The Importance of UPF Clothes in Preventing Skin Cancer

Rayward Apparel

Key Highlights

  • Sun-protective clothing is one of the most effective forms of protection against sun damage and skin cancer.
  • Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) indicates much UV radiation a fabric allows to reach your skin.
  • Unlike standard apparel options, UPF clothes provide excellent protection against both UVB and UVA rays- Factors like color, construction, content, fit, and UPF rating determine the sun safety of clothing.
  • UPF apparel offers better protection than regular fabrics, which is especially important in outdoor activities.
  • Incorporating UPF clothes into your daily life is an easy and effective way to help prevent skin cancer.


Sun protection is essential, especially in today's world where the harmful effects of the sun's rays are well-known. While applying sunscreen is a common practice, it is important to remember that there is another effective way to protect your skin from the sun – by wearing UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) apparel. UPF clothing offers a higher level of protection against the sun's harmful UV radiation, making it an essential part of any sun protection routine.

Understanding UPF and Its Significance in Sun Protection

UPF stands for Ultraviolet Protection Factor, which indicates how much UV radiation a fabric allows to reach your skin. The higher the UPF rating, the better the protection. UPF clothing acts as a barrier between your skin and the sun, reducing the risk of sunburn, premature aging, and skin cancer. Regular clothes typically have very limited UV protective qualities, but UPF clothing is specially designed to provide superior sun protection and is lab tested to provide a significant amount of protection against both UVB and UVA rays.

Defining UPF: A Closer Look at Ultraviolet Protection Factor

Lab technician looking through microscope

Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) is a numerical rating system that measures the amount of UV radiation a fabric allows to reach your skin. For example, a fabric certified at UPF 50+ blocks 98% or more of the sun's rays and allows only 2% to penetrate. A UPF 30 rating blocks about 96% of the UV radiation - a similar scale and protection level as a sunscreens SPF, but specific to fabrics. The higher the UPF rating, the better the protection. UPF clothing is tested and certified to ensure that it meets specific standards for sun protection, in the US the standard test method to do so is AATCC 183. It is important to note that UPF measures both UVB and UVA rays, providing comprehensive protection against the sun's harmful effects.

How UPF Clothing Works to Shield Your Skin

UPF clothing works by blocking and absorbing the sun's harmful UV radiation, reducing its exposure to your skin. The UPF rating determines how much UV radiation is filtered, with higher ratings offering better protection. By wearing UPF clothes, you can significantly reduce your exposure to UV rays, lowering the risk of sunburn, skin damage, and most importantly, skin cancer. Regular clothes may provide some protection, but UPF apparel is specifically designed to offer a higher level of UV protection, making it an essential choice for those who spend a lot of time outdoors or are at a higher risk for skin cancer such as those with Gorlin Syndrome and similar genetic conditions.

Gorlin Syndrome Alliance Badge

The Science Behind UPF Clothing

UPF clothing is the result of extensive research and development in textile technology. The fabrics used in UPF apparel are carefully selected and designed to provide maximum sun protection, specifically ensuring they provide the appropriate level of UV protection to enjoy the outdoors. The science behind UPF clothing lies in the composition and construction of the fabric, which determines its ability to block UV radiation. Textiles with a tight weave, high-density fibers, and can sometimes even have specific treatments or additives which can enhance the UPF rating of the fabric. But at the end of the day, in order to classify something as UPF it needs to be tested accordingly.

Material Matters: What Makes UPF Clothes Different

The materials used in UPF clothing are specially chosen for their ability to block UV radiation. However, that does not mean they are any less comfortable, lightweight, or breathable than the non-UPF alternatives. With the right design and technology, UPF clothes are often times higher quality, more comfortable, and perform at a much higher level. Some fabrics like bamboo blends and polyester are naturally UV protective, making them great lightweight options for UPF apparel. Additionally, while we tend to avoid any chemicals here at Rayward some UPF clothing brands may be treat their products with chemical UV absorbers or dyes that further enhance the garment's sun protection properties. The specific combination of materials and treatments in UPF clothes set them apart from regular fabrics..

