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How much do clothes really protect from the sun?

Like creams, not all fabrics protect the same against the sunlight and their effects, ranging from aging and the appearance of spots on the skin to possible cancer. Covering ourselves with clothes has many advantages: we save sunscreen and we avoid neglecting certain parts, however, according to recent research in summer clothing textiles for protection against ultraviolet radiation, it is important to consider the fabric of the clothes, the thickness of the yarn and the dye or color.

The least dense fabric is that of linen shirts that can only protect you like a factor 10 cream. Cotton T-shirts, on the other hand, can protect you from ultraviolet rays like a factor 40 cream, since their fabric is more compact. And Polo shirts can protect you even more so with the equivalent of a cream of factor 200.

Regarding the color, if they are dark colors, the filter increases, since the ink adheres to the threads and makes them thicker, thus decreasing the distance between them.

If a cotton T-shirt is very worn down, its fabric will have weakened and it will block less against the sunlight. In addition, if it is wet it will filter less because the light rays enter the wet tissue more directly and disperse. Although this only affects cotton shirts and not those made with polyester, specifically for sports. According to experts, these polyester shirts are the ones that take most care of the skin from the sun.

The most sophisticated options are the garments with the built-in sun protection, usually designed by sports brands. The fabrics of these garments usually have ceramic or mineral additives, such as titanium oxide which make them reflect light.

Although today you would not need to wear special fabrics to protect yourself, it would be sufficient for all the clothes to include the protection factor on their label.

Cesar Vargas


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