When you are out in the sun, wear clothing to protect as much skin as possible. Clothes provide different levels of protection, depending on many factors. Long-sleeved shirts, long pants, or long skirts cover the most skin and are the most protective. Dark colors generally provide more protection than light colors. A tightly woven fabric protects better than loosely woven clothing. Dry fabric is generally more protective than wet fabric.
If you can see light through a fabric, UV rays can get through too. Be aware that covering up doesn’t block out all UV rays. A typical light T-shirt worn in the summer usually protects you less than sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher.
The ideal sun-protective fabrics are lightweight, comfortable, and protect against exposure even when wet. A few companies in the United States now make sun-protective clothing. They tend to be more tightly woven, and some have special coatings to help absorb UV rays. Some sun-protective clothes have a label listing the ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) value — the level of protection the garment provides from the sun’s UV rays (on a scale from 15 to 50+).The higher the UPF, the higher the protection from UV rays.
Children’s swimsuits made from sun-protective fabric and designed to cover the child from the neck to the knees are popular in Australia. They are now available in some areas of the United States.
Newer products are now available to increase the UPF value of clothes you already own. Used like laundry detergents, they add a layer of UV protection to your clothes without changing the color or texture.
(Click on our prevention steps for more information)