Clothes That Block the Sun

by Kelly Masi ; Updated September 28, 2017

The type of clothing worn can be the deciding factor in protection against sun damage.

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According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, many articles of clothing can protect your skin from the harmful rays of the sun if they are the correct weave, weight, material and color. It is also important that the clothing covers a large area of skin, preventing sun exposure to areas that may burn easily.

Dark Colors

Dark-colored clothing may attract the sun and feel extremely hot on your body when exposed to the sun, however it is the best type of clothing to protect against sunburn and sun damage. If you can hold the material up to the sun and visibility through the clothing is poor, it's a good protector against the sun. Light-colored clothing allows the sun to absorb right through, leaving little or no protection to your skin. Dark clothing has a higher Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF), which measures the amount of UV radiation that can penetrate the fabric and contact the skin. The higher the number, the better protection your skin is receiving.

Dry Clothing

Dry clothing protects the skin two times more than wet clothing. If you're wearing a white t-shirt over your bathing suit at the beach, it's not protecting your skin from sun exposure. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, as soon as an article of clothing gets wet, the UPF may decrease by half. If the article of clothing you're wearing to work out or play sports in becomes soaked in sweat, you're reducing the amount of protection to your skin rather than if the shirt was dry.

Thicker Clothing

The thicker and heavier the article of clothing, the more built-in ultraviolet protection it provides. When clothing is bound together with a tighter weave, less light is allowed to pass through. Some manufacturers are even making clothing specifically designed to protect your skin from UV rays and sun damage. The clothing contains tighter weaves and fabric that works to protect the skin from harmful UV rays.

Colorless Dyes

Purchase clothing that has been chemically treated with colorless dyes. Companies such as Konfidence, which manufactures UV protection swimwear for children, have a UV protection factor of 50 plus, which means that the areas of skin covered by the clothing are protected against 98 percent of harmful UV and Ultraviolet burning rays.

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About the Author

Kelly Masi, born and raised in upstate N.Y., has been writing professionally since 2009. She has been writing for various instructional websites since November 2010 and has also written for the website CafeMom. She received her associate degree in early childhood education from Fulton Montgomery Community College.