Sun protective clothing is specifically designed to block out UV rays and is often made from fabric that has a UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) rating. This rating indicates how much UV radiation a piece of clothing can block, with a higher number meaning more protection. Wearing Sun protective clothing is an easy way to protect your skin from sun damage and reduce your risk of skin cancer.
Yes, your clothing shields you from the Sun, but not all fabrics and colors provide equal protection. When shopping for apparel that can effectively shield you from harmful rays, keep these factors in mind:
Color: Dark or bright colors keep UV rays from reaching your skin by absorbing them rather than allowing them to penetrate. That’s why these colors offer better protection than lighter shades.
Construction: Densely woven cloth, like denim, canvas, wool or synthetic fibers, are more protective than sheer, thin or loosely woven cloth. Check a fabric’s sun safety by holding it up to the light. If you can see through, UV radiation can easily penetrate the fabric and reach your skin.
Content: The composition of your fabric really matters. Unbleached cotton contains natural lignins that act as UV absorbers. Shiny polyesters and even lightweight satiny silks can be highly protective because they reflect radiation. High-tech fabrics treated with chemical UV absorbers or dyes prevent some penetration from UV rays.
Fit: Loose-fitting apparel is preferable. Tight clothing can stretch and reduce the level of protection offered, as the fibers pull away from each other and allow more UV light to pass through.
UPF: Some clothing makers provide UPF labels, which indicate exactly how much of the sun’s rays the garment can shield. Look for our Seal of Recommendation whenever you shop.
Coverage: The more skin your outfit covers, the better your protection. Whenever possible, choose long-sleeved shirts and long pants or skirts.
Activity: Regardless of UPF, if your clothing gets stretched or wet, it will lose some of its protective ability and become more transparent, exposing your skin to more UV light.