Health

The Best UPF Clothing So You Don't Burn to a Crisp in the Sun

We all know the importance of wearing sunscreen every day to protect ourselves from skin cancer, sunburns, dark spots, and hyperpigmentation. But there’s another way you can shield yourself that might not be on your radar: by wearing UPF (or sun-protective) clothing—i.e., garments that block harmful UV rays. While you definitely still need to use sunscreen (especially on any areas that won’t be covered), UPF clothes can really come in handy as an added layer of protection when you’re lounging outside, hanging at the beach, and hiking. They are also a great option if you’re playing sports or running a race—basically, any scenario in which you might sweat your SPF off quickly or struggle to fit in that additional application. To help you find the best UPF clothing, we combed through highly-rated and staffer-tested options from our favorite athletic wear brands. This list features our top picks for all kinds of activities.

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Amazon

This is a great place to grab basic tees and long sleeves (as well as hiking pants and hats) made with UPF fabric. One SELF editor highly recommends picking up the Helly-Hansen hoodie with a UPF 50+ rating: “It’s extremely lightweight and the fabric hangs pleasantly around my body rather than sticking or clinging to it even when I get sweaty. The hood also doesn’t make my hair super staticky. I’ve worn this shirt to hike fourteeners in Colorado and trek through Great Sand Dunes National Park, and it’s saved me from being a hot, damp, sunburned mess at high elevations.”

Helly-Hansen

Verglas Shade Hoodie

Vapor Apparel

UPF 50+ UV Sun Protection Long Sleeve

REI

REI makes one SELF editor’s favorite hiking shorts—and they happen to have a UPF 50+ rating. “I love these shorts so much I had to buy a second pair (and will likely snag a third for this summer),” she says of the Trailmade Shorts. “They’re long enough that I don’t have to worry about them bunching up, the pockets are super roomy, and the adjustable waist ensures a great fit. They’re also really lightweight—perfect for hot, humid days.” You can also grab convertible pants that’ll keep you comfy through weather changes or another SELF editor’s favorite stretchy hoodie.

REI Co-op

Trailmade Shorts

REI Co-op

Sahara Convertible Pants

REI Co-op

REI Co-op Sahara Shade Hoodie

Beyond Yoga

Spacedye High-Waisted Practice Pants

Carve Designs

Cruz Rashguard

Eddie Bauer

If you’re looking to get in on the sporty skirt trend, check out Eddie Bauer’s Departure Performance Skort, which has a UPF 50 rating, wicks sweat, and has subtle side zipper pockets to hold your keys or phone. If your leggings could use an upgrade, one SELF editor recommends the Guide Trex pair, which have a UPF 50+ rating: “I wore these on an uncharacteristically warm and humid fall day, during which I tramped all around the Chattanooga woods (and set a new personal best for bouldering outside). Not only did they move with me while hiking and climbing, they felt breathable and light—even after I was fully sweating.”

Eddie Bauer

Departure Performance Skort

Eddie Bauer

Guide Trex Leggings

Eddie Bauer

Coast and Climb Short-Sleeve T-Shirt Dress

Eddie Bauer

Movement Lux High-Rise 7/8-Length Leggings

Eddie Bauer

Departure Ankle Pants

Vuori

Vuori excels when it comes to making cute UPF clothing that doubles as loungewear and great workout apparel. One standout: the Pose Plyo Tank, which looks like a casual, ribbed top you could wear with jeans, but wicks sweat, has a built-in shelf bra that gives medium support, and has a UPF 30+ rating.

Solbari

All of Solbari’s clothes are sun-protective, so you can shop without double-checking items for the UPF rating—and the brand offers everything from swimwear and hats to dresses and leggings. We recommend paying special attention to the accessories, though, since the brand makes things we haven’t seen at other retailers, like arm sleeves you can wear with t-shirts and palmless gloves to protect the backs of your hands—an often overlooked spot.

Solbari

Arm Sleeves UPF50+ Sensitive Collection

Solbari

Palmless Hand Cover UPF50+ Coolasun Breeze Collection

Solbari

Ultra Wide Cotton Linen Hat UPF50+

Solbari

Everlight Loose Fit Jacket UPF50+

Solbari

Solbari Long Sleeve Maxi Dress UPF50+ Sensitive Collection

Solbari

Base Layer UPF50+ Coolasun Breeze Collection

UPF stands for ultraviolet protection factor, and it’s an umbrella term for UVA and UVB protection. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, UPF is different from SPF (sun protection factor) in that UPF measures the amount of UV radiation that can go through a fabric, whereas SPF is based on the amount of time it takes for UV-exposed skin to burn.

What should you look for in sun-protective clothing?

When shopping for sun-safe gear, the Skin Cancer Foundation recommends looking for its seal of recommendation, which indicates that the item has a UPF rating of at least 30. UPF 30 through 49 offers very good protection, while UPF 50+ offers excellent protection, shielding skin from approximately 98 percent of the sun’s rays.

If you can’t put together an entire outfit of highly-rated UPF clothes, the foundation suggests picking items with these qualities in mind as an added shield (since all clothing offers some level of sun protection compared to bare skin):

  • Dark or bright colors, which absorb UV rays rather than allowing them to penetrate (if you hold a shirt up a light and you can see through it, that means it’s easy for the sun to get through too)
  • Densely woven fabrics made with denim, canvas, wool, or synthetic fibers
  • Loose-fitting, high-coverage silhouettes
  • Fabrics like unbleached cotton and high-tech activewear, which can absorb UV rays, and shiny/satiny synthetic fibers, which can reflect light

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