How well does your clothing protect you from UV radiation?

Jeunesse MedSpa® | January 31, 2020 | no responses | Skin

Clothing is the first line of defense against the sun, but how well does your clothing protect you from uv radiation? The right clothes can offer more sun protection than sunscreen. However not all clothing is created equal!

There are 5 main factors that affect how well an item of clothing will protect you, effectively blocking the sun’s rays:


1. Colour:

Darker clothing protecst you against UV damage

The colour of your clothing can affect how well it protects you from UV rays. Certainly darker colours absorb UV rays better than white or pastel colours of the same fabric. The more intense the colour the better the protection e.g. A deep blue shirt will give you more protection than a pale blue one.


2. Construction:

The tighter the fabric structure, the better the sun protection. Tightly woven, lightweight natural fabrics such as linen, cotton or hemp provide good protection and keep you cool. Synthetic and semi synthetic fibres like polyester or rayon are the best choices for sun protection. Natural and lightweight fabrics such as bleached or refined cotton, crepe, and silk can usually be seen through and therefore UV light can easily pass through it and therefore offer less protection.


3. Fit:

Looser clothing protect you against UV damage

This may seem counter intuitive but looser garments offer better protection than super-tight clothing! If a piece is too tight, or stretched, it will be less protective as straining can cause fabric fibers to stretch or tear, allowing more UV to pass through the material.This is common in knitted or elasticised fabrics.


4. Size:

More layers and coverage helps protect you against UV damage

The more skin you cover, the better protected you are. Layering of fabrics and garments is also an effective way of increasing protection from UV.


5. UPF: 

Higher UPF helps protect you against UV damage

Some clothing are made especially to provide sun protection. They are rated with an Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) similar to SPF rating in sunscreen, to give you an idea of how much protection it offers. The number indicates what fraction of the sun’s UV rays penetrate the fabric e.g. a shirt with a UPF of 40 would allow 1/40th of the sun’s UV radiation to reach the skin.


Here are 2 important tips to remember: 

  1. Wet fabrics offer less protection from UV radiation. Take a dry change of clothes to reduce the effect of the moisture, or if dipping in and out of the water, choose a fabric that provides effective protection from UV and that will dry quickly.
  2. Washing new clothes can improve their sun protectiveness by shrinking gaps in the structure. However, old, threadbare or faded clothes may offer decreased protection over time.

So the answer to how well  your clothing can protect you from uv radiation is most definitely yes !

Remember, no single type of sun protection is complete on it’s open; therefore we advise that you

#Slip on some clothing,

#Slop on sunscreen SPF 30

#Slap on a  broad brimmed hat

#Seek shade 

#Slide on some wrap around sunglasses to maximise your protection.



Skin Cancer Foundation 



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