UV Protective Fabrics
As our suggestion to wear a hat shows, not all sun protection comes in a bottle or tube. In fact, sun protection can be as simple as covering your skin with protective clothing -- guaranteed not to clog your pores.
Just as topical sunscreens come with protection ratings (SPF), some clothing does as well. UPF stands for ultraviolet protection factor and it's used to rate clothing based on how much UV radiation can get through the fabric to your skin. Expect a t-shirt labeled as UPF 25, for example, to allow only about 1/25th (4 percent) of UV rays through its fabric [source: Skin Cancer Foundation].
UPF is based on a few characteristics of the fabric an article of clothing is made from. Fabrics that are loose fitting and darkly-colored with a tight weave have the highest UPF values, which means they do a good job of absorbing UV rays before they are able to damage your skin. Some UPF-rated clothing incorporates sun-blocking particles such as titanium dioxide, also used in physical sunscreens, embedded in the fibers to boost its protective qualities.
You don't necessarily need special fabrics to get some protection from the sun, though, and you probably already have clothing that offers some degree of protection. Even if it doesn't have a UPF label, if you have clothing with the attributes above -- loose-fitting, dark, tightly-woven -- it will offer UV protection. Synthetic fabrics such as polyester and nylon offer the most protection. And don't overlook your wardrobe staples -- denim jeans, for example, have a UPF rating of about 1,700 (well above the recommended UPF of 30 or greater) [source: Skin Cancer Foundation]. Clothing in good condition will offer the best protection, too. A t-shirt, for example, that's worn in spots or stretched out won't offer as much protection as one that is in good shape.
You can also give your everyday wardrobe a UV-blocking boost: Consider including a UVA/UVB additive in your laundry cycle. This is a simple way to up the sun protection of the clothing you wear every day.