UPF Ratings Explained: Deciphering the Numbers

UPF ratings indicate the level of UV protection provided by a fabric. The higher the UPF rating, the greater the protection. A fabric must have a UPF of 30 or higher to qualify for The Skin Cancer Foundation's Seal of Recommendation. A UPF rating of 30 to 49 offers very good protection, while a UPF rating of 50+ is considered excellent and the highest possible rating clothing can achieve. It is important to note that UPF measures both UVB and UVA rays, whereas the Sun Protection Factor (SPF) measures only UVB rays (unless the sunscreen is designated as broad spectrum). Understanding UPF ratings helps consumers make informed choices when selecting UPF clothing for optimal sun protection.

Comparing UPF Clothes with Standard Lightweight Summer Wear

When it comes to sun protection, UPF clothes offer significant advantages over standard summer wear. Regular clothing may provide some protection from the sun, but UPF apparel is specifically designed to offer a higher level of defense against harmful UV radiation. It provides the piece of mind knowing that you enjoying the outdoors is not putting you at additional risk for skin cancer or UV related skin damage. UPF apparel provides comprehensive protection by blocking both UVB and UVA rays. Like most summer wear, UPF clothes can still be designed to be unbelievably comfortable and lightweight, but with the added benefit of superior UV protection. In contrast, regular summer wear may not have the same level of UV protection and can leave your skin vulnerable to sun damage. If you'll be outdoors you should always check for a UPF level. If you don't see a UPF level, it's likely not designed for UV protection.

UPF vs. Regular Fabrics: The Sun Protection Showdown

Metal scale on desk

UPF clothing outshines regular fabrics when it comes to sun protection. While regular apparel may provide some level of protection against the sun's rays, it is not specifically designed to block or absorb UV radiation. Most standard cotton shirts have a UV protection level of less than UPF 5, far less than is recommended. UPF clothes, on the other hand, are carefully engineered to minimize the penetration of UVB and UVA rays, reducing the risk of skin cancer - the number one diagnosed cancer in America.

Why UPF Clothing Is a Must-Have for Outdoor Activities

When engaging in outdoor activities, protecting your skin from the sun's harmful UV rays is crucial. You don't need to lock yourself indoors too prevent UV exposure, but you need to make sure you are properly protected. UPF clothing becomes a must-have for various reasons:

  • UPF clothing provides superior sun protection, blocking a significant amount of UV radiation.
  • UV swimwear, rash guards, and sun hats with UPF ratings offer added protection during water-related activities.
  • UPF clothes are designed to be lightweight, breathable, and comfortable, ensuring you can enjoy your favorite outdoor activities without feeling weighed down.
  • UPF apparel eliminates the need for constant reapplication of sunscreen, providing hassle-free sun protection.
  • By incorporating UPF clothes into your outdoor wardrobe, you can enjoy sunny days with peace of mind, knowing that your skin is well-protected.

The Role of UPF Clothing in Preventing Skin Cancer and Melanoma

Preventing skin cancer is a top priority for many individuals. Not only is it the most diagnosed cancer in the US, but it's estimated that 1 out of every 5 Americans are diagnosed with some form of skin cancer by the age of 70. UPF clothes play a crucial role in this prevention by providing a high level of sun protection, one of the best preventative measures. The ability of UPF clothing to block UV radiation significantly reduces the risk of skin cancer and long-term skin damage. By minimizing exposure to harmful UV rays, UPF clothing lowers the risk of developing skin cancer, including melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. Incorporating UPF apparel into your sun protection routine is a proactive step towards safeguarding your skin and reducing the chances of skin cancer in the future.

