UPF Clothing Brings Sun Protection To A Whole New Level

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As much as we love to enjoy the summer weather and sit out in the warm, bright sunshine, we must remember to be careful when protecting our skin from the sun's not-so-fun qualities. Of course, you should diligently apply sunscreen to your body and face each time you go out in the sun, even if it's not super hot or bright outside; it's better to be safe than sorry. But your sun protection strategy should include more than just an SPF if you're looking to prevent sun damage to your skin. If you want to be ultra-careful as you enjoy the sunshine, give UPF clothing a chance in addition to wearing sunscreen.


"UPF stands for ultraviolet protection factor, which measures a garment's ability to block your skin from all UV rays ... Most clothing will give some degree of protection from UV rays; however, certain pieces are specifically tested and marketed to supply ample protection," Dr. Aanand Geria, a board-certified dermatologist, told CNN. While you might want to roll your eyes at us for giving you yet another reminder to be safe in the sun, you'll likely end up thanking us when you see how these sun-friendly garments will help you and your skin stay safe.

UPF clothes are arguably the most helpful tools for sun protection

UPF clothing offers significantly more help in protecting your body from the sun than traditional apparel. And believe it or not, these special garments can provide higher-quality protection than sunscreen. "Most fabrics that we wear are a loose weave that lets visible light peek through and get to our skin. With UPF clothing, the weave is different and often is made from a special fabric to help form a barrier against the sun's rays," Dr. Alok Vij, a dermatologist, told Cleveland Clinic. "Most sun-protected fabrics are UPF 50 or higher — so better than your typical SPF sunscreen ... But it's recommended for people to choose a mixture of both sunscreen and clothing to get the best possible protection."


Before you get too excited and decide to ditch your sunscreen for a UPF wardrobe, remember that the dermatologist noted that you should still wear both — not just one or the other. Even if your UPF clothing is successfully protecting your body, what about your exposed skin? Don't let the sun damage your face and scalp because you decided to forgo sunscreen after discovering UPF clothes! Think of UPF clothing and sunscreen like two friends working together to protect you rather than competing against each other; do your skin a favor and use both.

Don't worry too much about sweat

We can't overlook another not-so-fun aspect of the summer sun: sweat. We've all been in at least one embarrassing or stress-inducing sweat-related scenario. Maybe you humiliated yourself on a summer walk date because your crush rejected a hug due to your pit stains, or perhaps a family member called you out for smelling sweaty at a family pool party. But more importantly, we know how stressful it feels when we worry that we're sweating off our sunscreen. A lot of strenuous activities happen under the sun, such as outdoor workouts, walks by the ocean, and summer dance parties, which all typically work up a sweat. While it's frustrating to have to reapply sunscreen because of sweating, you won't have to worry about doing so with the parts of your body that the UPF clothing covers.


"Physical protection from UV light is always better than sunscreen alone because the sunscreen can run off with sweat," Dr. Caroline A. Chang, a board-certified dermatologist and founder of Rhode Island Dermatology Institute, told Verywell Fit. Again, you should still use your sunscreen for the parts that the UPF clothes won't protect, but remember that these specific pieces offer more protection and durability than just sunscreen, so they're worth the investment.

They're more comfortable than you may assume

When you hear about UPF clothing protecting your skin in the sun, you might imagine ultra-heavy-feeling, uncomfortable clothes that make it difficult to move or breathe. But that's not how these garments work. "UPF clothing is often designed with breathable and lightweight fabrics that allow airflow, keeping you cool and comfortable even in hot weather," Ian Michael Crumm, an esthetician and BeautyCurious Podcast co-host, told Byrdie. You typically bring a cover-up to the pool or beach anyway, right? Those cover-ups can feel heavy and sweaty in the sun, so why not do your skin a favor by swapping out your netted garment, oversized T-shirt, or dress-style cover-up for a more beneficial UPF option?


You can even find TikTokers talking about the comfort and benefits of UPF clothing on the social media platform. For example, skincare-focused TikToker @hkjennylee posted a video explaining that she enjoys wearing jackets and leggings with a UPF of at least 30 to prevent the sun's rays from affecting her body while she's outside without sacrificing comfort. Many of us already wear leggings and jackets to feel comfortable when we go outside, so if you'd like a protective boost, consider reaching for a similar cozy garment in UPF form.

There are many UPF clothing options

While UPF clothing may sound like a super specific niche, finding flattering options isn't as difficult as you'd think. For instance, the Sunchaser UPF Top is available for $50 at Athleta at the time of writing. This bold red-orange UPF top has a crew neck design covering your chest and even has thumb holes in the long sleeves to protect your arms and hands. Do you want a UPF jacket, too? Consider the Hugut Store Women's UPF 50+ Sun Protection UV Jacket — Zip Up Hoodie Long Sleeve, selling on Amazon for about $25. The sporty jacket is super protective, featuring a hood and thumb cut-outs.


Moreover, if you want some light, summery UPF pants, check out the Coolibar Women's Lynsu Wide Leg Pants UPF 50+, selling for around $90 at Coolibar. These ultra-comfortable pants have 4.1 stars at the time of writing and could easily pass as acceptable at events where athletic wear might be too casual for the dress code. If you prefer leggings, the Ubestyle UPF 50+ High Waist Women's Leggings Swimming Tights Sun Protective are available for less than $30 on Amazon. They're also water-friendly, so you don't even have to take them off for the pool or ocean! As the options for UPF clothing grow — including into the range of dresses and more stylish everyday wear — so do your opportunities for a greater level of sun protection.


UPF clothes are great for kids

Whether you're a parent, have young relatives, or babysit, you can likely relate to the mix of excitement and stress summer and sunshine bring. While it's great to see babies and kids having fun outside, the sunny weather brings some challenges — including figuring out a plan for supervising the children, preventing them from eating too many summer treats, and worrying about the sun damaging their young skin. Though UPF clothing can't help you with all those issues, it can help you protect your beloved little ones from the sun. Also, it can help them recognize the importance of protecting their skin at a young age. "Getting kids used to sun protection early is key," Dr. Heidi A. Waldorf, associate clinical professor of dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, told The Strategist.


To cut down on squirming during sunscreen application, you can let UPF clothing do a good part of the protective work; there are plenty of child-friendly options available. Check out ultra-protective UPF garments like Coolibar Baby LumaLeo 360 Coverage Bodysuit UPF 50 for babies or Athleta Girl Catching Rays UPF Top for kids. While little ones will still need some sunscreen (just like adults), check-ins and sunscreen reapplication will take less time when they're mostly covered by UPF clothing — meaning they can get back to playing faster, and you can have peace of mind that they're protected from the sun.