The clothes that you wear are one of your best forms of protection against the sun, but while all fabrics are able to disrupt UV rays to some extent, there are some that do this far better than others. While the actual fabric makes a difference when it comes to UV protection, there are other factors that influence this too, such as the dyes and colorings used to create an item of clothing.
Denim and Corduroy
Not only are denim and corduroy thick fabrics that are extremely efficient at blocking out UV rays, but they are also usually of a darker color, which contributes to its success. It is estimated that a long-sleeved, dark denim shirt provides a UV protection of around UPF 1700, which is equivalent to the highest sunblocks out there.
There are now a number of high-tech fabrics out there that have been designed to offer the highest level of sun protection. Others are commonly treated with a UVR absorber, which bonds to the fabric like a colorless dye and significantly adds to its UPF value.
Satin and Rayon
Rayon and satin are lustrous and glossy, and this is definitely preferable to matte fabrics. This is because glossy fabrics are able to reflect UV rays away from the skin, while matte fabrics, such as linen, do the opposite, and end up absorbing the light.
The Light Test
If you have already taken into account the weight, color and weave of an item of clothing but are still trying to determine how much sun protection it would provide, there is a simple test that you can do. Hold the item of clothing up to a strong light source, such as a light bulb, and see how transparent it is. If you can see images through the fabric, its UPF value is likely to be less than 15, which is not very protective, and if you can partially see images through the fabric then its UPF value is probably between 15 and 50. Fabrics that are able to totally block any light will have a UPF of over 50, meaning that they will be able to offer the maximum level of sun protection.
Dark and Intense Colors
These days, most of our clothing is dyed, even if just to create a classic white. Darker colors are known to be much more effective at protecting against the sun than light colors, as these dyes are able to absorb UV rays, reducing exposure to the skin. The same applies to bright and vivid dyes, such as a bright red or a bright yellow, as these offer much better protection than pastels and other pale shades.
When adding clothes to your summer wardrobe, it is important to take into consideration the amount of protection they will provide from the sun. Whether you plan to spend long lingering days at the beach, or know that you will be active in the sun, keeping an item of clothing with you that can protect your skin will mean that you have something to turn to if the sun’s rays start to become too intense.