Connecting the Dots: UPF Clothes and Skin Cancer Prevention

Melanoma Research Alliance Partner Badge

The connection between UPF clothing and skin cancer prevention is clear. The Skin Cancer Foundation recognizes the importance of UPF apparel in protecting the skin from harmful UV radiation. UPF clothes provide a physical barrier that blocks a significant amount of UVB and UVA rays, reducing the risk of sunburn and skin damage. Unlike sunscreen, you never need to reapply and it protects from both UVA and UVB rays. Here at Rayward, we not only create the highest quality and most comfortable UPF clothing options, but we are also partnered with the largest non-profit funder of Melanoma research - The Melanoma Research Alliance. A portion of all Rayward sales is donated directly to their cause, something we are very proud of.

The Dermatologist's View on UPF Clothing and Skin Health

Dermatologists strongly advocate for the use of UPF clothing as a crucial part of a comprehensive sun protection strategy. UPF clothes offer a higher level of protection compared to regular clothing, reducing the risk of sunburn, premature aging, and skin cancer. Dermatologists emphasize the importance of minimizing sun exposure and using multiple forms of sun protection, including UPF clothes. By incorporating UPF clothes into your daily routine, you can significantly lower your risk of developing skin cancer, including melanoma. Dermatologists recommend wearing UPF clothes along with broad-spectrum sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses to ensure maximum protection for your skin.

Incorporating UPF Clothing into Your Daily Life

Incorporating UPF clothing into your daily life is a simple and effective way to protect your skin from the sun's harmful rays. By making UPF apparel a part of your wardrobe, you can ensure that you have reliable sun protection wherever you go regardless of whether you'll be inside or outdoors. Whether it's for outdoor activities, daily errands, or work, UPF clothes offer a convenient and hassle-free solution and is some of the most comfortable clothes available. From swimwear and rash guards to lightweight tops and accessories, there are plenty of stylish options available that provide excellent UV protection. By choosing UPF apparel, you can prioritize your skin health without compromising on style or comfort.

Choosing UPF Apparel for Every Season

When it comes to choosing UPF apparel for every season, there are a few key factors to consider. First, look for lightweight fabrics that will keep you cool and comfortable in warmer months. Opt for long-sleeved shirts and pants or skirts to maximize coverage. Consider investing in a sun hoodie or tee with a high UPF rating, as these pieces can provide excellent protection for outdoor activities. Don't forget to check the label for the UPF rating before making a purchase. UPF clothing is available in a wide range of styles and colors, so you can stay protected without sacrificing your personal style.

Care and Maintenance Tips for UPF Clothing

Taking care of your UPF clothing is essential to maintain its protective properties. Follow the care instructions provided by the manufacturer to ensure longevity. Most UPF garments can be machine washed, but it's important to avoid using bleach or fabric softeners, as these can reduce the fabric's UPF rating. Hang your garments to dry instead of using a dryer if possible, as excessive heat can also affect UPF performance, but typically tumble dry on low is the recommended method. If your UPF clothing becomes damaged or loses its effectiveness over time, consider replacing it to ensure continued sun protection. Regularly inspect your garments for signs of wear or fading, and be proactive in replacing them when necessary.

Beyond Clothing: Other Essential Sun Safety Measures

Woman applying sunscreen

In addition to wearing UPF clothes, there are other essential sun safety measures to keep in mind. Sunscreen is a crucial part of sun protection and should be applied to exposed skin, even when wearing UPF clothing. Look for broad-spectrum sunscreen with a high SPF (Sun Protection Factor) to ensure comprehensive protection. Don't forget to protect your eyes with sunglasses that offer UV protection. Wearing a wide-brimmed hat along with your UPF clothes can provide additional protection for your face, scalp, and neck. These measures, combined with UPF apparel, create a winning combination for sun safety.

Sunscreen and UPF Clothes: A Winning Combination For UV Protection

While UPF clothing provides excellent protection against the sun, it should not be used as a replacement for sunscreen. Sunscreen and UPF clothes work together to provide comprehensive sun protection. Apply sunscreen to exposed skin, even when wearing UPF clothing, to ensure all areas are protected. Look for broad-spectrum sunscreen with a high SPF (Sun Protection Factor) to shield against both UVA and UVB rays. Remember to reapply sunscreen every two hours, or more frequently if sweating or swimming. The combination of UPF clothes and sunscreen creates a winning combination for UV protection, reducing the risk of sun damage and skin cancer.

