So, do clothes provide sun protection? Yes, they do. But protection levels vary.

The back of sunscreen bottles tells you to wear a long sleeve shirt and pants in addition to using their product for a reason. One of the most basic ways to use clothing for sun protection is to cover more skin. Wear long sleeves rather than short sleeves. Have a cute cover-up over your bathing suit on the beach. Rock some adorable driving gloves to protect your hands if you have a long commute.

Then take a look at your wardrobe.

Some clothes protect better than others. UVA/UVB rays that cause cancer and aging can easily pass through lightweight and light-colored clothing. Have a favorite white cotton tee? Not only does it leave the rest of your arms exposed, but it also only blocks about 80% of UV rays

What is UPF?

Like SPF for sunscreen, scientists have developed a UV protection scale for ranking clothing called Ultraviolet Protection Factor or UPF. Because the sun protection scene needed more acronyms. 

A piece of clothing’s UPF is based on various factors (we’ll discuss them in a minute). But basically, a UPF of 50+ is excellent protection, blocking 98 percent of UVA and UVB rays. While a UPF 30 is adequate protection, blocking 97 percent of UV radiation. 

Of course, you can buy UPF rated clothing online, but many of the clothes you already own provide excellent sun protection. For example, dark, denim blue jeans block most UV rays. Their deep color, heavyweight, and dense weave give them the equivalent of a UPF 50+ rating. 

UPF Clothing Considerations

So what makes a piece of clothing have a high UPF? Check out this simplified chart based on factors given by the Skin Cancer Foundation:

Do clothes block UV rays? Yes, they do! But not all give the same amount of protection. Learn about the UPF rating system that helps you know which of your clothes will block UV rays best. Learn how to protect your skin and prevent premature aging caused by sun damage with clothes.
Weave Density

Good: Tight weave that leaves few holes for UV rays to pass through

Bad: Loose weave, perfect for UV rays to sail through and ruin everyone’s life

Composition

Good- synthetic fabrics, shiny synthetic fabrics (suddenly a 1980s prom dress seems desirable)

Bad- bleached cotton

Color

Good: synthetic fabrics, shiny synthetic fabrics (suddenly a 1980s prom dress seems desirable)

Bad: bleached cotton

Weight

Good: Thick material such as heavy cotton denim

Bad: lace, silk gauze

Tension or Strech

Good- not stretchy or stretched (wear clothes that fit correctly)

Bad- stretched material

Moisture

Good- Dry

Bad- Wet 

Fabric Condition

Good – Good condition, not worn down or through

Bad- Worn, frayed

Shopping for UPF Clothing

Still interested in buying some officially UPF rated clothing?
Here are some cute beach inspired styles:

Do clothes block UV rays? Yes, they do! But not all give the same amount of protection. Learn about the UPF rating system that helps you know which of your clothes will block UV rays best. Learn how to protect your skin and prevent premature aging caused by sun damage with clothes.

Women's Long Sleeves Rash Guard Athletic Swim Aztec UPF 50+ Tankini Sets Swimsuit

This UPF 50+ rash guard set is perfect for protecting you on the beach. Reviewers love that it protects your hands and features a built in bra.
Do clothes block UV rays? Yes, they do! But not all give the same amount of protection. Learn about the UPF rating system that helps you know which of your clothes will block UV rays best. Learn how to protect your skin and prevent premature aging caused by sun damage with clothes.

Coolibar UPF 50+ Catalina Beach Cover-Up Dress

This cover-up is so cute that some reviewers wear it as an every day tunic. It’s roomy fit and multiple color options make it a great sun protection fashion staple.
Do clothes block UV rays? Yes, they do! But not all give the same amount of protection. Learn about the UPF rating system that helps you know which of your clothes will block UV rays best. Learn how to protect your skin and prevent premature aging caused by sun damage with clothes.

Coolibar UPF 50+ Women's Convertible Sun Scarf

This adorable scarf is a convenient addition to any outfit. It can be worn as a scarf, wrap, shrug or even hood.

Related

The Sun is Your Frienemy: UV Rays Explained

Do clothes block UV rays? Yes, they do! But not all give the same amount of protection. Learn about the UPF rating system that helps you know which of your clothes will block UV rays best. Learn how to protect your skin and prevent premature aging caused by sun damage with clothes.

Little Donkey Andy Women's UPF 50+ UV Protection Shirt, Long Sleeve Fishing Shirt, Breathable and Fast Dry

This breathable, fast drying shirt features long sleeves that convert to short sleeves easily. It features sun protection plus utility which makes it perfect for hiking and camping too.
Do clothes block UV rays? Yes, they do! But not all give the same amount of protection. Learn about the UPF rating system that helps you know which of your clothes will block UV rays best. Learn how to protect your skin and prevent premature aging caused by sun damage with clothes.

BALEAF Women's UPF 50+ Sun Protection T-Shirt Long/Short Sleeve Outdoor Performance

This lightweight shirt includes moisture-wicking technology to keep you cool and protect you from the sun. Reviewers love to use it while running, gardening and at the beach. 
Do clothes block UV rays? Yes, they do! But not all give the same amount of protection. Learn about the UPF rating system that helps you know which of your clothes will block UV rays best. Learn how to protect your skin and prevent premature aging caused by sun damage with clothes.

BALEAF Women's Sun Protection Dresses Beach Cover Ups UPF 50+ Quick Dry Long Sleeve Pockets Gofl Shirts

This adorable dress has pockets and a high UPF rating.

This post was proofread by Grammarly.

Photos by Heidi Fin on Glen Jackson on Unsplash.

Do clothes block UV rays? Yes, they do! But not all give the same amount of protection. Learn about the UPF rating system that helps you know which of your clothes will block UV rays best. Learn how to protect your skin and prevent premature aging caused by sun damage with clothes.
Do clothes block UV rays? Yes, they do! But not all give the same amount of protection. Learn about the UPF rating system that helps you know which of your clothes will block UV rays best. Learn how to protect your skin and prevent premature aging caused by sun damage with clothes.
Do clothes block UV rays? Yes, they do! But not all give the same amount of protection. Learn about the UPF rating system that helps you know which of your clothes will block UV rays best. Learn how to protect your skin and prevent premature aging caused by sun damage with clothes.
Do clothes block UV rays? Yes, they do! But not all give the same amount of protection. Learn about the UPF rating system that helps you know which of your clothes will block UV rays best. Learn how to protect your skin and prevent premature aging caused by sun damage with clothes.
Do clothes block UV rays? Yes, they do! But not all give the same amount of protection. Learn about the UPF rating system that helps you know which of your clothes will block UV rays best. Learn how to protect your skin and prevent premature aging caused by sun damage with clothes.

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