Sun Protective Clothing vs. Sunscreen

sunscreen vs clothes

There are two main methods of protecting the skin from the damaging impact of the sun. These methods are “Sun Protective Clothing” and “Sunscreen.” In this article, I will be comparing them and looking at how they are used in the real world.

Probably what first comes to mind when people think about sun protection is sunscreen so we will start with that:


The first problem that dermatologists identify is that people fail to use the correct factor, typically using a factor that is less than recommended. Antony Young of King’s College London is the author of a report on the damage caused to skin by the rays of the sun. He discovered that typical amounts of sunscreen applied by people provided as little as 40% of the protection they expected.

The problem is that they choose protection with a lower than recommended SPF and they fail to apply it as prescribed by the manufacturers. Young suggested that since most people do not apply sunscreen properly, they should apply a factor much higher than they otherwise would if they want to get at least some protection.

The prestigious medical website WebMD ran an article entitled, “Study: You’re Probably Not Using Enough Sunscreen” in which they discussed the problems of subscreen usage and the final paragraph stated (paraphrased) that there is a lot of sun-protection clothing on the market which will provide extra protection against the effect of suns rays on the skin. It helps because few people apply sunscreen to their body, concentrating application on the face alone.

Sun-Protection Clothing

Sun protective clothing is designed to filter the rays of the sun. It typically carries a UPF factor (similar to the UPF Ultra Violet Protection Factor on sunscreens).

The advantage of the clothing is that once you put it on, it will continue working throughout the day. Creams and Gels should be applied again after two hours according to manufacturers. If you are being honest, do you always remember to do this?

Sun-Protective-Clothing will provide the protection it states on the label, and its effectiveness does not depend on how well we apply it. Just wearing the garment provides the expected protection. As the report in WebMD showed, sunscreen does not always provide the protection we expect.

On the website Live Science Dr. Joshua Zeichner, an educational spokesman for The Skin Cancer Foundation stated that we are far better off wearing sun-protection clothes than using sunscreen. In fact, he said that Sun-Protective Clothing wins hands down!


Most experts in this field tend to agree that properly designed sun-protective clothing is the best protection we can get against the damaging rays of the sun, while not denying that sunscreen has its place. Every case is different and our natural skin type will decide how much at risk you are and the factor of sunscreen and clothing you require.

Clearly, sun-protective clothing only protects where it covers the skin. All of the skin-care experts who voted for sun-protective clothing as the best solution acknowledged the need to protect remaining bare skin with sunscreen. Which of course should be the correct factor, applied correctly, and reapplied every two hours.