Sun protection is one of those things we should incorporate into our daily routines. In reality, applying a layer of sunscreen on the daily falls to the bottom of the priority list with the other less desirable self-care practices like flossing… we all lie to our dentists on that one, right?
However, with skin cancer making up 80-90% of cancer diagnoses around the world, sun protection is something everyone should rank higher on their priority list. If you’re not excited to cover your whole body with sunscreen, there is an alternative that is actually more effective – UPF-rated shirts.
What is a UPF-Rated Shirt?
UPF stands for Ultraviolet Protection Factor. UPF measures the amount of UV radiation (both UVA and UVB) that can penetrate the fabric and reach your skin. The higher the UPF rating, the better you are protected from the sun. For example, a UPF of 30 to 49 is considered very good, while anything higher than 50 is considered excellent. A fabric with a UPF of 50 blocks 98% of the sun’s rays. Fabrics with a UPF rating lower than 15 are not considered UV-protective.
What Makes a UPF-Rated Shirt Different?
Four factors are considered for UPF-rated shirts: color, construction, treatments, and fiber type.
Color: Overall, darker colors prevent the most UV rays from reaching your skin. Saturation is key for higher protection. For example, a hot pink fabric is going to protect you better than a baby pink shade. The bolder the better, when it comes to sun protection.
Construction: The tighter the knit of the fabric, the better it will protect your skin. Looser knits allow more sun through the materials. If you can see the light shine through the fabric when you hold it up to the sun, chances are the sun’s rays will be able to reach your skin. Thicker fabrics have a higher UPF-rating.
Treatments: Dyes and chemicals added in the production process of the fabric can improve the UPF rating.
Fiber Type: Polyester, silk, and wool all do a great job of blocking the sun’s rays, while cotton, rayon, hemp, and flax typically let more rays through unless they are treated.
What to Look for in Sun Safe Shirts
Other factors you should consider when looking for sun protective options are the fit of the material and its usage.
In terms of fit, you should look for shirts that are loose or relaxed. This matters because if a fabric is stretched, it can reduce the level of protection. You should also look for options with long sleeves, extended collars, etc. as the fabric can only protect the skin covered. Because a long sleeve shirt may sound like the last thing you want to wear in the heat (we get it), look for options that have vents or zippers that allow for ventilation without exposing too much skin.
In addition to fit, it’s also important to consider what activity you will be doing in the shirt. For example, when fabric gets wet it can significantly reduce the UPF rating. Because of this, it’s a good idea to look for quick-drying fabric if you know you will get wet while wearing it.
Brands We Offer with Skin Cancer Foundation Approval
In order for a UPF-rated shirt to be recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation, it must have a UPF rating of 30. Two brands we offer that fall into this category are Denali Performance Apparel and Vapor Elemental Wear. These brands offer a wide selection of options that are moisture-wicking to keep you cool and safe from the sun’s rays. All they need now is your design!
Ready to start your next project? Contact a Daymaker today! Looking for more content? Check out our last blog “The 5 Steps You Need to Prepare Your Design File for Screen Printing”.