Sun Protective Clothing


Part Four in Our Summer Skin Safety Series

It’s well known that the best way to protect yourself from the sun is to cover up. But not all clothing is created equal when it comes to sun protection. In order to keep sun-safe, follow these guidelines for maximizing sun protection.

Consider color and density. Did you know that color and fabric type are factors in the level of sun protection provided by clothing? A tighter weave will increase the sun protection factor by blocking UV rays.

Fabric type plays a part. Synthetic fibers like polyester, lycra, nylon and acrylic often contain elastic threads that pull the fibers tightly together, providing better sun protection over bleached cotton. And shiny fabrics like rayon reflect more UV than matte fabrics like linen.

So how is color a consideration? Dark fabric dyes absorb more UV rays, offering better protection over light colors. Interestingly, many bright colors, like red, also substantially absorb UV. In general, bright, vivid colors provide more protection than pale colors.

Remember your sunglasses and hat. Protect your face and eyes with UV-filtering sunglasses and a hat. Select a hat with a wide brim (at least 3”) to help shade your neck, face and ears.

Consider the rating. Some clothing now comes labeled with a UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) rating, which indicates how much UV radiation reaches the skin (a factor of 50 means 1/50 reaches your skin). UPF ratings for clothing have become standardized from country to country,  and UPF protective clothing is often constructed of materials that provide superior comfort and coolness.

And while clothing can be an important part of sun defense, make sure to apply sunscreen liberally and regularly on all exposed areas of the skin. Sun exposure is the number one cause of skin aging; your best defense is a good offense.

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