In the past, sun-protective clothing hasn't always been the most stylish. Fortunately, there are now many trendy UPF clothing options to help you safely have fun in the sun, all while staying on-trend.
If you're looking for an extra layer of sun protection to pair with your usual sunscreen, we asked experts for their advice on what to look for when shopping for UPF clothing. And to help you stay safe and stylish, style-expert Olivia Perez joined the 3rd hour of TODAY to show you how to style UPF clothing and share her favorite pieces, which she calls "wearable sunscreen."
From everyday looks to options for a pool party, keep reading to check out all of Perez's UPF-style tips. And below we have everything you need to know about UPF clothing from board-certified dermatologists, plus their favorite brands to wear.
UPF clothing seen on TODAY
For a sun-safe everyday look, Perez says to try swapping out your jeans for these flowy, UPF wide-leg pants. According to the brand, these pants are made with 100% Tencel, which will feel just like cotton and the UPF fabric will block up to 98 percent of the sun's rays.
Perez pairs the breezy pants with this UPF 50 racerback shirt. It's made of a stretchy polyester, spandex and nylon blend, says the brand. You can wear it casually, or pair it under a blazer for work, too.
If you're looking for a lightweight pullover top for extra coverage or to keep warm from the breeze, Perez loves this UPF 50 Lilly Pulitzer option. It comes in a solid navy blue or the brand's iconic vibrant colors.
Perez says you can wear this dress while traveling and not have to worry about getting sunburnt. Not only will this protect your skin, but Perez loves that the loose and breathable dress fabric won't cause further skin irritation if you already have sunburned skin.
To keep the harmful rays off your face, Perez suggests topping the dress off with this super chic and full-coverage UPF hat. It's even designed to be packable, so you can easily roll it up in your tote bag or carry-on.
To complete the look, you don't want to forget about a pair of trendy glasses. According to Warby Parker, this pick features scratch-resistant lenses that will block 100 percent of UV rays. You can even choose to buy prescription lenses at an additional cost.
If you have little ones, keeping their skin safe from harmful rays can be tough, says Perez. She loves this UPF 50 rash guard top for Saturday soccer games or outdoor water activities. It comes in a variety of color combos, too.
According to the brand, these UPF 50 swim shorts feature quick-drying material which makes them perfect for anything from pool to playtime. And right now you can score an extra 50% off select sale colors with code SHOPEARLY.
While this two-piece swimsuit is perfect for sunny beach days, the top is also cute enough to wear with a skirt for daily activities, says Perez. According to the brand, it features quick-drying fabric and UPF 50 sun protection.
As an alternative to a casual tee, Perez says she loves a button-up for summer and this option can go from outdoor activities to date night. Coming in nine different shades, the brand says the protective fabric is moisture-wicking and odor-resistant to keep you cool and smelling good in the summer heat.
Perez suggests pairing the button-up with these UPF 40 pants, which are durable enough to wear while hiking or doing other outdoor activities, says the brand. Plus, the brand adds that they're made with spandex, so you can expect them to have a comfortable stretch.
If you have a pool party booked or want to look chic on a tropical vacation, Perez says this look will have you feeling polished and protected. She says she loves a button-down for summer since it can be worn so many ways; you can wear it over a bathing suit or tuck it into a high-waisted skirt. And this Coolibar option features UPF 50 fabric.
Perez pairs the button-down with this ruffle wrap skirt, which can also be worn alone as a swimsuit coverup skirt. The brand says it features UPF 50 protection and made of stretchy nylon and spandex.
What is UPF Clothing?
UPF stands for Ultraviolet Protection Factor, and it's essentially the clothing version of SPF.
“A UPF rating is given to fabrics that protect you from the sun and indicates what fraction of the sun’s ultraviolet rays can penetrate a piece of fabric,” said Matthew Mahlberg, a Colorado-based dermatologist and spokesperson for The Skin Cancer Foundation. “A UPF rating is based on the construction, weight and color of the fabric in question.”
When using clothing as a form of sun protection, the fabric must be durable and tightly-woven in order to be effective.
“The tightness of the fabric decreases spaces between the fibers that UV rays can pass through,” said New York-based dermatologist Hadley King. "Different materials are better at deflecting UV rays, such as polyester and nylon, because of their molecular structure.”
If you’re not great about wearing sunscreen, sun-protective clothing may be the best way for you to shield your skin. As long as the fabric covers your skin, you should be protected all day long, unlike sunscreen which requires regular reapplication.
Why can't I use my regular clothing?
According to experts, typical clothes are not tightly-woven enough to provide necessary protection from the sun without the use of sunblock.
“A plain white T-shirt only has a UPF of about seven. When that T-shirt gets wet, it provides a UPF of only three,” Mahlberg explained. “It’s also important to consider how much skin you’re covering. Basically, the more skin you cover, the better.”