Additional Accessories for Enhanced Protection from UV Rays

In addition to UPF clothing and sunscreen, there are other accessories that can enhance your sun protection. Sunglasses with UV protection help shield your eyes from harmful UV rays. Look for sunglasses that block 100% of UVA and UVB rays for optimal protection. A wide-brimmed sun hat provides additional coverage for your face, scalp, and neck. Choose a hat with a brim of at least three inches to ensure maximum protection. These additional accessories, combined with UPF clothing and sunscreen, provide enhanced protection against the sun's harmful rays.

Debunking Myths About UPF Clothing

There are some common misconceptions about UPF clothing that need to be debunked. One myth is that sun protective clothes can replace sunscreen entirely. While UPF clothes provide excellent protection, it should be used in conjunction with sunscreen for comprehensive sun protection. Another myth is that all clothes provide the same level of sun protection. In reality, the UPF rating of clothing can vary dramatically, so it's important to check the label for the specific UPF rating. If you don't see a UPF rating it's best to assume it's providing less protection than you need. Understanding the facts about sun protective apparel is essential for making informed decisions about UV protection.

Fact vs. Fiction: Common Misconceptions About Sun Protective Clothing

There are several common misconceptions about UV protective clothes that can lead to confusion.

  • Myth: Sun protective clothes are only necessary on sunny days. Fact: UV rays can penetrate clouds, so UV protective clothing is important even on overcast days.
  • Myth: All clothing provides the same level of UV protection. Fact: The UPF rating of clothing can vary, so it's essential to check the label for the specific UPF rating.
  • Myth: Sun protective clothes are uncomfortable to wear. Fact: UV clothing is designed to be lightweight, breathable, and comfortable, making it suitable for all-day wear.

Understanding the facts about sun protective clothing is crucial for making informed choices and protecting your skin from harmful UV rays.

The Truth About UPF Clothing and Comfort

One common misconception about UPF clothes is that they are uncomfortable to wear. In reality, UV protective clothes are designed to be both protective and comfortable. While there are many low quality sun protective clothing options in the marketplace, there are also many outstanding ones. Many high quality UPF 50 sun protection clothing options are made with lightweight and breathable fabrics that allow for air circulation and moisture-wicking, keeping you cool and comfortable even in warm weather. UPF clothes are often designed with features such as flat seams and tagless labels to minimize irritation and maximize comfort. Additionally, the loose-fitting nature of many sun protective garments allows for ease of movement and further enhances comfort. With the advances in UPF clothing technology, there is no need to compromise comfort for sun protection.

Making the Switch: How to Start Choosing UPF Over Regular Clothes

Making the switch to UPF clothing is a simple and effective way to enhance your sun protection. Start by looking for clothes with a UPF rating of 30 or higher, which is recommended for adequate protection. Look for brands similar to Rayward that specifically focus on sun protection and sun protective gear. Consider investing in key pieces like long-sleeved shirts, pants, and hats that offer maximum coverage. Gradually replace your regular clothes with UPF options to build a sun-safe wardrobe that will help reduce your risk of skin cancer and sun damage.

Shopping for UPF Protective Clothing: What to Look For

When shopping for UPF clothing, there are a few key factors to consider. Look for garments specifically labeled with a UPF rating of 30 or higher to ensure adequate protection - the higher the rating the better protection it provides. Consider investing in UV swimwear and rash guards for added protection during water activities. Check for additional features such as moisture-wicking properties and ventilation to keep you cool and comfortable. Look for online retailers that offer free shipping to make the shopping experience more convenient. Shop from reputable brands that prioritize quality and adhere to the necessary standards for sun protection. And if you are an outdoor brand, consider developing your own custom UPF apparel. By considering these factors, you can confidently choose UPF clothing that will keep you safe from harmful UV rays.

