The proof is impossible to ignore — if you want to avoid skin-related cancers and fight sun damage and signs of aging, you need to be proactive.
Lotions and long sleeves are just the tip of the sun protection iceberg. Dr. Sheila Nazarian and The Skin Spot help you break down the various industry terms and suggest their favorite sun protection clothes.
Essential Reasons to Protect Your Skin
More often than ever, people prefer to spend time outside in various weather conditions. For work or recreation, it's easy to overlook the need for sun protection.
The Skin Cancer Foundation lists prevention as the number one way to protect yourself against skin cancers, as sustaining only five sunburns can double your risk for melanoma. Sun protection clothes are an effective method of blocking the sun’s harmful UVA and UVB rays.
A Safe and Simple Way to Keep the Sun's Rays at Bay
If you enjoy beach vacations, swimming, or other outdoor activities, you’ve likely struggled with practicing proper sun protection. Sunscreen needs to be reapplied every two hours to be effective. Utilizing physical barriers in the form of protective clothing ensures you never have to remember to reapply.
Also, many chemical sunscreens require application 20-30 minutes before getting sun exposure. These wearable sun protection methods ensure instant and effective sun protection as soon as you walk outside.
Sun protection clothes can block nearly 100% of the sun’s harmful rays with properly rated sun protection clothing like gloves, long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and wide-brim sun hats.
What Does Sun Protective Clothing Do?
The sun’s rays are powerful and can penetrate traditional fabrics' weaves. UPF clothing uses fabrics that filter out more than 90% of the sun’s UV light, with many blocking up to 98% of UV radiation. Protective clothing is an effective form of protecting your skin from harmful UV rays.
UV Index Explained
While you can’t see UV light, prolonged exposure to ultraviolet radiation is a significant risk factor for skin cancers. The Skin Cancer Foundation warns about two types of UV radiation.
- UVA: Ultraviolet A (UVA) rays have a longer wavelength and cause signs of aging
- UVB: Ultraviolet B (UVB) rays have a shorter wavelength and are responsible for burning skin
What Does SPF Rating Mean?
SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor, which is the rating system for sun protection products like sunblock and sunscreen.
SPF is a simple way to determine how long you can expect sun protection after applying a product like sunscreen. The higher the SPF rating, the longer the product will protect you from the sun.
Which SPF Should I Use?
If your skin burns after ten minutes in the sun, correctly applying SPF 15 will provide approximately 150 minutes of protection. If you apply SPF 50, you can expect roughly 500 burn-free minutes in the sun.
It’s important to keep in mind that most sun protection products instruct you to reapply every two hours for the best results. Ensuring even and complete coverage is crucial for effective protection.
With sun protection built into your clothes, you can adventure outdoors without worrying about how long you’ve been soaking up the sun.
What Does UPF Rating Mean?
Ultraviolet Protection Factor, or UPF, is the rating system given to clothing and other apparel that protects the wearer from UVA and UVB radiation. UPF is sometimes referred to as a garment protection factor (GPF). All sun protection articles of clothing will have the UPF listed on the label. The higher the UPF rating, the more radiation is prevented from reaching your skin.
UPF Ratings Listed on Clothing Labels
Percent of the sun’s UV Rays Blocked
UPF 15 & 20
Very Good Protection
UPF 25, 30, 35
UPF 40, 45, 50, 50+
How Does UPF Clothing Work?
Not all colors provide equal protection. Light-colored clothing and loosely woven fabrics do not provide much protection, while darker colors absorb more UV radiation before it reaches the skin.
Densely woven fabrics like denim or canvas protect more effectively than sheer or loose-fitting apparel.
Clothing with a UPF rating should be washed and dried as instructed on the label. Many clothing companies warn against fabric softeners or drying on warm settings as it can reduce effectiveness.
How to choose UV Protective Clothing?
When buying sun-protective apparel, UPF ratings are essential but not the only factor. Fashion choices aside, look for:
- Tightly Woven Fabric that Dries Quickly
- Protective and Versatile Pieces
- Durable Fabrics
- Hooded Tops
- The Skin Cancer Foundation’s d
The Best Sun Protection Clothing Available
There is a sea of information out there about UPF clothing and trying to find your best fit might be difficult. Here are a few of our favorite sun protection clothing options.
With a sleek, eye-catching style, the Bluestone Sunshield offers full face coverage for maximum safeguard against more than 99% of UV rays. Perfect for those who need to protect post-procedure skin and those who want maximum anti-aging benefits to maintain their youthful appearance.
Bluestone offers their shields in Full face and Shorty versions in colors like black, gold, and Mermaid. A clear option is perfect for outdoor professionals who desire protection while they serve their clients.
The unisex, one-size-fits-most shields can be worn down for full coverage or up like a visor for a more comfortable and personalized fit.
Uvida’s High-Low Element Shrug
Sun protection outfits don’t have to be boring with the Uvida High-Low Element Shrug top. With over 50 UPF, you can look cute, stay active, and stay protected from the sun’s rays.
With neck protection and a stylish hem, this coverup is both stylish and sensible. It even works in chlorinated and salt water!
REI’s Co-op Sahara Shade Hoodie
Even with lighter color options, the Sahara Shade Hoodie provides:
- UPF 50+ fabric;
- Stretchy, supersoft knit that dries fast and wicks moisture;
- Thumb loops and a hood with an internal drawstring keep you covered while you move;
- Antimicrobial properties to help fight odor-causing germs;
Nazarian Skin Sun Protection Gloves
Our hands are often overlooked when we think of sun protection. Dr. Nazarian and her team developed these stylish, reversible black and gold UPF 50+ gloves.
Keep your hands looking youthful and healthy without sacrificing fashion. The breathable, lightweight Italian fabric keeps you cool and protected against harmful UV rays. Carry these high-quality protective gloves in your purse to guarantee protection when
- Enjoying a day in the sun
- Getting a gel manicure (to protect against UV light)
The versatility and stylish design of these gloves allow you to make a fashion statement while preventing early signs of aging in the hands during the day. You can even wear them in the evening to add a touch of glamor and elevate your outfit when going out with the girls!
In business for over twenty years, Coolibar is one of the first clothing companies to take on sun-protective clothing. They’ve perfected their UV protection in style, with various aesthetically pleasing designs for every garment you can think of - and some you can’t!
The Skin Cancer Foundation gives Coolibar its seal of recommendation, so you can ditch the worry and enjoy your time outside.
Who can benefit from UPF Clothing?
UPF clothing is beneficial for people who often work and play outside, like:
- Gardeners and Farmers
- Warm Season Athletes
- Outdoor Enthusiasts
- Campers and Hunters
UV protective clothing is perfect for those with sensitive skin or who are predisposed to skin cancers and other skin diseases.
Sun Protection Clothing FAQ
What clothing is best for sun protection?
Hats are essential, as the skin on our face and neck receives the most exposure to the sun.
Is sun-protective clothing worth it?
Sun protection clothing is an easy and effective way to help block cancer-causing UV rays and signs of aging.
What is the best sun protection T-shirt?
The best sun protection t-shirts are dark in color and made of tightly woven fabric. UPF 50 or higher will provide the most protection from UV rays.
What color fabric is best for sun protection?
Not all fabrics are created equal. Darker fabrics absorb more UV radiation than light-colored clothes, preventing the radiation from penetrating your skin.
Are sun shirts breathable?
Most sun protection clothing is made with the weather in mind, providing breathable fabric to keep you more relaxed in the heat.