Do you live in a sunny state? If yes, you need to make sure you're keeping your skin safe.
Skin cancer rates are on the rise, despite more people being aware of the importance of sun protection. One of the reasons for this is climbing UV levels.
If you want to protect yourself and your family from the harmful effects of UV rays, sunscreen can only do so much. In addition to sunscreen, you should also look into UV clothing. Specially formulated sun protective clothing can block out up to 98% of the sun's UV rays and have a UPF of 50+, which is better than most typical sunscreens.
However, there is one issue to be aware of. Not all UV clothing is comprehensively tested.
If you're relying on a garment to provide strong protection from UV exposure—and it doesn't, this could be dangerous for your skin.
Therefore, it's critical that you only buy UV clothing that has undergone thorough UV protection testing. If you don't, you could be putting yourself and your family at risk.
Shop safe and keep reading to find out how to know which clothing brands sell UV-tested clothing and which don't.
What Is UV Tested Clothing?
UV clothing is specifically designed to block out almost all UV rays from reaching the skin underneath. Covering up is a staple skin cancer prevention method, but most regular clothing doesn't offer all that much UV protection.
For instance, most cotton garments will only give you a UPF of around 5. As we mentioned above, UV clothing can have UPF ratings of up to 50.
True UV clothing has to undergo independent UV exposure tests. If it doesn't, who's to say the garments really offer high levels of sun protection?
The independent tests also need to adhere to national guidelines and requirements. Currently, these are set by the American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists (AATCC).
Not All UV Clothing Undergoes Testing
Unfortunately, not all clothing that's marketed as offering UV protection has undergone testing.
One of the reasons for this is clothing manufacturers aren't automatically required to get garments tested for UV protection. If they market an item as UV protective, they are supposed to get independent tests carried out. They also need to ensure that the item meets the minimum protection level required for UV clothing, which is UPF 30.
However, because the UV test process is optional, there isn't a high level of regulation around apparel producers and UV clothing. Unlike sunscreen products that have to be approved by the FDA, UV clothing can easily slip under the radar.
Some UV clothing brands may not even realize they're required to send their products for UPF clothing testing. Others might carry out in-house testing but fail to obtain comprehensive testing from an independent laboratory that complies with the standards set by the AATCC.
This doesn't mean all UV clothing that hasn't undergone testing is ineffective. If the product developers have followed the right steps in formulating the clothing, it may still offer decent levels of UV protection.
However, unless UV clothing undergoes testing, there's no way to know for sure whether you can rely on it to offer full protection. When it comes to your skin and the sun, it's best not to take chances.
Commonalities of Brands That Claim UV Testing but Don’t Test Their Fabrics
If you want to give your skin the maximum level of protection while out in the sun, then you'll want to go for a brand that sells UV-tested clothing, not just clothing that's marketed as offering sun protection.
There are many clothing brands on the market which say their items have a UPF rating. But not all brands give consumers clear info on the testing process and standards their clothing adheres to.
Here are some commonalities among brands that claim to do UV testing on their clothing, but probably don't.
No Mention of Testing Standards or Compliance Status
Brands that don't put their UV clothing through UV tests usually won't display much info on their sites around the UPF rating. They typically won't state whether or not their fabrics have undergone UV testing. They also won't mention whether the apparel is AATCC compliant.
Some examples of brands that don't offer UV testing info on their sites are SanSoleil, Sofibella, Lucky In Love, and IBKÜL.
Using Materials that Can't be UV Protective
Another thing to look out for when shopping for UV clothing is materials that obviously can't be UV protective.
The two main culprits are usually mesh and very see-through materials. If you hold a garment up to the light, and you can see the light shining through—it's probably not keeping out much UV.
Mesh is, of course, even worse. It doesn't matter what a product write-up might say, mesh cannot keep out UV rays. It's just not physically possible.
If you come across a seller that's marketing see-through items as UV clothing, this is a warning sign. Either they aren't aware of the standards for UV clothing, or they're just trying to leverage UV protection as a selling term.
When it comes to mesh, keep in mind that some UV-tested clothing does include mesh for increased breathability. However, any mesh areas will lie under a denser fabric that can fully protect you from UV exposure.
Giving UV Ratings Instead of UPF Ratings
Another commonality among brands that don't do UV testing is giving a UV rating for products rather than UPF ratings.
The UV protection level of fabric is measured by its UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) rating. Saying that a garment has a UV rating of +50 doesn't make much sense, and indicates that the garments haven't undergone testing.
If UV clothing is tested according to the AATCC's standards, the items will receive a UPF rating, not a UV rating.
Offering UV Protection as an Extra Feature
Finally, brands that don't do UV testing usually don't focus specifically on UV clothing or UV protective products. Instead, they might have some other feature as their main selling point, such as moisture-wicking capabilities in their fabrics.
UV protection is usually an added benefit, not the main performance feature.
UV Clothing Brands That Do Thorough Testing
If you want to rest assured that the UV clothing you're buying offers maximum protection from the sun, then you need to shop with a brand that does UV testing on its apparel lines.
