Do You Wear Sunscreen Under UPF Clothing?

Rayward Apparel

While there is no need to wear sunscreen under your UPF long sleeve sun shirt, you may want to consider it for other articles of clothing. UV radiation can penetrate clothing, but it all depends exactly how much. This might seem like a ridiculous idea, but it’s actually something more people should be considering. Below are some situations when you should and shouldn’t consider applying sunscreen underneath your clothing:

If Your Shirt Has a UPF Rating Listed:

Should you wear sunscreen underneath? No need.

A long sleeve sun shirt with a UPF 50 rating means you are receiving the equivalent protection of a sunscreen with an SPF 50 rating. So in this situation - no, it’s not necessary to also wear sunscreen underneath your clothing. Oftentimes people choose to buy a sun shirt because it allows them to go about their day without having to apply sunscreen. It always keeps you covered, never needs reapplication, and is also a very comfortable option. If you already have proper UPF gear, no need to lather up with sunscreen as well (except for any exposed areas like the hands and face).

No UPF Rating Listed, But You Think Your Shirt Is Sun Protective:

Armor UPF Protection

Should you wear sunscreen underneath? It depends.

Without proper lab testing, it’s very difficult to determine exactly how much protection you are getting. If you can hold a fabric up to a light and absolutely no light can get through, it’s likely that it is providing superb protection. However, this is not always the case. Even UPF 50 long sleeve sun shirts allow visible light through, but still provide excellent UPF protection.

Below are some of the other factors to consider when determining if you are receiving enough UV protection. If you are looking for more information on this topic, our post about which fabric block UV rays helps provide more specifics.

  • Fiber Material: Certain fibers like nylon, polyester, and bamboo often have a higher UPF value than cotton
  • Fiber Construction: A tight weave with less space between threads results in better protection.
  • Fit: Loose-fitting apparel is preferable to tight. The tighter the apparel, the more likely it is to stretch and allow UV rays through.
  • Style: The more coverage the better. A hooded long sleeve sun shirt not only protects your torso, but your neck and arms. 

A Typical Cotton Shirt

Average Cotton Shirt, No UPF

Should you wear sunscreen underneath? Yes.

If you are wearing a generic cotton shirt and are going to be out in the sun, you should apply sunscreen underneath. The reason UPF shirts exist at all is because the standard cotton shirt simply does not provide proper protection. You might only be receiving a UPF protection of 1-5, which is well below the dermatologist minimum recommendation of 30. In this situation, you should certainly wear sunscreen underneath your shirt. UV exposure is linked to skin cancer, and there’s no need to risk it for a subtle inconvenience.

At Rayward Apparel, all of our products are rated at UPF 30 or greater. All of our products and individual color variations have been tested and certified, providing our customers the peace of mind knowing they have proper protection. While protective, our products are also designed with functionality in mind. Our SUN BOUND collection of athletic shirts are designed for athletes to perform as well as they protect. You shouldn’t have to sacrifice your comfort to keep your skin safe.