Nowadays, it seems like there’s a never-ending supply of new sun protection products flooding store shelves. From sun protection supplements (huh?) to sunscreens that make you sparkle like a unicorn, the options are (apparently) endless. Making your decision even more difficult is finding the right sunscreen product. You know, one that’s cruelty-free, vegan, non-toxic, not too oily (but won’t dry out your skin), not too thick, not too thin, *and* gentle enough to not trigger a breakout!
But there is another important element when it comes to shading your skin from the sun’s harmful rays: what you wear.
When it comes to clothes and their ability to protect your skin from the sun — not all clothing is created equal. Surprisingly, ultraviolet rays are able to penetrate most fabrics. Of course, there are various factors that affect a shirt’s ability to effectively block the sun’s rays. Here’s a quick overview:
- Type of fabric: The type of material used greatly affects a fabric’s ability to block UV rays. The thinner the material, the easier it is for rays to pass through. Stick to heavy, tight-woven fabrics for optimal sun protection.
- Color of the fabric: Just like the type of material, the color of a fabric can impact how well a piece of clothing is at keeping out the sun’s rays. Your average white, cotton t-shirt offers a sun protection factor of about 5, while darker shades tend to provide better protection.
- If the fabric is wet: Although a shirt’s wetness or dryness doesn’t seem like a big deal when it comes to sun safety, wet fabrics tend to reduce the amount of sun protection by about half.
- If the fabric is worn: Stretched, worn, and faded materials are typically less effective at blocking out UV rays.
Similar to a tanning lotion’s SPF (sun protection factor), clothing is also assigned a rating system known as UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) that measures a fabric’s effectiveness at blocking both UVA and UVB light. For example, a UPF rating of 25 indicates 1/25 (or 4 percent) of UV rays are able to pass through the clothing item. The highest UPF rating of 50+ indicates a fabric is able to block 98 percent of UVA and UVB rays.
With summer in full-swing, it’s vital that you protect your skin. If you’re looking for sun-safe clothing, there are many brands out there that offer stylish, sun-safe, UPF clothing and accessories. (Just keep in mind, sun-protective clothes won’t be able to block all of the sun’s harmful rays, but they are an excellent option for added coverage.) Here are a few brands to try!
3 Eco-Friendly, Sun-Protective UPF Clothing Brands
Although not all of their fibers are made using sustainable materials, this certified B Corporation is completely transparent about the products they use and the processes used to make them. With fabrics made from such things as recycled fishing nets, discarded nylon, and post-consumer plastic bottles, you can rest easy knowing your outfit is good for the earth and your skin.
Pacifica Pleated Dress (UPF 50+), $89.00
Based in Los Angeles, California, this 100% women-owned business creates eco-friendly, sustainable, *and* fashion-forward women’s apparel that’s specifically designed to protect the wearer from the sun. Committed to promoting skin cancer awareness, Sundriven’s fabrics are recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation and help block 98 percent of UVA/UVB rays. Sundriven UV wear is also ethically made using all-natural fibers and zero chemical additives.
Jenna Dress (UPF 50+), $146.00
3. Toad & Co.
With an entire vegan collection (they use recycled wool in other lines) of sun-safe clothing, Toad & Co. makes its clothes using eco-friendly fabrics like hemp, organic cotton, Tencel, and recycled polyester. Toad & Co. clothing is also Standard 100 certified by OKEO-TEX and even ensure their headquarters are eco-friendly as well by switching to LED lights, using Forest Stewardship Council certified paper, and by participating in a composting program. Hats off to them!
Lola Skinny Jean (UPF 30), $79.00
Do you wear sun-protective UPF clothing?
Get more like this—Subscribe to our daily inspirational newsletter for exclusive content!