Can Clothes Protect From Sun UV Dangers?
The straight forward answer is YES clothes can protect you from sun UV, but only partially. Raising this question shows you are aware that the sun is harmful, and already know that long exposure to sunlight can result in long term skin damage.
Most of us pick our clothes because we like how they look, but do not think about how protective they are (or aren’t) when it comes to UV radiation.
The sunlight is a wide spectrum of rays, some very short and other long. The short rays are called UVB, these are the rays which make us get tanned and skin burnt. The short rays can be easily blocked and screened.
You are probably familiar with the SPF creams, they can filter UVB, and if you apply them in a correct manner, you can avoid sun burns when exposed to sun. These short UVB rays can not penetrate clothes. If you wear a short sleeve shirt and be few hours outside on a sunny summer day, your arms and neck may get dark, but your shoulders will stay untanned.
So do clothes protect you from UVB sun damage? Yes they do.
Do Clothes Protect From UVA Dangers?
But the sun sends not only short UV rays, it sends also long UV rays which are present aligned with sunlight , these are the UVA rays. These UV rays have a longer wavelength and can penetrate all sorts of fabrics and materials. They can penetrate clouds and glass.
UVA does not cause sun burns or tanning, so people are not even aware they are exposed to it. The long UV rays can penetrate the skin layers and reach to the lower dermis of the skin, there the long term side effects and the danger of UV is more critic.
Most cotton T shirts do not filter too much of the UVA radiation.
So throwing any shirt when going outside, means having a false sense of protection. There will be no sun burns, but plenty of UVA and the long term dangers adding up, in those hours of exposure.
Which Clothes Can Protect From UVA Radiation
Sports apparel companies were the first to design and manufacture fabrics which are able to block UVA. The technologies vary, some add UV blocking dye, others use new hi-tech seamless fabrics, and usually a combination of both.
But how they do it, is less important than the outcome, these shirts and pants can filter up to 98% of all incoming radiation. The Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) rating of the highest blocking level is UPF 50. You may see clothes that have UPF 30 or 40, they will be blocking approx 90% of the radiation.
Today the (UPF) Ultraviolet Protection Factor clothes are casual clothes, some come even in elegant cut. No one would guess they are so advanced. Wearing UPF shirts, tops, pants, swimwear and beach wraps is very very smart.
There are many brands and styles, it may be wise to buy from the bigger more known brands rather than unknown brands. Creating UV protective apparel requires expertise.
UPF clothes usually cost similar to regular clothes, and even if they cost more it is a small price to decrease the chances for sun related skin diseases.
So the correct answer to the question: Do clothes protect from UV dangers? is.. it depends on which clothes you are wearing.
But wearing the right clothes is not a magic solution to lower the risks from UV radiation. Keep clear from the sun, wear a hat, sunglasses, apply sun filtering creams on exposed skin, be in the shade when ever you can.