With summer exposure to the sun comes conversations about the importance of sunscreen — but there’s another, often overlooked protective measure you can take to safeguard your skin from the sun, and that’s choosing clothing that’s specifically made to protect you from ultraviolet rays.
While sunlight has physical and mental health benefits, such as the vital production of vitamin D and boosting of serotonin, getting too much of it can do more harm than good. But certain types of clothing can absorb or block harmful ultraviolet rays from the sun that cause sun damage and skin cancer.
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, the ultraviolet protective factor (UPF) of a fabric reveals how much UV radiation it allows to get through to your skin. So, for example, a UPF 50 fabric blocks 98% of the sun’s rays and allows only 1/50 (2%) to get through. What makes this factor different from SPF, which is what you would find on a sunscreen bottle, is that UPF measures both UVA and UVB rays (the former being associated with skin aging and the latter with burning), while SPF only measures UVB.
Densely woven fabrics like wool, polyester, nylon, denim and synthetic fibers offer the best protection, while lighter fabrics that are more loosely woven, like viscose or cotton, offer less.
Below, we rounded up 12 pieces of clothing that aren’t total eyesores and offer a UPF rating of at least 30.
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Women’s Baleaf joggers
These drawstring-waist joggers are made of a UPF 50+ protective fabric that shields your legs from harmful UV rays. They’re perfect for lounging by the pool or hiking near ponds and rivers as they are also water-repellant, so water just rolls right off of them. You can move comfortably thanks to the built in four-way stretch. And yes, they have pockets — five, to be exact. Get them in black, blue, dark gray or red and sizes XS to XXL.
Women’s Columbia Sandy River cargo shorts
A staple for any summer wardrobe is a pair of cargo shorts that go with almost anything. This pair from Columbia is breathable and made of UPF 30 fabric. The shorts come with a belt and have a partial elastic waist for maximum comfort. Get them in khaki or blue and sizes XS-3X.
Men’s Eddie Bauer Momentum anorak
Whether it’s raining or windy, a lightweight anorak jacket is a true lifesaver. And on days when it’s sunny out and you’re planning on running a couple errands — or just running in general — you need one that will also protect you from the sun. This one from Eddie Bauer has a pullover style, is water-repellant and has built-in UPF 50+ protection. It comes in neon yellow, gray, green, camo and burgundy. It’s available in regular and tall sizes from S to XXL.
Lululemon women’s high neck zippered romper
When the regular shirt and shorts combo just won’t cut it, a romper is a loose and flowy option in which you can stay cool. The protective fabric of this Lululemon romper offers UPF 40+ protection, all while wicking sweat and drying quick. You can even store your small valuables in the two front pockets. It comes in green, magenta and black in sizes 0 to 14.
Men’s Willit hoodie
This pullover hoodie wicks moisture from your skin and has UPF 50+ protection. You don’t have to worry about chafing, either, as the seams are flat and there’s no collar tag to irritate your skin. It comes in 41 colors, including light blue, orange, gray, white and green. Sizes range from S to 3XL.
A wide brim hat
Men’s Eddie Bauer Guide Pro pants
Columbia fishing shirt
Though it’s called a fishing shirt, you certainly don’t have to be fishing to wear this lightweight nylon shirt. It’s a great summer clothing item to have as you can wear it buttoned up or open with a tank top underneath. The mesh-lined back vents will keep you cool while you’re outdoors. It offers UPF 50 protection in 38 colors, including white, peach, light blue, yellow, mint green, lavender and navy. Women’s sizes range from XS to 3X and men’s sizes range from XXS to 6X, with tall options.
Men’s Prana Sol Defender Henley
For your next afternoon jog or sun lounging session, this long-sleeve shirt is a solid option. It has moisture wicking properties and UPF 30+ protection. It comes in blue, gray, green, red and in sizes XS to XXL.
Women’s Soothfeel zip-up hoodie
A simple, lightweight hoodie that also offers protection from the sun? Yes. With UPF 50+ protection, a hood to shade your neck and thumb holes to give your hands more coverage, this hoodie will become the one you reach for often, whether you use it for biking, jogging, walking or just running errands. It comes in 12 colors, including navy, yellow, green, purple, pink and white. Sizes range from XS to XXL.
Women’s Lilly Pulitzer shift dress
Have a beach party to attend soon? This colorful, pineapple-patterned shift dress from Lilly Pulitzer should be your plus-one. The material offers UPF 50+ sun protection and it’s lined on the interior. Sizes range from XXS to XXL.
Women’s Vuori Lux Harem jumpsuit
This roomy jumpsuit is made of buttery soft stretch knit fabric that offers moisture wicking and UPF 30+ sun protection. The leg cuff sits just above the ankle for a more casual look. Get it in green, black or reddish-brown in sizes XXS to XXL.