I’m the girl on the beach in a long-sleeve rash guard or cover-up dress (I love a good white linen button-up), sunglasses and a hat. And even then, I’m constantly reapplying SPF to any exposed parts, like my hands, legs and feet. Though it’s no secret bronzy skin can be beautiful, the consequences of sun damage are too great, and there are so many non-smelly, easy-to-use self-tanners out there these days. There’s just no reason to lay in the sun unprotected, or worse yet, use a tanning bed (believe it or not, people still do it). That’s where sun-protective clothing comes in, and now there are more options than ever.
“Sun-protective clothing, also known as UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) clothing, is effective in blocking harmful UV rays,” explains New York dermatologist Melissa Kanchanapoomi Levin, MD. “UPF clothing is specially designed to provide an extra layer of protection against the sun. It is woven tightly and often made from fabrics that offer a high UPF rating, such as polyester, nylon and certain types of cotton.”
Dr. Levin says she highly recommends UPF clothing to her patients, especially those with sensitive skin, a history of sunburns or a higher risk of skin cancer, or those who simply do not like to wear sunscreen and/or won’t reapply it on their body. It offers a convenient and reliable way to protect the skin from harmful UV radiation, and it works even when it’s wet. However, it’s important to note that UPF clothing should be used in conjunction with other sun protection methods, including sunscreen, for optimal results.”
Here, our dermatologist-recommend options for sun-protective clothing that really works to keep skin shielded from harmful (and aging) UV rays, whether you’re on the beach, playing sports, doing yard work, or anything in between.
“This clothing offers SPF 100+, and the higher the UPF rating, the more effective the clothing is at blocking UV rays. By wearing clothing with a high UPF rating, you can reduce your exposure to harmful UV. To ensure optimal shielding for your skin, I suggest considering brands like Sun Precautions. It offers a range of lightweight clothing options in various styles, including hats, gloves, pants, shirts, and more.” —Miami dermatologist Dr. Deborah Longwill
“I love the Solumbra activewear from Sun Precautions.” —Dr. Levin
“I am obsessed with UPF-rated or sun-protection clothing and accessories! The choices we have now regarding hats, beachwear, sportswear, and even athleisure are outstanding. There is a style and a price point for everyone.
It can be as simple as hopping on Amazon and searching sun-protective clothing. A great brand on a budget is Baleaf. They have tons of styles for both men and women.” —Davie, FL dermatologist Lesley Clark-Loeser, MD
“I pretty much live in sun-protective clothing during the summer months because it offers consistent and reliable UPF protection. I don’t have to worry about reapplying sunscreen or missing a spot. My goal is to protect my neck, décolleté, arms and hands. And, I wear sunscreen on my neck for extra protection. I know the neck skin ages faster than the skin on the rest of the body, and as we age we are less able to repair or regrow collagen, if at all.
I like the brand Cabana Life. The sun-protective clothing I wear is lightweight and breathable, which often makes it more comfortable than regular clothing. The newer styles are light and fashionable and come in beautiful colors and designs.” —New York dermatologist Doris Day, MD
“I personally like Coolibar’s UPF 50+ clothing line because it is lightweight, breathable and provides excellent sun protection.” —New York dermatologist Orit Markowitz, MD
“This is a phenomenal, dependable brand that is priced reasonably. It has beautiful fabrics and styles that aren’t just for sport activities, but for daily life as well.” —Dr. Clark-Loeser
“This is my favorite brand for UPF hats. They have all shapes and sizes for the whole family.” —Dr. Zedlitz
“It’s designer athleisure and luxury sportswear with UPF50 protection and high-stretch compression for activewear.” —Dr. Levin
“This is a line I personally love for working out outside. The long-sleeved UPF shirts are extremely breathable and can actually keep you cooler in the hot Florida sun where I live.” —Dr. Clark-Loeser
“I love this comfortable athletic and performance wear, which offers UPF protection.” —Dr. Levin
“High-end lines have jumped in the ring, too! Cynthia Rowley and Trina Turk have some of the most stunning and fun patterns for your next trip to the beach. I just love the reliable physical protection that UPF fabrics offer us when we are in the sun and hopefully having fun!” —Dr. Clark-Loeser
“Another great option is sun-protective swimwear. Mott50 offers stylish swimsuits with UPF protection, which is perfect for those who love to swim or spend time at the beach. It is both fashionable and functional.” —Dr. Markowitz
“I love their UPF swimwear for kids and babies.” —Dr. Levin
“For UPF hats, I like the ones from Wallaroo—they come in SPF 30 and 50 styles—as well as Kaiola, which makes UPF 80 hats you can also wear in the water.” —Dr. Levin
Lastly, don’t forget about sun hats and sunglasses. Wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses with UV protection are essential for protecting your face and eyes from the sun’s harmful rays. Brands like Sol bari, Sunday Afternoons and Ray-Ban offer a wide range of stylish sun hats and sunglasses that provide excellent sun protection. Sol bari also does a great with UPF arm and hand sleeves which are great UPF accessories.
“Don’t forget about sun hats and sunglasses. Wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses with UV protection are essential for protecting your face and eyes from the sun’s harmful rays. Brands like Solbari and Ray-Ban offer a wide range of stylish sun hats and sunglasses that provide excellent sun protection. Solbari also does a great with UPF arm and hand sleeves, which are great UPF accessories.” —Dr. Markowitz