With the hottest months of the year approaching, sun protection is top of mind for many travelers. And while sunscreen is a given, one of the most convenient, if lesser-utilized, ways to keep your skin healthy is by packing clothes that have built-in UPF.
UPF measures the amount of UV radiation that can penetrate fabric and reach your skin. For example, a UPF 50 fabric blocks 98 percent of the sun’s rays, reducing exposure risk significantly, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.
“Wearing UPF clothing and SPF protects against the development of skin cancer and reduces the risk of photoaging, which can present as sun spots, fine lines, and wrinkles,” dermatologist Dr. Joanne Simpson, MD, MPH says.
Simpson uses the example of a basic white T-shirt, which, even if not marked, has a UPF of approximately seven. If the shirt gets wet, the UPF goes down to three. When it comes to regular, non UPF-specified clothing, Simpson’s recommends choosing darker colors and tightly woven fabrics. But for even more protection, look for clothing with a UPF rating above 30 (50 is the highest and most protective).
UPF clothing is especially important for those who work outdoors, have a sensitivity to certain sunscreen ingredients, or are active around water, Simpson says, making it a great packing list addition for your next boating adventure, waterfall hike, or trip to the beach. Since children tend to wiggle during sunscreen application, UPF clothing from brands like Reima can be especially helpful, too.
Thankfully, UPF clothing seems to get easier to find with each summer season as more brands are understanding the need and desire for sun protection. Below, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite pieces of UPF clothing, keeping style, comfort, and versatility in mind when choosing these travel-friendly picks.
Girlfriend Collective Marina Powell one shoulder one piece
Made from recycled materials like plastic bottles, fishing nets, and other fabric leftovers, Girlfriend Collective even nods to the environment in its 100 percent recyclable packaging. The company takes pride in its contribution to slow fashion as well as protecting your skin. We love that this suit can quickly become a top when worn under shorts or jeans (which means one less thing in your carry-on). Do consider sizing up on this one.
Waterlust Abalone Restoration sunsuit
Waterlust didn’t start as an apparel company. A group of marine science graduate students made a series of short films on the environment and the ocean in particular. To reach more people, they later launched an apparel line using recycled materials. Each print in the Waterlust line of swimwear, leggings, and accessories supports a different organization, from coral reef restoration to sea turtle research to billfish conservation. (Ten percent of each purchase is donated to the print’s correlating organization.) And the models? All real people who are somehow involved in or have a passion for marine life.
Mott50 Hudson swim trunk
This relaxed fit board short comes in a variety of vibrant prints, with a moderate seven-inch inseam. With soft 100 percent polyester material and pockets, the trunks bring comfort and functionality to your travels. Like Mott50’s entire product line (dresses, women’s swim, kids gear), this suit offers UPF 50 protection. For families who like to match, this is your chance to get the whole gang in avocado beachwear.
Coolibar Verdon packable jacket
There’s nothing quite like a packable jacket, especially one that takes fit into consideration; this one from Coolibar looks tailored and crisp even fresh out of the suitcase. The jacket “packs” into itself, creating a convenient portable bag. Other features we love: an internal front pocket for valuables, a roll-up hood, and its breathable recycled fabric.
Solbari fishing and hiking shirt
Solbari’s entire blog is dedicated to skin health, which should tell you something about the brand’s commitment to sun protection. Along with a beautiful line of men’s and women’s swimwear, Solbari offers lightweight clothing like this men’s activewear shirt, which is functional, breathable, and anti-odor.
UVSkinz hooded water jacket
UVSkinz was started when Rhonda Sparks lost her 32-year-old husband to skin cancer. With three kids left behind, sun safety awareness became a family mission. Every clothing item sold by UVSkinz has a UPF rating of 50 with plenty of options for infants, kids, and adults. This hooded jacket is a top-seller, keeping you shielded during the day and warm when the sun goes down (we love the zippered pockets for keeping your phone and passport safe and accessible).
UPF pants and shorts
Title Nine Slaycation 2.0 cropped pants
Title Nine gets its name from the act that made it illegal for public institutions to bar women from athletics. Fittingly, this women-owned company is committed to clothing that looks and feels good while keeping up with all the activities that come with traveling; along with durability and style, keeping skin healthy is among the brand’s core values. These pants in particular can take you from the airport to the trails and will dry in a jiffy, should you decide to take a quick dip or find yourself in a sudden rain shower.
Coolibar Petra wide leg pants
These breezy and beautiful pants come in a variety of colors and feel like cool silk (they’re actually made from the brand’s exclusive lightweight “Aire” polyester fabric). Even better, the brand partners with dermatologists and nonprofits around the world to help more people gain access to sun protection.
Coolibar Miller convertible pants
Coolibar’s entire collection of men’s, women’s, kids, and baby wear has a UPF rating of 50. These tech pants are durable, can withstand the elements, and the bottom zips off to convert to shorts with a nine-inch inseam. With ventilation and a variety of different pockets, you can see why these bottoms pass the test for even the most adventurous traveler.
UPF dresses and rompers
Lululemon high neck zippered romper
Sometimes when landing at the airport, you want to start traversing your new locale before even checking into your accommodations. Enter this Lululemon romper that comes with the comfort we desire when sitting for long periods of time and keeps your upper body shielded from the rays when you head outside after a flight or car ride. A drawcord waistband lets travelers adjust to their personal style and comfort.
Carve Designs Cody sun dress
This dual-purpose cover-up by Carve designs looks more like a nice dress than something to throw over a bathing suit. Drawstrings on the side allow for adjustable length and style. Beyond the UPF rating, the dress is environmentally friendly, made from recycled plastic bottles and post-consumer waste.
Solbari reversible ultra wide brim hat
Solbari truly offers a hat for every head. This reversible hat is ultra-packable and great for adventurers who may find themselves in the elements a bit longer than anticipated. Beyond just headwear, the brand offers sun protection by way of hand covers and arm sleeves, too.