Guide to UPF 50 Sun Protection Swimwear for 2023

Guide to UPF 50 Sun Protection Swimwear for 2023

Getting outside and spending time in the sun is not only fun but also vital to good health - sun exposure helps our bodies produce vitamin D. Too much sun exposure can be detrimental to your health. Spending extended periods outside that result in sunburns causes premature aging and can damage your eyes and cause skin cancer.

So where is the middle ground? Luckily, we have this helpful guide to help you navigate the wonderful world of sun protection swimwear. From swim trunks to rash guards, we have everything you need to have fun in the sun without worrying too much about the sun's damaging rays.

How Important is Sun Protection in Your Swimwear Choices?

All it takes is one or two significant sunburns in a person’s life to increase significantly their chances of developing skin cancer later in life. According to skin cancer experts, wearable sun protection is the best choice for protecting your skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays. Anytime you go outside, you should, of course, wear sunscreen on exposed skin, but wearing loose-fitting clothing that is made from tightly woven materials that will block those harmful UV rays is usually considered the best course of action because, unlike sunscreen, you won’t need to reapply your rash guard every hour or so.

In addition to protecting yourself with sun-protective clothing and swimwear, ensure you also invest in good sunglasses and a hat. A large floppy hat is not only super chic but also an excellent barrier-type sun protection. Most tightly woven, wide-brimmed hats and foldable and packable, easily tucked into your beach bag.

How Does Sun-Protective Swimwear Work?

To be considered officially protective from the various types of harmful UV rays, sun-protective clothing and swimwear should be at least 30 UPF. If your swimsuit, rash guard, etc., is at least 30 UPF, you can rest assured that these materials have been painstakingly tested and proven to protect your skin far better than sunscreen alone.

UPF sun protective clothing is so tightly woven that, unlike regular clothing made from materials such as cotton, it acts as a physical barrier that shades your vulnerable skin from the sun and its UV rays. Some clothing that claims to be sun protective is treated with sun protection chemicals that may wash out over time, so be sure to take note of this before investing. For even more protection, you can invest in swim leggings or other bathing suits covering thighs.

What is UPF and How Much Does it Matter?

Similar to your sunscreen’s SPF, UPF stands for Ultra-Violet Protection Factor. This is the standard way sun protection is quantified in clothing and swimwear. Unlike SPF, which only measures protection against UV-B rays, UPF measures and protects against UV-A and UV-B rays. The number representing this factor tells you how much of the sun’s ultraviolet rays reach your skin. UPF 50 is the highest UPF that any clothing or swimwear can be, so be wary of any item claiming to be higher than this. 50 UPF protects your skin from 98 percent (or 1/50) of those harmful rays.

Besides being super convenient and significantly reducing the amount of sunscreen you have to invest in and reapply over and over, sun-protective swimwear has also recently become incredibly fashionable. From cute swim skirts to flattering high-neck swimsuits, you can be just as chic as you are safe.

Do You Need a Rash Guard?

Some might associate rash guards with surfing and paddleboarding, thinking these incredibly protective swim accessories are exclusive to the world of watersports, but let us reassure you this is not the case. A rash guard is a fantastic investment for anyone who is planning on having fun in the sun this summer or any time the sun is shining.

Although initially designed to protect surfers’ chests and abdomens from sand and surf wax, rash guards are now a must-have for all beachgoers. These athletic shirts, it turns out, are also some of the best ways to protect yourself from sunburns and skin damage.

Kids Sun Protection Swimwear

What about the little ones? All of the above rules also apply to them, perhaps even more so, as they tend to have more sensitive and vulnerable skin. Unfortunately, as most parents can attest, wrestling a toddler to ensure they are fully covered in enough sunscreen lotion can put a damper on your beach day. Luckily, long-sleeved kid’s rash guards, swim skirts, and trunks tend to be pretty comfortable and flexible and, as long as they are certified UPF 50 or higher, can serve as a great alternative to sunscreen on shoulders, back, etc.

Now that you’re fully equipped with your UPF gear, you’re ready to get out there and have some fun in the sun!


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