Clothing for Sun Protection: How to be Trendy From UV Rays.

As summer is coming, sun protection is calling. Surely, an hour on a shiny day under the sun it's a small pleasure we all enjoy having. But, what about UV rays? there is such thing like UV Clothing? UV rays can penetrate clothing? and why should textiles not be exposed to ultraviolet rays? According to Skin Cancer Foundation 1 out of 5 Americans will develop skin cancer by age 70. And one of the two main causes of skin cancer is the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. The good news is that prevention it's an effective alternative for avoiding sun's UV rays damage and clothing sun protection, an attractive and easy choice for that purpose.

The second main cause for skin cancer is the use of UV tanning beds, a beauty option just for those who are truly searching for a tanned skin instead of a healthy one.

Lakeside Sunbathing
Lakeside Sunbathing - Pixabay

15 to 35 kilometers above Earth's surface, a gas called ozone surrounds the planet. The atmospheric ozone layer acts as a barrier between Earth and ultraviolet radiation from the sun, particularly harmful UVB-type rays. However, pollution has caused the ozone layer to thin, exposing life on Earth to dangerous radiation. You can learn more about the ozone layer in our article Depletion of the Ozone Layer: Impact on Planet Earth. Exposure to UVB radiation is linked with increased risk of skin cancer and cataracts, as well as damage to plants and marine ecosystems. In that context, why not consider clothing for sun protection the alternative to counteract effects on skin of a thin ozone layer?

The skin needs sunlight in order to be able to manufacture vitamin D, which is important for normal bone formation. It also prevents mood enhancement (technically known as Seasonal Affective Disorder - SAD). Studies have shown that the rate of serotonin production in the brain is directly influenced by the amount of sunlight the body is exposed to on a given day. Serotonin levels are higher on bright days than on cloudy days. It's a potent brain chemical that controls mood and is associated with feelings of happiness. That's why shining smiles on shining days.

Learn more about healthy sunbathing here Sun and Skin protection: How To Healthily Enjoy Sun Exposure.

But there’s a downside. Sun's ultraviolet light can cause major damage to the skin. The skin on its outer layer is composed by cells that contain the pigment melanin. Melanin acts as a protection for skin from the sun's ultraviolet rays. These can burn the skin and attempt against its elasticity, leading to premature aging.

Woman Sitting on Textiles Applying Suncsreen
Photo by from Pexels

The amount of UV light that comes into contact with the skin depends on several factors, such as time of day, season, altitude and geographical location. During periods of intense UV radiation, for example, at midday or on a hot summer day, it is advisable to wear protective clothing (clothing for sun protection consists of an trully innovation for this) and apply sunscreen when going outside.

Sunlight, especially UVA and UVB rays, can cause sunburn, premature skin aging, eye damage, weakening of the immune system, photoallergic and phototoxic reactions and even skin cancer. Doctors and dermatologists constantly warn about the strong correlation between the frequency of skin cancer and the degree of DNA damage, reminding us that more than 90% of skin cancers are a consequence of sun exposure. It is generally known that the best treatment is prevention through sun protection.

Commonly, sunscreen and sun protection items, including clothing for sun protection, are classified by the SPF (Sun Protection Factor) or UPF (Ultraviolet Protector Factor). It consists of a measure of how well sunscreens or, for example, shirts with sun protection, will protect skin from UVB rays. If sun protection clothing for women indicates UPF 15, this means that the skin can be exposed to UVB rays without burning 15 times longer than the same skin without that sun protection clothing. Thus, a person who would burn within 10 minutes of being exposed to the sun, when wearing UPF 15 sleeves for sun protection, the time it will take to burn becomes 150 minutes (10 x 15 = 150 minutes).

It is therefore important to know that the higher the protection factor, the longer the protection time. There´s an usual mistake: In no case does the sun protection factor indicate the degree of tanning tolerance.

Summer Flat Lay - Pixabay License
Summer Flat Lay - Pixabay License

It's there an advantage to clothing for Sun Protection over Sunscreen?

Not really. Sunscreen and sunglasses are complementary to sun protective clothing. Everyday face sunscreen is a great beauty and health care routine. Face skin it's a delicate one and it's usually more exposed to sun damage than the rest of the skin of our body, so it deserves not only a proper hat but also a sunscreen design for it. Nowadays even make up products consider UPF in its composition.

Scientific studies of different technical textiles, carried out in several technological centers, show that the protection of textiles against ultraviolet rays from the sun depends on several factors. Yes, you´re right, your clothing can shield you from the sun. But, all fabrics and colors provide equal protection? Luckily not. There's plenty of options and when shopping for apparel or thinking about your OOTD that can effectively shield you from harmful rays, you should keep some factors in mind.

Taking color into account in sun protection clothing for women, men or children, we should consider that 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. Also, if we think about the construction of textiles, densely woven cloth, like denim, canvas, wool or synthetic fibers, are more protective than thin or loosely woven cloth.

