What kind of clothing is best for sun protection? Fabric, color, weave explained.

We are tempted to think that we’re protected from the sun just because we are dressed, but if the clothes and accessories are not designed with UV protection in mind, then it’s only the false impression that we’re protected, and we can still easily sunburn.

Choosing the right clothes for the activities you perform is very important, and so is what to wear when you're exposed to harmful UV rays.

Whether it's fishing, surfing, hiking, kayaking or a walk in the sun, it's necessary to pick out the right clothing to protect your skin from the ultraviolet rays you're permanently exposed to, because UVA type rays are the most skin damaging, affecting your skin even when it’s cloudy.

Dermatologists recommend to always be on guard, because the sun's UVA and UVB rays deeply damage the skin to the point where it can cause melanoma. We already know that sun lotions and creams don’t fully protect your skin, and high rated UPF clothing is the safest choise.

We’ve covered the topic in this article >>> SPF vs UPF. What is the difference?

What type of fabric can protect you from UV rays?

If you plan to stay out in the sun for long, you need to know that not all fabrics have the ability to defend your skin from sunburn, so dressing up might become a matter of awareness, not style.

So keep in mind the following

Fabrics not effective at blocking UV rays Fabrics better at partially blocking UV rays
Cotton Wool
Linen Silk
Hemp Polyester
Rayon (a.k.a. viscose) Nylon

But even the fabrics that are naturally better in blocking sun rays, can’t protect you for too long, and you can still sunburn. Look for clothes with high UPF (UV protection factor) that will ensure you the protection you need.

Read more here >>> How to choose UPF rated clothes

Loose weave, less sun protection

A mesh type fabric or with loose weave isn’t effective at defending your skin, this is because it has holes between the knitting of the fibers, allowing the sun's rays to pass through. Synthetic fibers are frequently used to manufacture UPF clothes, due to the fact that they can be very tightly woven, thus minimizing the amount of UV light that reaches your skin.

If you want to see how tight a weave is, hold it up towards a light source, and if you can see tiny holes through it, then the material will not be very effective in blocking UV rays.

Heavier fabric, more sun protection

To block more UV rays, the fabric needs to be heavier, meaning either a thicker fiber or a higher thread count in a square meter. This characteristic paired up with a tighter weave will make the fabric more effective in defending your skin.

Light or dark color for sun protection?

Several studies performed around the world found that regular clothing of dark or bright/ vivid colors can absorb more UV rays, thus preventing them from reaching the skin. These colors are in general black, brown, navy blue, indigo, dark green, burgundy, blue, red and magenta, and most scientists agree on the fact that black, deep blue and deep red have the highest UV absorption than light or pale colors.

So what type of clothes can you wear to protect from UV rays?

Based on the above, you should check your wardrobe for clothes that altogether are:

• made with wool, silk, polyester or nylon

• tightly woven

• heavier

• dark colored

Picking out a shirt or pant that has all this can be a dauting task, and you also need to know that even if you select a piece of clothing that crosses off the list all of these, you can still get sunburned, develop sun spots or skin cancer. This is because a regular piece of clothing is not manufactured especially to protect your skin from UV rays. Its protective capabilities are limited.

Is there a simpler way to have it all in one?

Yes. Manufacturers and brands have developed together fabrics that even if they're white or pastel colored, or are lightweight, they are enhanced to a greater UPF rating, to disrupt harmful UVA and UVB sun rays.

So choose to buy UV protection clothing that safeguards your skin from sun radiation, and to get an even better protection, check for it to have a higher UPF rating number (UPF 50+ being the highest).


Discover GOT® UV Guard collection, made with soft, lightweight, moisture-wicking and quick-drying material.

With high UPF 50+ protection (lab tested AATCC 183:2004) you are assured that the fabric blocks over 98% of both UVA and UVB sun rays, safeguarding your skin and enjoying your favorite activities with confidence.

Tags clothing, color, fabric, outdoor, summer, sun protection, upf, uv protection -

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