After many years of battling with unpleasant sunscreens, I have finally come around to the notion that sun clothes (clothes that have built in SPF, or more technically, UPF) are much more convenient and more effective and protecting from UV damage. And most surprisingly, I am MUCH COOLER in the sun when I wear a long sleeve sun shirt! New technology has made sun protecting clothing the ultimate multi-taskers; protecting from UV rays, cooling down the skin, wicking away moisture, and ventilating at the same time.
I think it would have been tough if I was still a teenager, dealing with the peer pressure to sunbathe in an itty bitty bikini, to instead wear a full coverage sun shirt. But I should give our society more credit. More and more people are starting to realize that the sunbathing you do as a youngster to “look good,” or “have a base tan,” is passé. Pale is beautiful, and the very sunbathing done for aesthetic purposes has very ugly consequences even as short as 15 years later (think sun spots, wrinkles, blotchy skin).
Here are some benefits of UV clothing:
- You feel COOLER in the sun! Amazing, but true.
- You don’t need to reapply sunscreen! Who wants to reapply every two hours?
- You won’t miss any spots and have awkward geometric burns on your back.
- Prevention of skin cancer and skin aging.
So, here are my reviews and recommendations of some of the best sun protecting clothes that are cute and fashionable.
Coolibar – the company performs vigorous testing on all lots of clothing to ensure excellent UV protection. These were my first sun shirts.
Columbia – OmniShade and Omni-Freeze Zero – One of my personal favorites. The Omni-Freeze Zero technology cools down a person when exposed to sweat. We find it most commonly in their Performance Fishing Gear. Great for the beach or any hot day. My family knows that if it’s hot out, my hubby will only be wearing this shirt. It’s now a joke that he doesn’t own any other clothes.
UV Skinz – nice selection of outerwear for the family (nice kids selection), plus sun “sleeves” which are great for driving, gardening, golfing, etc. I just bought some of the sleeves for myself and my husband! Plus I LOVE their May Skin Cancer Awareness campaign – any purchase comes with a free baby sun shirt!
Lands’ End – I was surprised myself, but after seeing a tweet by Deborah Messing, I checked them out. They have surprisingly cute swim wear!
SwimZip – As seen on Shark Tank. This company makes it easy to find cute swimwear with zippers – we all know how hard it is to take off a wet bathing suit from a squirmy toddler! SwimZip makes it super easy.
Mott50 Sun Protective Fashion – Co-founder Anne Reilly wanted to capitalize on the more noticeable trend of young ladies covering up. Nice variety of casual and swim wear for women and kids.
BloxSun – a local Miami company, offering beautiful UPF scarfs to cover you up in any occasion. Check me out modeling my scarf at the Miami Open, where the sun can be unbearable. This beauty kept me cool! I also use their sun gloves while driving and gel manicure to keep my hands looking young.
SunSoaked – Australian beach outwear line. Designed to offer more fashionable, feminine, elegant sunwear.
Cover – Founded by the sister of a melanoma survivor and former investment banker, founder Lisa Moore offers luxury sun protective clothing that is runway worthy.
SanSoleil – makes golf, tennis, and other sports apparel out of Newport Beach, CA.
BloqUV – Excellent beach and sporting apparel. Great selections for golf, tennis, running, yoga, swim.
Any clothing with “Coldblack” – coldblack is a special dye added to clothing to reflect light and infrared heat. Used to keep men cool in dark suits, it also provides a UPF factor of 30 to its clothing. It can notably be found in Ermenegildo Zegna suits and in Under Armour golfing wear.
These retailers have earned the Skin Cancer Foundation’s Seal of Recommendation for sun protective clothing and hats.
- Boys Scouts of America
- Columbia Sportswear
- J. Crew
- Lands’ End
- O’Neill Wetsuits
- Specialized Bicycles
- Wollaroo Hats Company (I like their hats a lot)
- Whitworth Hats
I encourage you to pack (and wear) a sun shirt the next time you are going to be somewhere sunny. I think you will be pleasantly surprised how much you like it!
The Skin Cancer Foundation Journal, Vol XXXII, 2014. skincancer.org
Dr. Dosal is a practicing dermatologist at the Skin Associates of South Florida in Miami, FL. She is also on voluntary faculty at the University of Miami.