Budget-Friendly Tips for Updating Your Wardrobe with UPF Protection Clothing

Putting money in black piggy bank

Updating your wardrobe with UPF options doesn't have to break the bank. Here are some budget-friendly tips to help you incorporate UPF clothing into your wardrobe:

  1. Look for sales and discounts: Keep an eye out for sales and discounts on sun protective clothes. Many retailers offer promotions throughout the year, allowing you to save money while still getting the sun protection you need.
  2. Shop off-season: Purchase UPF clothing during off-season sales to take advantage of discounted prices. While the selection may be limited, you can stock up on essentials at a fraction of the original cost.
  3. Prioritize key pieces: Invest in key UPF pieces that offer maximum sun protection, such as long-sleeved shirts, sun hoodies, and pants. By focusing on these essential items, you can build a versatile and sun-safe wardrobe without breaking the bank.
  4. Mix and match: Don't feel like you need to replace your entire wardrobe with sun protective options. Mix and match sun protective clothing with your existing wardrobe to incorporate sun protection into your everyday outfits.


UPF clothing plays a vital role in shielding your skin from harmful UV rays, significantly reducing the risk of skin cancer. Understanding the science behind UPF ratings and how these clothes work is crucial for sun protection. By incorporating UPF clothes into your daily life, especially during outdoor activities, you prioritize your skin's health. Remember, pairing UPF clothing with sunscreen offers enhanced protection. Debunking myths about UPF clothes reveals their comfort and effectiveness. Embrace the advances in UPF technology and make the switch to UPF apparel for a safer and healthier lifestyle. Stay informed, stay protected. Subscribe for more sun safety tips.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can UPF 50 Clothing Replace Sunscreen?

No, UPF clothing cannot replace sunscreen entirely. While UPF clothes provide excellent protection, it is important to use sunscreen on exposed skin to ensure comprehensive sun protection. The combination of sun protective clothes and sunscreen offers the best defense against harmful UV rays.

How Long Does UPF Protection Last?

UPF protection can vary depending on the fabric's durability and how well it withstands wear and tear. Over time, the effectiveness of UPF clothing may diminish due to factors such as repeated washing, stretching, or exposure to chemicals. Generally speaking, it's recommended to replace your sun protective clothes every 2 years or so of regular use, but replacement may be needed sooner if its worn down. It's important to follow the care instructions provided by the garment manufacturer to maintain the UPF protection of your clothing and ensure its longevity against harmful UV rays.

Is UPF Clothing Necessary on Cloudy Days?

Yes, wearing sun protective clothing is necessary even on cloudy days. UV rays can penetrate clouds and still pose a risk to your skin. Cloud cover may reduce the intensity of UV radiation, but it doesn't eliminate the need for sun protection. UPF clothes provide an extra layer of defense against harmful UV rays, ensuring your skin is protected regardless of the weather conditions.

Can I Get Vitamin D While Wearing Clothing with UPF?

While UPF clothing blocks a significant amount of UVB rays, which are responsible for vitamin D synthesis in the skin, it doesn't completely eliminate sun exposure. It's still possible to get some vitamin D through sun-exposed areas of uncovered skin or by taking vitamin D supplements. However, it's important to prioritize sun protection and consult with a healthcare professional to ensure you maintain a healthy balance of sun exposure and vitamin D levels.

How to Choose UPF Clothing for Sensitive Skin?

When choosing UPF clothing for sensitive skin, opt for fabrics that are hypoallergenic and gentle on the skin. Look for garments made from natural fibers like cotton or bamboo, which are breathable and less likely to cause irritation. Additionally, check to see how the UPF level is achieved. While many clothing options are achieved through the shirts natural fabric composition and the design of the shirt, some brands utilize chemical treatments to achieve a higher UPF rating which may irritate people with sensitive skin.