How Effective Is Sun Protective Clothing Really?

By now, all of us know that the sun’s rays can be very damaging and that we have to avoid exposing ourselves to it too much. Sun exposure can cause sunburn, age spots, wrinkles, premature aging and worst of all, skin cancer. None of us want any of that, but we can’t exactly stay cooped up indoor all day either. Talk to ant dermatologist about your skin concerns and usually the first thing they tell you to do is to wear sunscreen. But how often do you take time out to do this? Recently, sun protective clothing has been launched and touted as the easiest way to protect yourself from the sun’s damaging rays. But is it really that effective?

How Does Sun Protective Clothing Work?


All types of clothing have some level of sun protection because they prevent your skin from experiencing the full blast of the sun’s rays. However, the extent to which they protect you depends on the thickness of the fiber and how closely they are stitched. Sun protective clothing is especially designed to keep the sun’s rays out, so it can be more effective than your regular clothes. To protect you from the sun, it uses high density fibers woven tightly together to prevent any bits of sunlight from seeping through.

Like sunscreens are measured by their SPF, makers of sun protective clothing have come up with a unit known as UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) to measure the efficacy of fabric. The highest UPF among clothes is 50, meaning that these clothes block more than 98% of the sun’s rays. A white T-shirt for example, offers a UPF of only 8, which means it can block only 80% of ultraviolet rays.


Sun Protective Clothing Vs. Sunscreen

While sunscreens and sun protective clothing appear to have the same amount of efficacy against the sun’s rays, there are other ways in which they differ. Sun protective clothing acts as a physical barrier against the sun’s rays. If sunscreens make you break out or turn your skin greasy, you might find sun protective clothing is better suited to you. Exposure to water and sweat can also cause sunscreen to rub off and become less effective. Sunscreen also needs to be reapplied every few hours or it no longer protects you against the sun. If you’re going to be out and active all day, sun protective clothing might offer you a lot more protection.

However, sunscreens do come with their own set of advantages too. The most obvious one is that sunscreen is readily available, while sun protective clothing is still a relatively new concept. Because it hasn’t become as popular yet, it’s also priced a lot higher than sunscreen is. However, you might consider the cost as a one time investment because sunscreen runs out, while clothing doesn’t have the same problem.

Other Forms Of Sun Protective Clothing

Sun protective clothing has still not become easily available everywhere, so you might have trouble finding a store that sells it. But even if they aren’t specifically labeled as sun protective clothing, most clothes do offer sun protection. Choose long sleeved black clothes if you’re going to be out in the sun all day, because dark colors are more effective at preventing sun damage. You can also wear a wide brimmed hat when you’re going out so the sun’s rays don’t directly hit your face. Last of all, always, always wear sunglasses when you’re going out during the day. Far from being just a fashion statement, they also protect your eyes and the delicate skin around them from the harsh sunlight.