How Sun Protective Clothing Works

Sun protective clothing protects against harmful UV radiation that skin is exposed to in sunlight. Too much UV radiation will age your skin over time, contributing to wrinkles and age spots and making skin feel dry and look leathery and dull. UV radiation can also result in painful sunburn as a short term effect. Long term harmful effects can include skin cancer, an increase in free radicals which can cause other types of cancer and damage to the immune system. UV rays affect people of all skin tones, so everyone should be aware of how much UV radiation they and their family will receive over the course of a day. A good way to limit that radiation is through wearing sun protective clothing.

Sun Protective Clothing Blocks The Sun

Sun protective clothing primarily acts as a physical block to sunlight, by providing a surface which will absorb or reflect the UV radiation. Summer clothes are often lightweight, with a loose weave and may let in large amounts of UV radiation, particularly when wet. Even when sunburn doesn’t occur, the skin might be absorbing dangerous amounts of UVA, as this type of radiation, which increases free radicals, does not burn the skin.

Unlike ordinary summer clothes, sun protective clothing has a tight weave and often comes in dark colors. Some studies indicate that they can block the sun more effectively than whites and pastels. Often the clothing is treated with a chemical UV blocker similar to the ones used in sunscreen. Most sun protective clothing is rated according to a UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) system which takes into account both UVA and UVB radiation. A shirt with a UPF50 rating allows only 1 unit of UV radiation through for every 50 units it blocks. UPF50+ is the maximum a manufacturer can label sun protective clothing, but the rating might be higher.

Sun Protective Clothing Uses the Latest Technology

Having a tighter weave and a heavier weight of cloth can feel restrictive, particularly during the summer. Protective sunwear is often made with innovative weaves and fabrics that can continue to block out radiation without weighing too much. Textiles are also generally made with endurance in mind, so that repeated washes will not warp the fabric, allowing UV in or washing out the additional UV blockers.

The absorbed UV radiation turns into heat, so protective clothing is constructed to maximize airflow and keep the wearer cool. Often the thicker textiles include vents which increase airflow and the clothes are usually large and loose to cover more skin without constricting the air. They might also have panels that keep parts of the clothes raised off the body to assist in airflow. The latest fabric types can also wick sweat away from the body, keeping the wearer dry and comfortable.

Sun protective clothing can be more comfortable and convenient than sunscreen and is sometimes more effective, although the two should be used together for full UV protection. Protecting your skin now will help to ensure a happy and healthy future.


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