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What is Sun Protective Clothing?

I love warm weather and abundant sunshine; if I had my way, it would be sunny and 85 degrees 365 days a year. But I also have a fair complexion, so every single day, rain or shine, I slather up with a skincare lotion that has an SPF of 15.

Until recently, I thought my daily slathering plus throwing in any long-sleeve t-shirt and pair of pants as sun protection for a long day of kayaking would be just fine. Then, I learned not all fabrics and colors offer equal sun protection.

Sun Protective Clothing Defined

Sun Protective Clothing is unique in that it is designed to prevent Ultraviolet Rays from passing through the fabric and onto the wearers skin. Sun Protective Clothing is rated based on its level of UV protection and is considered very good if it’s UPF rating is 25-39 (meaning 96-97.4% of UV radiation is blocked) and excellent at 40-50+ (97.5-98%+ blocked). Some fabrics may be pre-treated with an UV-inhibiting concoction during the manufacturing process to help with the effectiveness, but there are lots of normal clothing options out there that offer sun protecting qualities.

What to Look for in Normal Clothing To Maximize Sun Protection

  • Weave - Weave is how two sets of threads are woven together at right angles to form cloth, so the tighter or more densely the fabric is woven, the more the garment protects you from the sun. If you can easily see light through fabric, then UV radiation will be able to reach your skin.
  • Dark or Bright Colors - Fabric with Dark or Bright Colors absorb harmful UV rays, keeping them from reaching your skin.
  • Fabric - Fabric content matters more than you might think. For example, certain shiny fabrics like polyester and silk can reflect radiation.
  • Loose - Fitting Clothing - It’s better because tight-fitting clothing needs to stretch when you move causing fibers to pull apart, allowing more UV light to go through the fabric.
  • Cover As Much Skin As Possible - Obviously, the more skin your clothing covers, the more you’ll be protected, and don’t forget about that wide-brimmed hat.
  • If Water is Involved - When garments get wet, they tend to become transparent, causing more sunlight to reach your skin. If your outdoor activity involves water, choose your color and weave carefully.

Sun Protective Clothing along with sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses will keep you protected and allow you to enjoy the outdoors all summer long. If you have any questions or comments about Sun Protective Clothing, just shoot us an e-mail at or visit our website.

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