The Ultimate Guide to Sun Protection Shirts
by Nick Hammond on Apr 06, 2022
Sun protection shirts are an indispensable part of safe sun exposure. They provide coverage and protection from UV rays for areas that often get intense sun exposure like the shoulders, back, chest, and torso. This comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know about understanding sun protective shirts and choosing the best ones.
What Are Sun Protection Shirts and How Do They Block UV Rays?
Sun protection shirts are specially engineered garments designed to prevent UV radiation from reaching your skin. They are constructed from fabrics treated with UV blocking properties in various ways:
- Tightly woven textures prevent UV light from penetrating the fabric.
- Natural fibers like cotton and linen have innate UV absorption abilities.
- Synthetic fibers like polyester and nylon are blended with UV absorbing chemicals.
- Fabrics are infused with UV blocking dyes, nanoparticles like zinc oxide, and UV absorbing coatings.
- Darker colored fabrics inherently absorb more UV rays through dye pigments.
These UV blocking mechanisms give the fabrics an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) rating that indicates how much UV radiation is blocked from passing through. Most quality sun protective shirts have UPF ratings between 30 and 50+, which means they can block 96% to 98% of harmful UV rays.
In addition to UV blocking fabric, sun protection shirts incorporate design elements to provide maximum skin coverage:
- Full length sleeves to protect the arms and elbows.
- Thumb loops, cuffs or fitted sleeves to minimize exposed wrist areas.
- A collar that shields the frequently exposed neck region.
- A full placket or zippered front closure for adjustable coverage.
- Loose and breathable material that keeps the fabric away from the skin.
- Vents and mesh panels to improve air circulation and cooling.
Benefits of Wearing Appropriate Sun Protective Shirts
Donning the proper sun protective clothing like shirts, hats and sunglasses has numerous advantages over relying solely on sunscreen:
- Provides lasting UV protection without the need to continually reapply sunscreen.
- Prevents painful sunburns and blisters on the chest, shoulders, torso and arms.
- Reduces the risk of developing various skin cancers from cumulative sun exposure.
- Ideal for all day outdoor activities like boating, hiking, fishing, golf etc.
- Protects sensitive facial skin from reflected UV rays bouncing off surfaces.
- Allows you to cover more surface area including hard-to-reach spots.
- Continues protecting even when wet from sweating, swimming or getting caught in the rain.
- Wicks moisture away from skin and dries quickly to keep you cool.
- Blocks radiation reflecting off water, sand, concrete and other surfaces.
- Provides an added barrier against dust, debris, insects and scratches.
- Saves you money in the long run compared to constantly buying sunscreen.
- Prevents sun damage that accelerates skin aging and wrinkles.
Choosing the Most Protective Sun Shirts – Key Features to Look For
Here are the most important criteria to evaluate when selecting high quality sun protective shirts:
Type of UV Blocking Fabric and UPF Rating
- Lightweight, breathable fabrics like polyester, nylon blends that won't overheat.
- UPF rating of 30+ to 50+ to block 96% to 98% of UV radiation.
- Darker dyed fabrics using colors like black, navy, dark green and red that absorb light.
- Moisture-wicking material to keep you cool and dry.
- Tightly woven, smooth texture without holes for maximum UV blocking.
Design Elements Providing Ample Body Coverage
- Long sleeves covering upper arms and elbows.
- Thumb loops and fitted cuffs to protect wrists.
- Collars to shield the neck area.
- Full front zip or button placket for adjustable ventilation.
- Relaxed fit to allow space between shirt and skin.
- Mesh vents to improve breathability.
Convenience Features and Matching Accessories
- Zipper front for easy on and off.
- Chest pockets to hold small essentials.
- Attached hood for protecting head and face.
- Cinch cords to adjust hood tightness.
- Matching UPF pants and hats for full protection.
- Swimwear styles with UV protection for water activities.
Caring for and Extending the Life of Sun Protective Shirts
Follow these tips to enhance the lifespan and effectiveness of your sun protective shirts:
- Wash in cold water and avoid bleach to preserve UV blocking properties.
- Line dry in shade or tumble dry on low to prevent heat damage.
- Avoid contact with creams, oils and lotions that can reduce UPF over time.
- Periodically check for thinning fabric, holes, and loose stitches.
- Hand wash inside out in cold water with a gentle detergent.
- Spot treat stains to avoid excessive rubbing and abrasion.
- Store folded or hung away from direct sunlight when not in use.
- Repair any tears, holes or damage immediately for safety.
Investing in premium quality sun protective shirts made with advanced UV blocking fabrics and design features can provide excellent protection during prolonged sun exposure. Follow this comprehensive guide to choose shirts tailored to your specific needs, style and activities. With proper care and maintenance, quality sun shirts will protect you outdoors for many seasons.