An easy way to check this is holding it up to the light. If you are able to see through, UV radiation can penetrate the fabric with ease and will quickly reach your skin, just like light does.

The Composition of your fabric really matters in terms of UV protection. UV Rays penetrate clothing?

Unbleached cotton has in it internal structure, natural lignins that work as UV absorbers. Also shiny polyesters and even lightweight satiny silks can have high performance in UV protection because they reflect radiation. Textile innovation has led to high-tech fabrics that are treated with chemical UV absorbers or dyes to avoid some penetration from UV rays. Also, apparel design can set the standard of clothing for sun protection.

Loose-fitting apparel is preferable over tight clothing, due to the fact that tight clothing can stretch and lose some level of protection offered, as the fibers recede from each other and allow more UV light to pass through. If sun protection shirts for women have sleeves for sun protection and also loose-fit, you will be on the right path for your skin health. Of course, the more skin your outfit covers, the better your protection. Whenever possible, choose sun protection long sleeve shirts and long pants or skirts.

Fortunately and increasingly, some apparel manufacturers provide UPF labels, which indicate exactly how much sun’s UV radiation rays the garment can shield. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation’s, a fabric must have a UPF of 30 to qualify for a special recognition from the institution.

Family all wearing floppy  hats on the beach
Robin Jonathan Deutsch in Unsplash

Bamboo fibre is really well ranked when talking about natural fibres. It is superior in softness, breathability, thermoregulation, absorbency and moisture wicking properties. Also, bamboo fibre is usually presented as an eco-friendly fibre, as the bamboo plant is probably one of the world's most sustainable resources. It develops very quickly and easily, it doesn’t need agrochemicals, and it doesn’t need to be replanted after harvest because it regrows from the roots. What's more, Bamboo has the unique quality of being resistant to harmful UV rays. There is no other natural fibre used for textiles that has this very useful property, and that's why it deserves the crown for sun protection fibres.

Our Top Pick best UV Clothing for Sun Protection

Best Outdoor Performance - BALEAF Women's UPF 50+ Sun Protection Jacket Hooded Cooling Shirt with Pockets


This UPF 50+ Sun Protection jacket is a great alternative for those who do not want to compromise style over comfort, sun protection and sporty use. An ultra lightweight that assures next-to-skin feel protecting it from sun damage.

Buy on Amazon

Best Equipped - SUPIELD UV Protection UPF 600+ SPF Clothing Hooded Lightweight Long Sleeve Hiking Fishing Sun Shirt with face Cover


This item is more than a jacket, it is an all-in-one piece of garment that will make your skin totally safe from UVA and UVB rays.

Buy on Amazon

Most Comfy - Willit Women's UPF 50+ Cover-Up Dress


Not only a sportswear item, not only a dress, not only a sun protection piece of cloth, but all that together. Probably, the favorite of more than one!

Buy on Amazon

Most Versatile - Women's UPF 50+ UV Sun Protection Safari Shirt, Long Sleeve Outdoor Cool Quick Dry Fishing Hiking Gardening Shirts


This safari shirt is as versatile as Harry Potter's invisibility cloak. It is thought to protect your neck, to be adapted according to the weather conditions and to keep everything you may need to a trekking or outdoor activity handy.

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Most Practical - Columbia Women Super Bahama Ls


The Columbia Women's Super Bahama Long Sleeve Shirt guards against sun damage thanks to the built-in UPF 30 material. It’s a breathable, quick wicking fabric that pulls moisture away to keep you cool and dry.

Buy on Amazon

Best Pant Option - NAVISKIN Women's Lightweight Quick Dry Joggers Capri Pants UPF 50+ Sun Protection Outdoor Hiking Pants


These women hiking joggers capri pants are made of UPF 50+ fabrication that protects the skin during outdoor activity by blocking harmful UVA and UVB. super lightweight material feels amazing next to your skin while staying light and cool to the touch.

Buy on Amazon

Mont Fancy - Women's Sun Hat Packable Reversible Bucket Hat UV Sun Protection Wide Brim Summer Beach Cap


This sun hat is chic and lightweight, easy to fold and you can put it into your purse, absolutely will save lots of space. It is perfect for traveling, fishing, walking, going out, beach, holiday and other outdoor activities.

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Best Material - Sun Visor Hats Women Large Brim Summer UV Protection Beach Cap


Cotton is always a good idea, and this visor hat for women is perfect in terms of design and material. Sporty but fancy and easy to wear and carry.

Buy on Amazon

The wide variety of options probably means these are a type of item that will nearly be a must in every summer, sportswear and outdoor wardrobe. What do you think?

Agostina Martino

Fashion and textile designer. Working on sustainability. Entrepreneur, creative and university teacher.

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