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How to choose the best sun protection clothing

  • 5 min read

How to choose the best sun protection clothing

Whether you’re at the beach, gardening, or just walking around town, protecting your skin from the sun’s harmful rays should be a priority. 

Sunlight includes rays of ultraviolet (UV) radiation, and exposure to those rays can lead to sunburn, premature skin aging, and skin cancer. 

Choosing the right clothing that has an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) built into it can reduce your risk. What’s more, sun-protective clothing is the simplest way to stay safe; unlike sunscreen, you never need to reapply!

Lady gardening while wearing GearTOP Navigator Series sun hat

Applying sunscreen is not associated with fewer sunburns. The odds of multiple sunburns are significantly lower in people who avoid the sun or wear sun-protective fabric or clothing. Let us dive into what UPF and SPF are all about.

Ultraviolet A (UVA)

UVA has higher wavelengths but contains lower energy levels compared to other UV rays. However, UVA has more penetrating power than UVB, which means that it can affect the cells deeper in the skin. Due to its penetrating “power,” it can cause premature skin aging and some skin cancers.

Ultraviolet A (UVA)

• Ultraviolet B (UVB)

UVB rays have shorter wavelengths and higher energy levels. They damage the outermost layers of the skin and directly damage the DNA. Moreover, these rays cause most skin cancers and may also play a role in premature skin aging.

• Ultraviolet C (UVC)

UVC is the shortest and it never reaches the earth because the ozone layer absorbs its rays. They are considered to be the most dangerous because they have the most energy compared to other UV rays.

Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF)

Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) indicates the amount of UV radiation a fabric allows to reach the skin. It comes in various ratings, and obviously, the higher the UPF rating, the stronger the protection against the sun. 

Today, a fabric must have at least a UPF of 30 to qualify for The Skin Cancer Foundation’s Seal of Recommendation. Another thing to remember about UPF is that it measures both UVB and UVA rays.

How does UPF differ from SPF?

UPF can protect against UVA and UVB rays, which means that it provides more comprehensive protection than SPF.

On the other hand, Sun Protection Factor (SPF) is based on the time it takes for UV-exposed skin to redden; if you burn after 20 minutes, an SPF15 sunscreen, if used correctly, may protect your skin 15 times longer.

Sun Protection Factor (SPF) 30

The meaning of UPF ratings

15, 20 - good, 6.7-4.2% effective UV transmission

25, 30, 35 - very good, 4.1% - 2.6% effective UV transmission

40, 45, 50, 50+ - excellent, less than 2.5% effective UV transmission

When you are buying clothing, the higher the UPF rating is, the better. There is no fabric with a UPF rating below 15 because it will not provide sufficient protection from UV rays.

Why protect your skin

The skin is the largest organ of the human body. It is soft, to allow movement, but still tough enough to resist breaking or tearing. The skin varies in texture and thickness from one part of the body to the next.

Some of the different functions of skin include:

• Waterproof wrapping for our entire body

The skin is waterproof, airtight, and a flexible barrier between the environment and our internal organs. It helps keep the internal environment of the body keeps stable.

What makes the skin waterproof is mainly due to the main skin cell, the keratinocyte, that makes up the epidermis. This particular skin cell produces a tough protein called keratin which gives skin resistance to physical wear and tears and makes it waterproof.

• The first line of defense for our entire body

The skin contains beneficial bacteria that stop harmful bacteria from taking over. Moreover, the skin has a thick layer of dead cells in the epidermis that provides a physical barrier against harmful pathogens.

• A cooling system via sweat

Due to the immense blood supply, the skin can help regulate body temperature. It is associated with sweat glands that help protect us from high temperatures by cooling us off through the process of evaporation.

• A sense organ that gives information about pain, pleasure, temperature, and pressure

The skin’s “sense of touch” gives our brains a lot of information about the natural environment, such as temperature, humidity, and air pressure. Moreover, it is this sense of touch that allows us to feel physical pain that is necessary to help us avoid disease, injury, and danger.

Some common skin problems include:

• Acne caused by hormones

Acne is caused by hormones and is a skin problem that develops in response to hormonal changes. Acne develops on the skin when the body makes excess sebum, which is an oil that prevents the skin from drying out.

acne caused by hormones

• Warts caused by a virus

Skin warts may seem harmless, but these are actually an infection of the skin caused by viruses in the human papillomavirus, or HPV. Infection occurs through a tiny scratch that rapidly grows on the outer layer of the skin, which creates a wart.

warts caused by a virus

• Dermatitis inflammation of the skin, with many different triggers

Skin dermatitis is a common condition with many causes and occurs in various forms. Typically, it involves itchy, dry skin or a rash on swollen, reddened skin. In some cases, it may cause the skin to blister, ooze, crust, or flake off.

• Fungal infections-such as tinea (athlete’s foot)

Skin fungal infections are caused by a fungus. It can happen anywhere on the body, yet some of the most common are athlete’s foot, jock itch, ringworm, and yeast infections.

Fungal infections such as tinea (athlete’s foot)

• Skin cancer from long-term exposure to the sun’s UV rays

Skin cancer is the most common cancer. Too much UV exposure may increase your risk over time. Even if the body can repair some of the DNA damage in the skin cells, it won’t be able to repair all of the damage. The unrepaired damage builds up over time, which triggers mutations that cause skin cells to multiply fast. This can lead to malignant tumors.


Not caring about your skin can lead to severe medical conditions, such as melanoma or skin cancer.If you love the outdoors as much as we do, why risk it? 

Or better yet,join us in our core belief of PREVENTION. Keep your skin protected while you enjoy the time under the sun with the right clothing!

woman wearing a hat and denim jacket

Protect yourself from the harmful UV rays,check out our sun hats. Our sun hats come with UPF 50+ protection—and they’re incredibly stylish, too!

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