-15-23, 07:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Bald Paul
I admit, I often times forget to apply sunscreen while riding. Consequently, I just had a biopsy done on a spot on my forearm that the doctor says is "99% sure" to be basal cell carcinoma (skin cancer.) I'll know for sure in two weeks, and they will probably take a chunk of skin out of me. Luckily, it won't mess up any of my tattoos!
I'm considering getting a pair of sun sleeves but wonder if they really are too hot for summer riding. I have a pair of arm warmers for the cooler months, but I can't imagine using them during the summer.
Questions:
1) has anyone had experience wearing them in hotter (90+ degrees) climates?
2) is one brand better than another regarding SPF factor and blocking UV rays?
3) is white the best color for cooling while still providing protection from the sun?
4) recommendations for a particular brand you've had experience with?
I had a basal cell on my face a couple of years ago, and the doc told me it was the best bad news he could give me, because that type of skin cancer is very easy to deal with if you just get it done and don’t ignore it. Good luck with your surgery - on the arm, it should be a very basic procedure.

Because I am an excessively fair skinned red-head, I usually wear long sleeved shirts when out and about, playing tennis during sunlight hours, etc, but since starting regular road cycling, I’ve been wearing a lot more short sleeved jerseys. Sun screen is not an optional thing for me and my life - it’s just what I do, but I have been interested in trying sun sleeves as well (rather than buying all long sleeved jerseys, as they mostly seem made for cold weather).

When riding, I don’t usually put sunscreen on the backs of my hands because I’m wearing gloves. I apply the sun screen, wash my hands thoroughly, and then put on my gloves. The gloves are what I wipe my eyes with, rather than my fingers.
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Old 11-15-23, 09:21 AM
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I started wearing arm sleeves a few years ago. I bought some from Bellwether and they worked great. I live in Houston with heat and humidity. I used to wear wrist bands to slow the sweat from soaking my gloves but the arm sleeves do a much better job. The salt stains show how they wick away sweat. Currently I wear arm sleeves I bought at Academy Sports + Outdoors. They stretch quicker than the Bellwether ones but are good. I've had skin cancer on my forearm before wearing the arm sleeves.
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Old 11-16-23, 10:40 AM
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Originally Posted by mr_bill
I wore them during a Bike MS (two day 175 mile) ride.
They still have the MS 150 up there? I rode 3 years in a row, from Northern Essex Community College up through VT, then came back down through NH. It was always a good ride, until year 3 when some jerk pulling a 30 foot boat didn't realize you have to swing wide on a sharp right turn in Rye, NH. How do you explain to the doctor that you were hit by a boat while riding your bike?
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Old 11-16-23, 04:06 PM
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I live in rural New England where it can be 90 degrees and 85 percent humidity for much of the summer. I've also toured extensively across the southwest including Death Valley and the rest of the Mojave desert in September when it's still 100+ degrees.

I used tight, white sun blocking arm and leg covers in the desert. I don't remember the brand. I bought them at REI. They're especially good if you get them wet first for evaporative cooling, But then the humidity in the desert is between 3 and 13 percent. They would probably just stay wet and uncomfortable back home with the humidity.

The rule of thumb in the desert is light, loose fitting clothing; basically wearing your own source of shade. In New England,,or in the southeast where you live, I'd try both sun sleeves and light, loose-fitting and see which is less uncomfortable. Both will diminish your body's ability to shed heat through sweating. But both are more comfortable than sunscreen IMO. I hate greasy stuff on my skin.
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Old 11-20-23, 08:26 PM
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We live at 7500' in northern NM. I wear PI sun sleeves when I ride outside. I also wear lightweight full finger gloves and a cycling cap under my helmet. I wear long sleeves when I hike. Sunscreen always. I need to just start putting it on every day.
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