Firstly, congratulations for thinking of the question. Not many people realize that this is a possibility. It may come as a bit of a shock, but the answer is yes.
A regular cotton t-shirt may have a UPF rating as low as 5 which means that it allows 20% of UV radiation through the garment. If you are outside exposed to the sun and you become aware that your skin is exposed to that proportion of UV radiation you would probably think twice about your choice of garment.
The effects of sun exposure (sunburn, skin aging and potential incidence of skin cancer) are cumulative and even intermittent sun exposure can add up over time. So, if you are wearing regular clothing even if you are not outside all day, over time you may be exposed to many sun hours.
You are probably thinking, ok, so if I am not necessarily protected from the sun with my regular clothes, how can I know what level of protection I am getting? The answer is that unless a fabric has been tested and rated by an institution of authority then you won’t know definitively what level of protection you are getting.
The level of sun protection offered by a garment will vary depending on a number of factors. These variables include: the fabric weight, the fabric composition, the yarn construction, the color of the fabric. For example, a denim jacket will likely provide excellent sun protection due its composition and weight, but will be uncomfortable to wear on a hot, sunny day.
Specialist sun protective clothing offers excellent sun protection due to the protection offered by the fabric used but also because of the design and fabric attributes. The trick of sun protective clothing is that it offers excellent sun protection, but simultaneously offers style and comfort in harsh sunny conditions.
If you are after maximum sun protection from your clothing, look for garments which have been certified UPF 50+. This means that at least 98% of UV is blocked by the fabric. In Australia, the Government tests and certifies sun protective fabrics.
If you are after high quality sun protective clothing, you should look for specialist product from Australia.
Australia always has been at the forefront of sun protection because 2 in 3 Australians experience skin cancer before the age of 70. Sun protection is literally a matter of life or death in Australia. Sun protective clothing, sunscreen and the fabric sun protective rating system was invented in Australia.
At Solbari our mission is to share Australian sun protection excellence with the rest of the world. Solbari fabrics are tested and rated UPF50+ by the Australian Government.