How well does clothing protect me from the sun?

Not all clothing protects the same, and some does not protect you at all. Research says that if you are relying on your clothes to protect you from the sun, there is a right way and a wrong way to dress. Wearing clothing helps to block the sun, but clothing alone may not be sufficient. For example, a regular white T-shirt provides a sun protection factor (SPF) of 6 or 7 at the most, and the SPF of a wet T-shirt is even lower. In other words, if you swim in a white T-shirt and think you are protected, you might just get burned. If you're planning on being outdoors, apply sunblock 15 minutes before you get dressed. Or, wear tightly woven fabric -- polyester and rayon are better than cotton. Dark clothing blocks more ultraviolet light than light colors and mesh materials offer virtually no protection from the sun. 


Continue Learning about Sun Care

Does someone who wears sun protection develop fewer lines?
Dr. Ellen Marmur, MDDr. Ellen Marmur, MD
Sun damage causes most wrinkling in the first place. Antioxidants like green tea are currently being...
More Answers
How effective is sun-protective clothing?
Phillip J. Landrigan, MDPhillip J. Landrigan, MD
Even if a piece of clothing has a good UPF (ultraviolet protection factor), what you do while we...
More Answers
Should I wear a hat in the sun?
Dr. Doris Day, MDDr. Doris Day, MD
Hats are pretty and stylish as well as protective, so get yourself a head-turning collection of hats...
More Answers
How often should I reapply sunscreen if I am outdoors all day?
Medical City McKinneyMedical City McKinney
You should reapply sunscreen every one to two hours if you’re going to be out in the sun all day. Yo...
More Answers

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.