Sun Protective Clothing

Sun Protective Clothing

Do you get tired of having to reapply sunscreen to your arms and hard to reach areas like your back?  Have you ever wondered if there are other ways to protect your skin other than sunscreen?  Sun protective clothing may be the solution for you!

I am an avid outdoors-man.  I spend hours backpacking, camping, kayaking/canoeing, and cycling.  Knowing that I will be spending lots of time in the sun, protection is always on my mind.  Sun protective clothing has become a critical part of protecting my skin.  Before I talk more about how the clothing works and where you can buy it, I first want to make a distinction between SPF (Sun Protective Factor) and UPF (Ultraviolet Protective Factor).

Sunscreens have SPF ratings.  SPF is a measurement for sunscreens and cosmetic products to indicate the fraction of sun-burn producing UV rays that reach the skin.  If you are using a sunscreen with SPF 30 and it typically takes you 10 minutes to burn, it would theoretically protect your skin for 300 minutes.  You multiply the SPF by the amount of time it would take you to normally burn.  Most sunscreens will block only UVB light.  UVA light is known to also cause premature aging and increases the risk for skin cancers, so it is important that you look for a broad spectrum sunscreen.  Please remember that sunscreen can wipe off and break down over time.  Reapplication is extremely important!

UPF is the measurement used for how effective clothing is at blocking ultraviolet light.  If a garment is rated as UPF 50, it means that only 1/50th of the ultraviolet light is getting through to your skin.  Sun protective clothing is better than sunscreen in that it does a much better job of blocking both UVA and UVB light.  You also don’t have to worry about reapplying.  Sunscreen can rub off and degrade over time.  This is not the case for sun protective clothing.

The most important part of sun protective clothing is the tightness of the fabric and how it is made.  The less space there is between the individual strands of fabric, the higher the UPF.  This is what literally blocks the ultraviolet light and protects your skin.  Below I have examples of various fabrics and their UPF rating.

upf 3


 upf 9


upf 30


upf 60


upf 115


Some sun protective clothing can be found in brick and mortar stores, however, they can be few and far between.  Below I will list some of my favorite websites to shop on.  I have no financial interest in these companies.  They just carry great products!

Hopefully, you are already getting ready for the warmer weather this year and stocking up on your sunscreen and now sun protective clothing.  If you have any dermatology needs, the providers at Advanced Dermatology & Skin Cancer Center would be pleased to be a part of your health care.


Bentonville:  701 NW McNelly Rd. Bentonville, AR 72712 (479-268-3555)

Fayetteville:  1444 E Stearns St. Fayetteville, AR 72703 (479-718-7546)

Harrison:  520 N Pine St. Harrison, AR 72601 (870-204-5279)

Ryan Crowder, MPAS, PA-C

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