If you're looking to protect yourself from skin cancer, the Skin Cancer Foundation recommends looking for clothing with a UPF of at least 30.
“A UPF of 30 to 49 offers very good protection, while UPF 50+ is excellent,” Mahlberg said.
Dermatologist-approved UPF clothing
While there are now dozens of brands that specialize in UPF clothing, the below list includes six different brands recommended by professionals, with picks that all offer UPF 50+ protection.
"Coolibar specializes in UPF clothing and has a mission to promote an outdoor healthy lifestyle, safely," said King. "They have been innovators in the UPF clothing area for more than 20 years."
The brand has won over many experts thanks to its careful blend of fabrics and minerals.
"They use UV-blocking minerals such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, which are woven into the fabric. These are the same minerals found in sunscreens that protect against both UVA and UVB and are safe," said Dr. Michelle Henry, clinical instructor of dermatology at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City.
Better yet, the brand offers a wide range of styles for the whole family.
This Coolibar dress is technically a cover-up, but you could easily wear it around town or to lunch! Plus, its machine-washable and comes in over 18 different colors.
This cardigan is great for both breezy summer days and early fall afternoons. It’s available in a variety of different colors, but we love this crisp white style for the summer.
For a chic and loose-fitted pant option, consider this bohemian high-waisted design. They come in both white and black and would look great paired with a simple UPF T-shirt.
This cotton blend long-sleeve T-shirt is meant to block 98% of UV radiation. It’s super soft against the skin and available in almost 20 different colors.
This swim cover-up for girls is breathable, quick-drying and chlorine-resistant, making it perfect for your daughter to wear all summer long.
"UV Skinz specializes in UPF 50+ clothing for men, women, boys, girls and babies," said King. "Their fabrics are third party clinically tested to block 98% of UVA and UVB rays and they offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee."
These floral printed lounge pants would work great over a bathing suit or with your favorite shirt. They're designed to be lightweight, breathable and stretchy.
For a sun-friendly swim shirt, consider this floral design from UV Skinz. Whether you like to surf or simply want a little extra protection during a beach day with the kids, this swim shirt fits the bill.
This men's long-sleeve T-shirt is another great option for the man who is looking for a UPF 50+ shirt for everyday use.
Your baby boy will be protected from head to toe in this body swimsuit — and he'll look adorable too! It comes in a variety of cute patterns, including an octopus design and an artsy submarine style.
Marino loves that Solbari features plenty of styles and colors, making it easily wearable for all.
"Solbari offers a wide variety of UPF clothing for women, men, children and babies, and all of their items are made of UPF 50+ fabric," said Marino. "In addition to swimwear and sportswear, their range includes casual and workwear, making their offerings more than just outdoor and activewear."
You can't go wrong with a polo shirt with UPF 50+. It's a staple that he'll wear all summer long on the golf course, family gatherings or even the beach.
This long-sleeve T-shirt is another great staple piece that will go with a bunch of different bottoms. It comes in 12 different colors, but we love the navy blue for its simplicity.
“Lilly Pulitzer is known for its bright colors and flattering summer designs but they also offer plenty of UPF approved clothing including workout leggings, skorts, dresses and more," said Henry.
"I really enjoy their UPF collection because they have the highest UPF rating of 50 and the fabric is antimicrobial to help reduce odor while sweating."
You can wear this vibrant polo top with your favorite tennis skirt while playing on the courts, or pair it with some gym shorts to wear around the house. Either way, you'll be protected in style.
If all you wear is athleisure clothing these days, you won't be able to resist these fun weekender midi leggings. You can wear them during your next workout or around the house. They've earned an impressive 4.7-rating from Lilly Pulitzer customers.
While L.L. Bean is known for its stylish and casual activewear, the brand also has a good amount of UPF clothing for all genders and ages.
"I like their UPF clothing collection because of the versatility and wide variety of styles for men and women," Henry said. "Their clothing is also Bluesign approved to ensure responsible and sustainable manufacturing."
These casual board shorts are great for any water activity or even a day at the beach. They're made of a premium Italian-blend material that's breathable, quick-drying and abrasion-resistant.
For the man who loves to hike, consider these UPF 50+ and water-resistant pants from L.L. Bean. They're lightweight, breathable and made of a durable material that will stand up to every rock-scrambling, bush-whacking trail mile ahead.
UV Protectant Clothing Treatment
Sun Guard is another great alternative when it comes to protecting your skin from the sun. "It's a powder that you add to a detergent that coats clothes with sunscreen for up to 20 washes," said King. "It includes Tinosorb FD, a chemical sunscreen that adheres to fabric and absorbs UV rays before they can reach your skin."
While an untreated white T-shirt only offers sun protection equivalent to about an UPF 7, washing it with Sun Guard gives it UPF 30.
"This will provide some additive protection but I would not rely on it too heavily. You still have to use sunscreen!" said New Jersey-based dermatologist Shari Sperling.