by Michelle

Does This Really Work? Sun Protective Clothing

July 19, 2017

You’re heading outside for a day of summer fun: sunscreen is a must, of course. But are there more protective layers you can put on to prevent skin cancer that don’t require covering up in long sleeves and pants?

According to sun protective clothing companies, yes.

There’s no shortage of wearable products—bathing suits, shirts, hats—that claim to shield you from the sun’s damaging ultraviolet rays with built-in protection. We talked to dermatologists to figure out if we can trust their promises.

How Does Sun Protective Clothing Work?

The effectiveness of sun protective clothes, which are made with materials designed to block out damaging sunlight, is quantified by what is known as a UPF rating—the equivalent of SPF, but for clothing. This rating is based on the weight, color, and construction of the fabric, and indicates how much ultraviolet radiation can penetrate the material, says Amy Brodsky, MD, an Illinois-based dermatologist and spokeswoman for the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery.

So a shirt with a UPF of 50 allows just 1/50th of the sun’s ultraviolet rays to reach your skin. “That would provide excellent sun protection, in contrast to a thin, white cotton T-shirt, which has a UPF of about 5,” Brodsky says. “That allows 1/5th of the sun’s ultraviolet rays through—and even more when the T-shirt is wet.”

Brodsky recommends looking for Lycra/elastane fabrics, which are the most likely to have UPFs of 50 or higher. Nylon and polyester are the next most effective materials for blocking the sun, she says.

A brand that sells sun protective clothing meeting these requirements is Mott50. We love their versatile pieces, including the Mia (pictured above), a UPF 50 color-blocked swim dress that doubles as a shirt. (Buy now: $118, mott50.com). For everyday wear, consider their UPF 30+ chambray shorts (Buy now: $78, mott50.com), which tie in the front with a stylish bow.

Article originally posted on Prevention

Edited by Mia Cloke