Last Updated on
By Katy Caric
I have to admit, the first time I heard about ethical sun protective clothing, I was a bit skeptical. I mean, what did they do? Smear sunscreen all over a T-shirt and market it is as SPF 30 or whatever? But after doing some research, I’ve become a believer.
Sun-protective clothing first emerged in Australia back in the 90s. The process goes something like this: garments go through a rigorous process that tests the durability, washability and effectiveness of the product, and at the end of this, the clothes are assigned a UPF factor.
UPF, unlike SPF, measures protection against both UVA and UVB rays, meaning that sun protective clothing may be even more effective at preventing damage from the sun’s rays than some sunscreens, which only measure protection from UVA rays.
So, how do these garments do it? Well, not only are they made from a tighter fabric weave, but as you may have guessed, they are also treated with sunscreen chemicals that absorb the sun’s UV rays.
So what’s wrong with regular clothes? Well, it depends. While it is true that tightly woven, dark clothes can provide some protection from the sun, it is not clear how much. For example, a white T-shirt may have a UPF of only 5, which means that it lets in 1/5 (or 20 percent) of all UV radiation through to your skin. Sun-protective clothing that has a UPF of 50, though, and only lets in 1/50 or 2 percent of the sun’s UV rays, offers much more protection. So it might be beneficial to have some clothes that have been treated with sunscreen.
Sun protective clothing is great for anyone who’s out in the sun a lot or who lives in a very sunny environment; kids who hate wearing sunscreen, or those who are sensitive to the ingredients of sun creams.
Remember, though – sun protective clothing doesn’t cover every part of your body, so to be super careful, you’ll still need to apply an organic sunscreen to your exposed bits.
5 Ethical Sun Protective Clothing Brands To Try
1. Nicole Alex
This sustainable label creates luxe basics that work harder than the average apparel. All of Nicole Alex’s bamboo based garments are proudly designed and made in Los Angeles using ethically-sourced, eco-friendly fabric that protects your skin from the sun’s rays. They’ve partnered with a family-owned and operated manufacturing facility, and their fabrics have undergone extensive testing to ensure the manufacturing process is free of harmful substances, including several known allergy-inducing and irritating chemicals.
Super wearable, no matter what your size or skin tone, Luminora’s collections feature resort friendly kaftans, jumpsuits, and breezy dresses, all made for the conscious sun lover. Each piece is made using innovative Luminology Technology™ that has an all natural SPF 50+ and blocks 98% of the sun’s rays through the fabric. Every thread is infused with a dermatologist tested, 100% natural plant-based oil that’s not only sun protective, but also has antimicrobial properties.
The beloved sustainable outdoor clothing company makes highly practical UPF clothing. It’s the kind of stuff you can climb in, swim in, or even ski in – they’ve got something for just about anything you’d do outdoors. Their UPF ratings range from 25 to 50, and of course, everything is super ethically made with Fairtrade principles.
You might think a hat would protect you from the sun, no matter what, right? Wrong! First of all, many believe a baseball-type cap offers some protection – it does, but only basically over your nose, and that’s it. Even if you go for a wide-brimmed straw hat that covers your entire head, you may not be getting a strong UPF because the weave of the straw is too loose. Luckily, Lanzom makes hats from a super tight weave that provides the equivalent of over an SPF of 50. Perfect for saving your complexion from the devastation of the sun’s rays!
Made locally in Minnesota, Coolibar was the first clothing company to receive the Skin Cancer Foundation’s Seal of Recommendation. And no wonder! Their UPF 50+ products and fabrics are designed to block 98% of UV rays and are also guaranteed to last a lifetime. They use a variety of materials that are lightweight, soft, breathable, stretch, moisture-wicking, fast drying, cooling, water repellant, anti-microbial – all designed for movement, fitness and fun. The brand creates all kinds of clothing for every outdoor need, from swimming and gardening to playing sports or just chilling.
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