Is UPF Clothing Better Than Sunscreen?

Rayward Apparel

If you are looking for the best coverage and cost savings, UPF clothing is the way to go. However, even when wearing UV protection clothing, it’s important you still have a quality sunscreen on hand. This is because even with the best clothing, it’s difficult to keep areas like your face and hands protected. Regardless of what you use for the rest of your body, make sure you have sunscreen handy for any exposed areas.

Better And More Effective Coverage

With sun protective gear, there’s no question about the amount of coverage you are getting. There’s much less guesswork, and it’s impossible to miss a spot. For long days in the sun, UPF clothing is a no-brainer, you can ensure you are fully covered without ever having to re-apply. Keep in mind, if you are wearing a t-shirt without a UPF rating UV rays can still penetrate the shirt and it’s recommended you apply sunscreen underneath the shirt as well on any exposed areas.

UPF Clothing Coverage Advantages:

  • Wherever the clothing covers, you have proper protection. You can’t miss a spot, and you don’t need someone else to help you get your back
  • Longer lasting. Sunscreens have a maximum effective use of 2 hours before reapplication is needed, and that number is much shorter when wet. UV protection clothing provides coverage for the life of the fabric and you won’t need to continually re-apply throughout the day

Sunscreen Coverage Advantages

  • Can get areas of your body clothing does not cover - face, neck, and hands are some of the usual suspects
  • If unprepared, can easily be bought in any convenience store (make sure to buy a broad-spectrum and waterproof version)
  • In extreme heat, sunscreen might keep you a bit cooler. However, many sun protection clothing options are extremely breathable and lightweight - just make sure you choose a shirt color that will suit your needs.

**Keep in mind, if you are wearing a t-shirt without a UPF rating, it’s recommended you apply sunscreen underneath the shirt as well as on any exposed areas.

Cost Savings

Cost Savings UV CLothing

The cheapest sunscreens you can buy online generally sell for about $1 per ounce, and can go all the way up to $5+ per ounce. Considering most adults need at least 1 ounce of sunscreen for full coverage, the costs can add up quickly. This is especially true if you are reapplying multiple times throughout the day. Quality UV protection clothing may run you about $50 at the time of purchase, but will keep you covered for years to come, saving you on sunscreen costs each and every time you wear it. 

Top recommendations to maximize cost savings:

  • Wear a UPF shirt that maximizes your coverage. A hooded long sleeve shirt will not only cover your torso, but your neck and arms as well.
  • Wear a sun protective bucket hat. This will keep your head and ears protected as well without needing sunscreen in those areas.
  • Do you research and find the most cost effective sunscreen for your needs. Make sure it’s broad spectrum to keep you properly protected from both UVA and UVB rays.
  • For more ideas, dive in a little deeper on ways to limit your sunscreen use.

Always Stay Protected

Regardless of whether you choose to wear UV protection clothing or sunscreen, just make sure you stay covered. Any sun protection is better than none. It’s a well known fact that protecting yourself from UV rays will decrease the likelihood of skin cancer. And if you don’t believe us, check out the video to the left and maybe our Australian friend Sid the Seagull can convince you otherwise. Slip, slop, slap, seek and slide!