Here are a few clothing brands that do comprehensive, third-party UV clothing testing. The first thing that sets them apart is that if you go to their websites, you will see they go into detail about their testing process and standards.
These brands also test by color and batch and have the Skin Cancer Foundation Seal so you can see they mean business.
No list of UV clothing brands would be complete without a mention of BloqUV apparel. All of BloqUV's apparel undergoes rigorous third-party testing to ensure that does what it promises to.
Every piece of BloqUV clothing has built-in UV protection. All of the fabrics are tested in accordance with AATCC TM 183 to ensure a UPF of 50+, which is the highest possible rating for fabric and blocks 98% of UVA/UVB rays.
BloqUV's core focus is supreme UV protection. At the same time, the lines are also:
- Moisture wicking
- Anti-microbial and anti-odor
- Shrink resistant
The best part? The UV protection in BloqUV's patented BloqTek® fabric will never wash out.
Cabana Life is another clothing brand that offers UV-tested clothing. Founded by a cancer survivor, one of the core missions of Cabana Life is to provide stylish protection from the sun.
Not only does the Cabana Life website go into detail on sun safety, but it also clearly states that all of the fabrics used in Cabana Life products are tested in accordance with the AATCC.
Like Cabana Life, Coolibar also has a core focus on sun protection. Besides a wide array of colorful designs, Coolibar features a page on their site dedicated to explaining what goes into UV protection fabric. This page also states that all their fabrics undergo third-party testing.
Coolibar does not mention the AATCC, but the fact that their fabrics are third-party tested suggested that the tests are compliant with the AATCC requirements.
How to Find Clothing Brands That Test for UV Exposure
We've covered some of the brands that do test for UV protection according to the AATCC standards. However, this list doesn't cover all the clothing brands out there that offer UV-protective clothing.
If you're shopping around for UV clothing from brands we haven't mentioned above, here are a couple of things to look out for.
Check for Info on UV Testing Processes
The first thing to check when evaluating UV protection garments from potential clothing brands is UV testing info.
Does the brand explain its testing process? If they do, is there a reference to the AATCC standards?
If a clothing brand doesn't have any information about its testing process, there's a good chance they don't carry out independent UV protection tests.
On the other hand, if they have a page that explains their testing standards, this is a good indication that their UV clothing does undergo comprehensive tests. If the brand references the AATCC standards, this shows they are aware of the standardized testing requirements for UV clothing and are complying with them.
Vet for a Focus on UV Protection
Another way you can identify good quality, effective UV clothing is by looking for clothing brands that focus purely on UV protection.
If a brand's main focus is products that guard against UV exposure there's a higher chance that all of their products have gone through a comprehensive, independent UV test.
On the other hand, if UV clothing is just one of many products a brand sells—they probably haven't invested as many resources into product development and testing.
Or maybe a UV clothing brand does seem to specialize in UV protection clothing, but has very cheap prices, or a huge variety of products?
The best UV clothing companies tend to ask a little more for their products because more engineering has gone into them. You'll also often find that industry-leading UV clothing brands have more streamlined, simplified product ranges. Instead of a hundred golf shirts in different patterns, they might list one golf shirt design, with a dozen color options.
Look for Brands That Have the Skin Cancer Foundation Seal of Recommendation on Their Website
A further way you can spot high-quality UV clothing that offers effective protection is by looking out for the Skin Cancer Foundation's Seal of Recommendation. The Skin Cancer Foundation awards its Seal of Recommendation to various products that meet their stringent criteria for effective and safe sun protection.
The Seal of Recommendation is recognized and trusted globally. You can find it on hang tags, in catalogs, in-store, and on brand websites.
The great thing about the Skin Cancer Foundation's Seal of Recommendation when it comes to UV fabrics is it offers a guarantee that you're looking at UV-tested clothing. The Skin Cancer Foundation will only extend its Seal of Recommendation to fabric products that have been tested.
Products need to have acceptable test results according to the AATCC method to gain the Seal of Recommendation. They also need to have a minimum rating of 30 UPF on the lightest shade in the range.
Investigate Customer Reviews
Another way you can gauge whether a brand's UV clothing is effective is to look at the reviews. The reviews might not give you much insight into whether the fabric undergoes UV testing—but they can give you some useful firsthand info on how the garments perform.
If you see a boatload of reviewers saying that the clothing didn't seem to offer that much UV protection, there's a good chance it doesn't undergo proper UV testing.
On the other hand, if most of the reviews are raving about how effective the products are against UV exposure and sunburn, they're probably well formulated and are worth looking into further.
Are You Looking for UV Clothing You Can Trust?
Investing in good-quality UV clothing is one of the most effective ways you can guard against the damaging effects of sun exposure. But, not all UV protection is created equal. Some clothing brands offer a better guarantee of the effectiveness of their items than others.
Are you looking for a brand of UV clothing you can trust? BloqUV, Cabana Life, and Coolibar are three trusted options that carry out comprehensive testing.
Do your skin a favor and only invest in UV clothing that offers tested protection.