Are Sun Shirts as good as Sunscreen?

Buying Guide, Gear -

Are Sun Shirts as good as Sunscreen?

Sun protection clothing, specially treated fashions designed to filter ultraviolet rays. Carrying a UV (ultraviolet protection rating), these clothes, hats and swimsuits have proliferated in the last decade as people have become more aware of the sun's hazards.

It’s true that any clothing can be considered sun-protective if it covers the skin, and pieces in darker colors, tighter weaves and synthetic fabrics are all better at blocking harmful rays than lighter, loosely woven clothes of natural fibers.

But garments with a UPF or UV rating are designed to provide more protection. The numbers range from 15 to 50+, and the higher numbers indicate more UV protection. The number is comparable to the SPF (sun protection factor) of sunscreens, which also provide more protection at higher numbers.

Some UV-protective clothing is given its rating based on its fiber density and structure, including, for example, its thread count per inch. Other pieces are pre-treated with a UV-inhibiting ingredient.

Clothing is the single most effective form of sun protection, even more than sunscreen as clothing is a physical blocker of the rays and sunscreen is applied to bare skin.

Another reason sun protection garments beat sunscreen is because most people don't apply enough lotion and still consider themselves protected even after swimming or perspiring heavily, which dilutes sunscreen's effectiveness. Very few people will be compliant enough to re-apply it, as Sunscreens don't just stay on.

Sun protection clothing may not be considered fashion-forward, the experts said, but the eye-catching colors and styles have ramped up its popularity in the last several years. Many sun-protective outfits are vented under the arms and at other strategic points, and the light fabrics make them exceedingly comfortable despite summer temperatures.

We’d like to note that hats and sunglasses are still necessary regardless of other sun protection choices and said those wearing UV-rated clothes should apply sunscreen starting about an inch under the ends of sleeves and pant legs, and onto the rest of the exposed skin. Sun protective clothing protects better than sunscreen, but you still need sunscreen for exposed skin.

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