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Save your skin: 11 best UPF clothing to protect you from the sun's harmful UV rays

Climate change is raising temperatures the world over. In Singapore, we recorded our hottest day in four decades in May this year when the mercury reached a sweltering 37 degrees Celsius. With things looking hotter and sweatier, it’s time we bump up our efforts to shield our skin from the harmful effects of the sun’s rays.

Aside from slathering on sunscreen and donning sunglasses, there is a variety of sun-protective clothing with UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) that have been specially designed to effectively protect against ultraviolet radiation.

ULTRAVIOLET PROTECTION FACTOR (UPF) EXPLAINED

But what’s the difference between UPF and SPF? “UPF and SPF are measures of different forms of sun protection. UPF measures the effectiveness of fabric, whereas SPF measures the effectiveness of sunscreen in blocking UV radiation,” defined Dr Ho.

Many of us would already be familiar with Sun Protection Factor (SPF) and know that it is a measurement of how well a sunscreen is able to protect your skin from UV rays.

However, Dr Ho clarified, “It is not true that the higher the SPF number, the better the protection. For example, people may think SPF100 gives double the protection compared to SPF50. In fact, SPF50 sunscreen blocks 98 per cent of UVB rays and SPF100 sunscreen blocks 99 per cent of UVB rays, so the increase in sun protection is very little,” she said, adding, “in general, sunscreen SPF50 offers adequate and good protection if applied in good amounts, and re-applied every two hours.” 

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THE BENEFITS OF WEARING UPF CLOTHING

What is UPF clothing made of? Dr Ho described it to be generally darker in colour, made from synthetic materials such as polyester and high tech-fibre, and has a denser and tighter weave. These materials work to absorb UV rays better than lighter fabrics that are made of natural fibre.

“Most UPF clothing is designed to give sun protection based on the type, colour and weave of the fabric used. In addition, some of these clothing may be pre-treated with UV inhibiting chemicals during manufacture to enhance their effectiveness,” explained Dr Ho.

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As with regular clothes, these specially developed clothing will experience wear and tear over time, which will then cause it to lose its effectiveness. “Repeated washing (over 40 washes) can also gradually break down chemically treated UPF fabrics. Replacing worn UPF clothing every 12-24 months (depending on usage) will usually ensure continual good sun protection,” she added. 

So even if you’re not always sweating it out in the sun, having a few pieces of UPF clothing in your wardrobe will come in handy to brave the increasingly unrelenting sun, especially in our climate where it’s either hot or hotter.

Here are some of the best UPF clothing you can turn to for protection.

Lululemon Waterside Half-Zip UV Protection Paddle Top, S$138

An easy 1/4-zip top that features sweat-wicking tech to keep you comfortable and dry, along with UV protection to shield your skin from harmful rays.

Available at Nike.

The North Face Women 78 UPF Wind Jacket, S$156

From the Japanese retailer’s collection of UV protection clothing, this multifunctional parka keeps you dry on rainy days and protects you from the sun when it’s hot out.

Available at Uniqlo.

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Patagonia Women’s RO Top UPF50+, S$63

Whether you’re hitting the waves or relaxing at the beach, stay protected with this rashguard that offers effective UV protection.

Available at Rip Curl.

Roxy Another Clock UPF50 Technical Leggings, S$89.90

Whether it’s the boardroom you’re dressing for or a casual outing, this shirt will have you looking stylish while keeping you shielded from the sun.

Available at G2000.

Bluestone Sunshields Sun Visor, S$116

This wide brim sun hat offers maximum coverage, protecting your face, ears and neck while keeping you cool in the heat.

Available at Solbari.

Decathlon Women’s T-Shirt Long Sleeve UV Protection Surf Top 500 White/Print, S$16.90

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