How UPF sun-protection clothing works and why redheads need it in their lives

In summer, there’s nothing us redheads want to do more than sit in a shady corner and just wait it out until it passes.

Alas, sometimes that’s just not practical. So what do we do? We brave our fear, slather on the sunscreen, go out in loose clothing, and shade hop all day long.

But did you know that this loose clothing probably isn’t enough coverage to protect you from the sun and its dangerous UV rays? In fact, standard t-shirts only count as being around SPF 5 or 6, and the thinner or lighter in colour, the less UV protection it has.

Short of accepting defeat and simply dunking yourself in sunscreen every hour, it’s a comfort to say that your clothing choices can help protect you better from the sun.

 

What is SPF/UPF clothing and how does it work?

The way that clothing can become SPF-ified (that’s a technical term) is all down to how it is made. There’s actually nothing chemical about it (although you can add some products to your washing machine to do this). It’s just that the fabric has been tightly woven so that no sunlight can shine through to your skin.

This type of clothing is actually known as UPF clothing, with UPF standing for Ultraviolet Protection Factor, but essentially doing the same as sunscreen.

UPF protective clothing is quite specialist, but some fabrics, like denim, are generally woven tight enough and are thick enough to already block UV rays. So basically, they’re UPF without even trying!

The downside to jeans, of course, is that they’re just too darned thick to wear in the summer heat. Instead, UPF clothing is designed to keep your body cool while also protecting against the sun. Like sunscreen, it is rated on a scale, so the higher the UPF rating, the stronger the protection against UV rays.

As ever, redheads should always look for a high-factor sunscreen, and the same goes for UPF clothing, so UPF 40-50 is optimal protection.

From swimwear to dresses, here are some of our top picks of UPF clothing and UPF brands to help you (and your families) keep cool and protected this summer.

Note: some items can seem expensive, but think of the money you’ll save on sunscreen!

 

For adults

Lilly Pulitzer: $118

 

Patagonia: $79

 

Solbari: £95

 

Musto: £35

 

For little redheads

J.Crew: £55

 

Noma Swimwear: £43

 

Coolibar: $32

 

J.Crew: £54

 

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