UV shirts: Are they Important?

As we have come to know, the sun’s rays can do a lot of damage if we spend too much time in them without protection. Thankfully, as our knowledge has improved, our technology to combat the damage has also improved. Part of that was the introduction of UV protected clothing.

Whether it was swimwear, t-shirts, or hats, there are now many different types of clothing that are advertised as containing UV protection. Are they actually as good as they sound?

How do they work

UV protection clothing: as good as advertised?
UV protection clothing: as good as advertised?

UV protective clothing works by utilizing a fabric that has been so tightly woven together that the UV rays cannot penetrate the shirt. Additionally, just as sunscreen contains zinc to help block out harmful rays, some of the clothing actually has zinc woven into the fabric adding an extra layer of protection from the sun.

The analogy is that wearing UV protective fabric is like sitting in the shade all day, but you do not need to really be in the shade to get the same effect. Instead of applying sunscreen before getting dressed, as is often recommended to prevent sun burn or damage caused by the sun’s rays penetrating through your clothing, you can simply slip the clothes on and be guaranteed of sun protection wherever the fabric covers.

Regular Clothing

When we wear regular clothing, it can be easy to assume that the fabric provides some degree of protection against the rays. But in reality, a regular cotton shirt is not going to keep you safe from the sun. A standard white t-shirt made out of cotton has a UPF rating of 5. UPF means “ultraviolet protection factor,” which is how much of the sun’s rays can actually be absorbed. Where a cotton shirt may be a UPF of 5, UV protected clothing usually has a UPF of 50, meaning that they will block out 10 times more of the damaging rays than a regular shirt. With a UPF rating of 50, the clothing works as well as a sunscreen that has SPF 50.

Wearing cotton clothes is still better than bare skin being exposed to the sun
Wearing cotton clothes is still better than bare skin being exposed to the sun

Wearing cotton clothes is still better than bare skin being exposed to the sun, but you should still wear sunscreen underneath in order to prevent both burns and permanent sun damage or skin cancer. Outside of cotton, however, there are other fabrics that do provide better protection. Denim, for example, has an impressive UPF of 1,700, meaning that no sunrays are ever going to penetrate it. But would you want to hang out in head to toe denim when you are outside? Most likely not. It is not known to be the most comfortable or breathable type of fabric out there.

You are not limited

For a long time, UV protection in clothing stuck mostly with hats and swimwear, but this technology has moved far beyond what you would have on at the beach. All of your outdoor needs, whether it is hiking, fishing, or just being outside can now be met with UV protective clothing. So really, you can still look fabulous, do what you need to do and have adequate sun protection. Most of the outdoor websites and stores offer a variety of UV protective items of clothing so look around to see if you can find something that works for your specific needs.

The Best Reason

When you apply sunscreen, it is easy to miss a spot
When you apply sunscreen, it is easy to miss a spot

When it comes to the advantages of such clothing, there is one thing about them that stands above everything else. You cannot mess them up. When you apply sunscreen, it is easy to miss a spot, especially in a hard to reach area, leaving you with a single burned patch of skin. With UV protective clothing, however, you will not suffer the same problem as the fabric has already covered you up. It is really the best idea for people who are outdoors often or who need guaranteed sun protection.

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marion-fernandez is one of the authors writing for Outdoor Revival