Wearing clothes is the most effective way to stop the sun’s ultraviolet rays from getting to your skin. Nowadays you can buy clothes made from specially manufactured sun protective fabrics. These clothes will be labelled with a UV Protection Factor (UPF) rating; the higher the number, the better the protection. Note that UPF protection is not equivalent to the SPF rating used for sunscreens; clothing labelled as UPF 50 gives much better protection than a sunscreen labelled as SPF 50.
However, it isn’t necessary to buy special clothes to keep the sun’s rays off you. Here are some tips for choosing what to wear to keep sun-safe:
- Wear shirts or tops with long sleeves and high collars or necklines, long pants, and long skirts.
- Wear dark coloured clothes instead of white. This provides 5 times more protection because the dye soaks up the UV rays.
- Wear clothes made from tightly woven fabric. Hold the material up to the light and see how much light comes through. The less light you see, the better the protection.
- Wear loose fitting clothes: the folds in loose clothes double the protection from the sun.
- Put on dry clothes after swimming or getting wet, as wet material is often much less protective.
If you or your family spend a lot of time outside, particularly doing activities in the water, it is a good idea to invest in swimwear such as a long-sleeved rash top and long shorts made from sun protective fabric with a very high UPF.
Don’t forget your feet! Jandals are great to wear over summer but they don’t provide much protection. If you can’t go without the jandals or sandals then make sure you apply plenty of sunscreen to your feet.