Most of us don’t apply sunscreen regularly enough, let alone wear clothing with sun protection built in. In fact, you may not know that UV rays can penetrate clothes, even through windows, which is why it’s so easy to get sunburned when you’re driving. We’re particularly exposed at the beach, where aging and skin cancer-causing UVA rays can be absorbed right through swimwear — unless we opt for a swimsuit made of UPF fabric.
So what exactly is UPF? UPF stands for Ultraviolet Protection Factor and indicates what fraction of the sun’s ultraviolet rays can penetrate the fabric. A swimsuit with UPF 50, for example, only lets 1/50 of the sun’s UV radiation reach your skin.
Unfortunately, it’s hard to find stylish clothing made with UPF fabric, but according to Kore Swim designer Jessica Schulz, there’s no difference in the function, look or feel of UPF versus “regular” swimwear fabric. “We found an amazing fabric that luckily has UPF 50+ properties. Why wouldn’t you want to be as protected as possible when baring your skin in the sun? I come from an Irish family who is prone to skin cancer, so it’s really nice to know that the swimwear I wear is protective,” she says
This idea was echoed by Cover Swim founder Lisa Moore who also notes that the fabric is easy to wash and the protection does not wear away. “We don’t apply a chemical coating for protection — the protection is entirely physical provided by the weave of the most opaque fibers. We recommend machine washing on a cool/gentle cycle and line drying,” she says.
Here’s a look at some standout UPF swimwear to keep you protected all summer long.