12 Cute Pieces of Sun-protective Clothing to Wear This Summer
It may not be the most fun part of packing for vacation, but your sun protection strategy is imperative to consider because the facts are scary. In the United States alone, there has been a 53 percent increase in melanoma cases for the past decade and "about 90 percent of non-melanoma skin cancers are associated with exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun," according to the Skin Cancer Foundation (SCF).
And while most people think of sunscreen as the best defense against the sun's harmful rays, institutions like the SCF and the Center for Disease Control say the first line of defense against UV radiation is actually your clothing. And unfortunately, a regular cotton T-shirt won't really do much for you.
Related: More must-haves for the beach
In fact, it's estimated that your go-to white tee has an SPF rating lower than 15 and if that tee gets wet, then its rating plummets even further. That's why your best bet to protect your skin is to invest in UPF clothing. While SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor and measures how long your sunscreen will protect you from ultraviolet rays, UPF stands for Ultraviolet Protection Factor and indicates how much of the sun's UV rays are absorbed by the fabric instead of your skin. For example, if a piece of clothing is rated UPF 50, only two percent of the sun's rays can make it through.
For that reason, UPF sunwear is made from tightly woven fabrics and is usually treated with some sort of chemical UV absorber, making them even more effective. And fortunately, a lot of brands, such as Lands' End, have now launched special UPF lines that include a large range of items that go way beyond rash guards and swimwear.
Still not convinced? The benefits of sun-protective clothes aren't just for your health but for that of the environment, as well. If you get in the habit of wearing sun-protective clothing on the beach, you will end up using a lot less sunscreen, which is one of the main culprits of ocean pollution and coral reef damage.
Here we rounded up 12 cute pieces, all of which have been rated UPF 30 or above for maximum sun protection.
J.Crew Solid Long-sleeve Rash Guard
This classic rash guard offers maximum coverage, has a close fit, and is perfect to wear while practicing your favorite water sport. Plus, it has UPF 50 sun protection.
To buy: jcrew.com, $45 (originally $75)
Uniqlo Pocketable UV Parka
This lightweight zip-up with UPF 40 protection is the perfect alternative to slathering on sunscreen when you're just going to be outside for a short while. It packs down into a tiny pouch and comes in 10 pretty colors. Plus, it even has a water-repellent coating, so it can serve as your rain jacket, too.
To buy: uniqlo.com, $30 (originally $40)
Athleta Brooklyn Ankle Pant UPF 50+
Your go-to summer pant is here and it's oh so stylish (and functional). The mid-rise silhouette is complemented by a flattering fitted cut. But the best thing about it is that it's wrinkle-resistant, and it's made from recycled polyester.
To buy: athleta.com, from $89
UV Skinz UPF 50+ Women's Water Jacket
Wear this cool jacket over your bathing suit when you're working out in the water. The fabric is chlorine- and salt water-resistant and dries really fast. The sleeves have thumb holes for extra coverage and protection.
To buy: amazon.com, from $63
Prana Becksa 7/8 Legging
Instead getting your sweat on indoors, take advantage of the beautiful weather and go for a run outside. These leggings are fitted through the hip and the thigh and offer exceptional stretch and moisture-wicking qualities. They even have a hidden pocket for your phone and keys.
To buy: prana.com, $89
Columbia Freezer Maxi Dress UPF 50
Stay cool as a cucumber this summer thanks to Columbia's Zero performance fabric, which lowers skin temperature, wicks away moisture, and blocks harmful UV rays. This tank dress has an empire waist for maximum comfort and knee-high side slits.
To buy: columbia.com, $45 (originally $60)
The North Face Class V Shorts UPF 50+
A pair of cute shorts is a lifesaver on a scorching hot summer day and this year, we're relying on this pair by The North Face. We also intend to wear it in the pool since it's made from quick-drying fabric.
To buy: zappos.com, $40
Land's End Crew Neck Long Sleeve Rash Guard UPF 50
While this is officially a cover-up, the fabric is so soft and the design so cool that you'll want to wear it on and off the beach.
To buy: landsend.com, from $25 (originally $50)
Coolibar UPF 50+ Ruche Pants
These relaxed-fit cropped pants are soft on the skin, lightweight, and breathable, making them perfect for summer days. Plus, with a UPF 50+ rating, they'll protect you from the sun while you're outside.
To buy: amazon.com, $79
Coolibar UPF 50+ Beach Shawl
When you want to enjoy the warmth of the sun without exposing your skin to the harsh rays, opt for this beach shawl. It's lightweight and breezy, and has a UPF 50+ rating for impressive UV protection.
To buy: amazon.com, $34
Libin Full Zip UPF 50+ Sun Protection Hoodie
This sleek hooded jacket is soft, breathable, and quick-drying so it's perfect for both travel and athletic activities. It's made with a blend of polyester and spandex that has UPF 50+ UV protection, so you can protect your skin from the sun while outdoors.
To buy: amazon.com, from $22
Willit UPF 50+ Cover-up Dress
If you'll be at the beach or pool this summer, this long-sleeve, hooded cover-up is a must-have. The material is stretchy, moisture-wicking, quick-drying, and it will block 98 percent of UV rays.
To buy: amazon.com, $30
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