With the hottest months of the year approaching, sun protection is top of mind for many travelers. And while sunscreen is a given, one of the most convenient, if lesser-utilized, ways to keep your skin healthy is by packing clothes that have built-in UPF.
UPF measures the amount of UV radiation that can penetrate fabric and reach your skin. For example, a UPF 50 fabric blocks 98 percent of the sun’s rays, reducing exposure risk significantly, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.
“Wearing UPF clothing and SPF protects against the development of skin cancer and reduces the risk of photoaging, which can present as sun spots, fine lines, and wrinkles,” dermatologist Dr. Joanne Simpson, MD, MPH says.
Simpson uses the example of a basic white T-shirt, which, even if not marked, has a UPF of approximately seven. If the shirt gets wet, the UPF goes down to three. When it comes to regular, non UPF-specified clothing, Simpson’s recommends choosing darker colors and tightly woven fabrics. But for even more protection, look for clothing with a UPF rating above 30 (50 is the highest and most protective).
UPF clothing is especially important for those who work outdoors, have a sensitivity to certain sunscreen ingredients, or are active around water, Simpson says, making it a great packing list addition for your next boating adventure, waterfall hike, or trip to the beach. Since children tend to wiggle during sunscreen application, UPF clothing from brands like Reima can be especially helpful, too.
Thankfully, UPF clothing seems to get easier to find with each summer season as more brands are understanding the need and desire for sun protection. Below, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite pieces of UPF clothing, keeping style, comfort, and versatility in mind when choosing these travel-friendly picks.