The Ultimate Guide to UPF Clothing: How to Choose and Use Sun Protection Clothing

Sun protection is essential for everyone, regardless of age or gender. One effective way to protect your skin from the harmful effects of the sun is by wearing clothing with Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF). UPF clothing is specially designed to block harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays, providing an additional layer of defense against skin cancer, premature aging, and other sun-related skin damage.

What is UPF?

UPF stands for Ultraviolet Protection Factor. It indicates how much UV radiation a fabric allows to reach your skin. For example, a UPF rating of 50 means that only 1/50th of the sun’s UV rays can penetrate the fabric, blocking 98% of UV radiation. UPF ratings range from 15 to 50+, with higher numbers offering greater protection.

Understanding UPF Ratings

UPF 15-20 provides good protection, UPF 25-35 offers very good protection, and UPF 40-50+ provides excellent protection. Choosing a higher UPF rating ensures better protection from harmful UV rays.

Why UPF Clothing is Essential

Everyone, regardless of age or skin type, can benefit from wearing UPF clothing. Sun exposure is the leading cause of skin cancer and can also lead to premature aging, sunburn, and other skin damage. Investing in UPF clothing helps mitigate these risks, allowing you to enjoy outdoor activities with peace of mind.

Benefits of UPF Clothing

UPF clothing not only protects against skin cancer but also helps prevent premature aging and sunburn. For example, many hikers and outdoor enthusiasts have significantly reduced their sunburn incidents by wearing UPF clothing.

Choosing the Right UPF Clothing

When selecting UPF clothing, consider the following checklist:

  • Check the UPF rating on the label
  • Opt for tightly woven fabrics
  • Consider fabric weight and color
  • Ensure comfort and fit for extended wear
  • Look for moisture-wicking and breathable properties

Testing UPF Clothing: A Step-by-Step Guide

Understanding Labels and Certifications

When purchasing UPF clothing, always check the label for the UPF rating. Reputable brands will have their UPF ratings certified by independent labs. These certifications ensure that the garment has been tested rigorously and meets the stated UPF rating. JOJU independently tests all of our products, which have a 50+ UPF rating. 

Examining Fabric Quality

The effectiveness of UPF clothing largely depends on the quality and type of fabric used. Here’s what to look for:

  • Fiber Type: Certain fibers, like polyester, nylon, and silk, naturally offer higher UV protection compared to cotton or rayon. Synthetic fibers are often used in UPF clothing due to their ability to block UV rays effectively. Natural fibers like cotton have a low UPF rating.
  • Tightly Woven Fabrics: Fabrics with a tight weave, such as denim or synthetic fibers like polyester, offer better protection than loosely woven fabrics. Tightly woven or knitted fabrics create smaller gaps between the fibers, making it more difficult for UV radiation to penetrate. Fabrics treated with UV-inhibiting ingredients can further enhance protection.
  • Fabric Weight: Heavier fabrics generally provide better UV protection. However, they might not be ideal for hot weather, so look for a balance between weight and comfort.
  • Color: Darker colors tend to absorb more UV radiation and offer better protection compared to lighter colors.

Performing the Stretch Test

One simple way to test the effectiveness of UPF clothing is by performing the stretch test. Stretch a small section of the fabric and hold it up to the light. If you can see a significant amount of light passing through, the fabric may not provide adequate UV protection. Tightly woven fabrics should allow minimal light to penetrate.

Comfort and Fit

Comfort is crucial when selecting UPF clothing, especially if you plan to wear it for extended periods. Ensure that the garments fit well and allow for easy movement. Look for features like moisture-wicking properties, breathability, and ventilation to keep you comfortable in various weather conditions.

Practical Tips for Maintaining UPF Clothing

  • Follow Care Instructions: Always follow the care instructions provided by the manufacturer to maintain the integrity of the UPF fabric. JOJU shirts are machine washable & dryable.
  • Avoid Harsh Chemicals: Avoid using bleach or harsh detergents, as they can degrade the fabric and reduce its UPF rating.
  • Regular Inspections: Periodically inspect your UPF clothing for signs of wear and tear. Replace any garments that have become stretched out or thin.

Additional Sun Protection Measures

While UPF clothing is a powerful tool in protecting your skin from UV radiation, it’s essential to use it in conjunction with other sun protection measures:

  • Sunscreen: Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher to all exposed skin, even when wearing UPF clothing.
  • Hats: Wear wide-brimmed hats that shade your face, neck, and ears. Look for hats with a UPF rating for added protection.
  • Sunglasses: Protect your eyes with sunglasses that block 100% of UVA and UVB rays.
  • Shade: Seek shade whenever possible, especially during peak sun hours (10am to 4pm).

The Impact of Sun Exposure on Skin Health

Sun exposure can have several adverse effects on your skin, including:

  • Sunburn: UVB rays cause sunburn, which can lead to pain, redness, and peeling.
  • Premature Aging: UVA rays penetrate deeper into the skin, causing wrinkles, fine lines, and age spots.
  • Skin Cancer: Prolonged exposure to UV radiation increases the risk of developing skin cancer, including melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma.


UPF clothing is an essential part of a comprehensive sun protection strategy. By understanding how to test and choose UPF clothing, you can make informed decisions that enhance your outdoor experience while prioritizing your health. Remember to complement UPF clothing with other sun protection measures for comprehensive coverage. With the right approach, you can enjoy the outdoors safely and confidently, knowing that your skin is well-protected.