These UPF Clothes Will Protect Your Skin During Any Outdoor Activity
With the help of UPF clothing, you can protect your skin from harmful UV damage *and* look cute doing it.
What Is UPF Clothing, Anyway?
Although UPF sounds a lot like the SPF found on every tropical-scented sunscreen label, the two terms couldn't be any more different. While SPF, orsun protection factor, is a relative measure of how long a sunscreen will protect you from UVB rays, UPF, aka ultraviolet protection factor, refers to the amount of ultraviolet (UV) radiation that a fabric allows to reach your skin, saysMarisa Garshick, M.D., F.A.A.D, a dermatologist based in New York City. For example, UPF 50 fabric will block roughly 98 percent of the sun's rays and let about two percent go through it. Unlike sunscreen, UPF clothing can protect you from UVB (the rays that cause your skin to burn) and UVA rays (the ones that can prematurely age your skin).
A garment's UPF rating largely depends on the fabric, with tighter-knit materials providing greater protection. Clothes with dark and bright colors also tend to have a higher UPF since they absorb UV rays, and looser-fitting clothes can provide more protection, as tighter clothing can stretch and the fibers can pull apart, leaving more of a "window" for light to pass through, says Dr. Garshick.
Another easy way to tell if a piece of clothing has a higher UPF rating? Coverage. “I mean it seems intuitive—the more of your body you cover, the better UPF protection you’ll have,” she says. And thanks to technological advancements, you can still find lightweight, stretchy activewear that offer some UPF protection. Some companies are using chemical absorbers and dyes that help prevent the penetration of UV rays, notes Dr. Garshick.
And while most clothing can provide some level of UV protection, it's worth looking for garments with at least a UPF of 30, which is the lowest UPF a fabric can have to qualify for The Skin Cancer Foundation’sSeal of Recommendation,says Dr. Garshick. Per the Foundation’s standards, clothing with a UPF of 30 to 49 are rated "very good," while those with a UPF of 50 and above are rated "excellent." (Related: Ultraviolet Radiation Causes Skin Damage—Even When You're Indoors)
Anyone who’s spending time outdoors, whether it be for exercise, hobbies, or the walk to work, should wear UPF clothing, says Dr. Garshick. But before you toss your SPF in the trash, know that UPF clothing shouldn’t replace sunscreen—it should act in tandem with it. “If you’re wearing UPF clothing, you should still wear sunscreen, and if you’re wearing sunscreen you should still consider UPF clothing,” she says. Since most people apply only 25 to 50 percent of the recommended one-ounce amount of sunscreen, according to theAmerican Academy of Dermatology,UPF clothing can offer back-up protection if needed.
Ready to amp up your sun protection and keep your skin damage-free? Shop the UPF clothing you’ll be dying to wear on your next hike, beach day, and beyond.
Spanx Long Sleeve Swim Shirt
prAna Catarina Long Sleeve Sun Top
When the sun begins to set, the temperatures drop, and you're not quite ready to leave the beach yet, pop on this quarter-zip top. The light-weight shirt is made from jersey fabric, giving it a UPF 50+ rating.
Lands' End Women's UPF 50 Sun Protection Swim Cover-up Beach Pants Print
prAna Genevieve Sun Hat
Top off your sun protection—literally—with this floppy hat made from responsibly sourced paper. The wide-brimmed hat has a UPF 50 rating, meaning it will help shield harmful UV rays from your tough-to-sunscreen scalp, as well as your face. Wear it while you’re gardening, reading a book on the back porch, or taking an easy walk around the neighborhood.
J. Crew Solid Long-Sleeve Rash Guard
Athleta Sunlover Heathered UPF Tulip Back Top
This workout top not only protects your skin with its UPF 50 rating, but it also benefits the environment thanks to its recycled nylon material. Plus, its overlap back detail will keep you cool on your long outdoor jogs and HIIT workouts. (Related: How to Shop for Sustainable Activewear)
Eddie Bauer Trail Tight Leggings - High Rise
If you’re only going to keep one piece of UPF clothing on hand, make sure it’s these high-rise leggings. The waistband sits just above the belly button to keep the pants from sliding down while you perform jump squats andburpees, while the moisture-wicking fabric keeps you cool and dry on the longest summer hikes. There’s even two zippered side pockets and a hidden waistband pocket to store your phone, keys, and mini tube of sunscreen.
Athleta Sunlover UPF Dress
With its mesh detailing, relaxed fit, and nylon fabric, this tangerine dress can take you from a dance cardio class to the office without a pitstop in the locker room. The closet staple also has a UPF 50+ rating, meaning you don’t need to worry about sun damage during an outdoor lunch or post-work walk around town. (Related:I Love the Outdoor Voices Exercise Dress So Much It's Replaced My Workout Leggings)
Lilly Pulitzer UPF 50+ Luxletic 24" Weekender Midi Legging
These jazzy UPF leggings are just what you need to rev up your sleepy Sunday morning workouts. Thanks to their compressed fit and UPF 50 rating, the pants are ideal for sprints with your running club and hour-long barre class. The best part? You don’t even need to change out of them to hit up brunch afterward.
Draper James x Lands' End Women's Square Neck Bralette Bikini Top
This protective piece of UPF clothing is the adorable result of a collaboration betweenReese Witherspoon’sbrand Draper James and Lands’ End. Along with keeping you sunburn-free, this UPF 50 bikini top helps support young girls across the U.S. and Canada; a portion of every purchase benefits Girls Inc., a nonprofit dedicated to mentoring and supporting 6- to 18-year-old girls.
Athleta Match Point Skort 13.5"
Anyone who’s playedtennisis familiar with the nasty sunburns and laughable farmers’ tans that come along with the sport. But this piece of UPF clothing will help ease some of the skin damage. The skirt has a UPF 50+ rating, wicks away sweat, and features five pockets. If you aren’t one to hit the court, you can still sport this skirt to the golf course or hiking trail.