Sun Protective Clothing

Sun protection comes in more than a spray can or lotion bottle. For superior sun protection, UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) clothing is the perfect addition to your sun care regimen. Regular clothing may provide some protection from UVA and UVB rays. However, radiation still penetrates the fabric and is absorbed by your skin.

Protect yourself from the sun – and look good while you’re doing it – with UPF clothing.

What Is UPF?

UPF is similar to SPF. It is the scale used to rate how well a fabric will protect your skin from sun exposure. UPF clothing is designed to offer more protection from UVA and UVB rays than traditional clothing. Just like SPF 50 sunscreen, a UPF 50 fabric allows 1/50 of the sun’s radiation to reach your skin.

UPF Clothing

Many apparel companies now offer a variety of clothing styles made with UPF fabric. Whether you’re looking for a dress shirt, T-shirt, sundress or fun hat, you’ll have plenty of choices for any occasion!

Sun protection is determined by the amount of material used to weave the fabric – the tighter the weave, the more protection. If you want something lightweight that breathes well but still provides sun protection, look for clothing with a UPF rating of 50 or less.

Who Can Benefit from UPF Clothing?

UPF clothing is perfect for anyone who is seeking increased protection from the sun, including: 

  • People who spend time at high elevation or on reflective surfaces like snow or water
  • People who are sensitive to UV exposure
  • People who hate putting on sunscreen – whether because of sensitive skin or personal preference
  • Children or individuals who cannot apply sunscreen themselves
  • People taking medications that will make them more sensitive to UV light

We recommended always pairing UPF clothing with sunscreen for maximum protection.

Factors that Affect UPF Garments

Increased UPF

Darker colors absorb UV rays better than lighter ones and can even be treated with chemicals or dyes to make them more effective at blocking radiation. Synthetic fibers, such as polyester or nylon, disrupt UV light better than natural fibers such as wool or cotton.

Decreased UPF

As soon as a fabric gets wet, stretched, faded or worn out, its UPF rating is reduced. UPF treatments on clothing may begin to wear off the fabric after multiple washings. The longest-lasting UPF clothing relies on the integrity of the fabric, not a fabric treatment.

Sun-Protective Hats

Hats are a great way to protect your face and neck from UV exposure. A UPF hat steps your hat game up a notch by providing UPF fabric where you need it most. This is important for bald or balding individuals, who are susceptible to sunburn or skin damage even when wearing a regular hat. UPF sun-protective hats not only look great; they help keep you cool and provide superior sun protection.

Don’t Forget the Sunscreen

When it’s hot out and you can’t go for a swim, sometimes wearing a long-sleeve UPF shirt is just unbearable. Protect your skin when you want to go sleeveless by applying the right sunscreen. We’ve got everything you need to know about sunscreen right on the 21st Century Oncology blog so you can be fully protected.