Block Out Lock Out – UPF, The SPF For Your Body

Here's why wearing black protects your skin from sun damage!

By Esther Soh


Summer is the perfect season for lightweight sundresses, off-shoulder tops and dainty swimsuits. Slapping on some sunscreen, slipping on a floppy hat and sliding on a pair of sunglasses all sound like a foolproof plan to stay covered under the scorching heat but even with all theses extra precautionary measures, we still can’t be promised full protection from the cumulation of skin damaging UV rays.

While the ideal summertime closet may consist of loose and sheer clothing, it may be time to stray away from the conventional outfit and incorporate clothing with higher levels of ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) coverage. Just like how SPF is used to measure the level of UV protection for skin, UPF measures the UV protection provided by fabrics. Clothes provide different levels of UV protection based on colour dye, fabric content, weight and weave.

As self-explanatory as it is, long sleeves, long pants and long skirts cover the largest surface area of the skin but we may just find ourselves in a sticky situation. Instead of wrapping ourselves in cloth, opting for darker coloured clothes is another way to block out harmful UV rays. You might be thinking, ‘But our teachers taught us at the age of 10 that black absorbs heat so why would we wear black’? Even the universe knows of this fact but sacrificing your skin to stay cool isn’t exactly the most brilliant option in the long run.

Although wearing dark coloured clothes does indeed make us feel uncomfortably warm, they actually offer greater UV protection than whites or pastels because the rays can’t penetrate the fabric as well. Moreover, darker coloured clothes hold a higher UPF rating; A green cotton T-shirt holds a UPF rating of 10 while a white cotton T-shirt holds a UPF rating of 7.

However, it is not to say that only dark clothes should be worn in this midsummer madness. Just like black, bright coloured clothing also have the ability to block out an extent of UV penetration. The more vivid the colour, the better the protection you get.

Especially for Asian skin, hyper-pigmentation is an issue we can never run away from. Due to low production levels of Melanin, a natural skin pigment that protects the skin from UV damage, our skin is more prone to pigmentary disorders like freckles. Unless we are religiously re-applying sunblock on our body every few hours, we cannot escape the impending sun damage and continuous correction via skin whitening and brightening. Why not double up the protection and deck out in both SPF and UPF by going back to black and bright clothes?

Don’t hesitate to dress in your favourite bright hues because the summer vibes are here to stay. Just like how your skin absorbs its daily dose of SPF, also remember to provide your body with a decent set of UPF outfit every day!