Sunscreen may not provide enough UV protection, but these lightweight, stylish designs have got you covered

You already apply sunscreen to your face every day (at least you should be), but what about the rest of your body? When we’re in a rush in the mornings or on the move outdoors, applying sunscreen on exposed areas of our bodies, such as our arms and legs, can feel like a chore.

While most people think of sunscreen as the best form of protection against the sun’s harmful rays, the first line of defence against UV radiation is actually your clothing. Unfortunately, a regular cotton T-shirt won’t really do much for you.

Why sunscreen and regular clothing don’t provide enough UV protection

uniqlo uv protection wear sunscreen
Photo source: Julian Jagtenberg/Pexels

Aesthetic doctor Dr. Rachel Ho says, “Most people do not apply an adequate amount of sunscreen or apply it consistently on exposed parts of their body (e.g. face, neck, hands, and legs) where UV rays can reach.”

“If the amount of sunscreen used is less than adequate, the amount of protection against UV rays will be less than the SPF and PA value of the sunscreen,” she explains. Sunscreen tends to wear off after three to four hours too, and we lazy folks often skip reapplication during the day. And as most of us are aware, applying sunscreen once a in the morning is simply not enough.

As for our clothes, it’s estimated that a regular white tee has an SPF rating lower than 15, and if that tee gets drenched in sweat, then its rating plummets even further. That’s why your best bet to protecting your skin is to invest in clothing with UPF.

The difference between SPF and UPF

uniqlo uv protection wear spf upf
Credit: Maggie Zhan/Pexels

According to Dr. Ho, sun protection factor (SPF) is a measure of a sunscreen’s protection against only UVB rays. The higher the SPF value, the better the protection. “It is a marker of how much longer a person can stay in the sun before getting burnt, relative to no sunscreen use,” Dr. Ho shares. “If a person’s skin turns red in 60 minutes with sunscreen use, but turns red in two minutes without sunscreen use, then the sunscreen’s SPF value is 60/2 = 30.”

Ultraviolet protection factor (UPF), on the other hand, is a measure of a fabric’s protection against both UVA and UVB rays. “The higher the UPF value, the better the protection,” she emphasises. For example, if a piece of clothing is rated UPF 50, only two percent of the sun’s rays can make it through.

When it’s difficult to find time to reapply your sunscreen, UPF clothes come in handy as they complement SPF use. “Wearing UV protection clothing can help to keep the exposed parts of the body like the neck and hands protected from the harmful effects of UVA and UVB rays throughout the day,” Dr. Ho says.

This is why UPF swimwear is often made from tightly woven fabrics and is usually treated with some form of chemical UV absorber, making them even more effective. Fortunately for us, UNIQLO created their UV Protection Wear, which includes a large range of items that go beyond swimwear.

The solution: UNIQLO’s UV Protection Wear

In 2004, UNIQLO bolstered its range of apparel with UV-blocking LifeWear, which provides instant sun protection just by wearing it. Using special fabrics that block out UV rays, the collection features designs that are comfortable and functional for easy, everyday wear.

“Unlike traditional forms of sun protection, putting on a UV Protection hoodie, cardigan, jacket, or hat takes a matter of seconds,” Joyce Tan, Marketing Director or UNIQLO Singapore, says. “When there’s no effort required, it becomes that much easier to remain appropriately protected when spending time outdoors.”

Fabrics and materials are key to UNIQLO’s UV Protection Wear, as it features UV light-reflecting fabric that either reflects UV radiation or absorbs UV light to protect the skin. “The protection it offers is also long-lasting, ensuring our customers feel safe and protected while on the move without the persisting and inconvenient worry of reapplying sun protection,” Joyce assures.

Besides sun protection, functionality remains a top priority. “The fabrics of our parkas are kept compact, easy to carry, and water-repellent,” she mentions. “We also have UV protection for our AIRism long-sleeve T-shirts, which include quick-dry and anti-bacterial technology too.”

Of course, you won’t have to sacrifice style with these flexible, contemporary designs. “We’ve made no exceptions or compromises to the way these items look as part of your favourite outfits. You can choose any of these products that will fit into your lifestyle and daily habits,” Joyce says.

UNIQLO UV Protection Wear: Our must-haves

Since UNIQLO’s UV Protection Wear comprises a wide variety of apparel, we sifted through the collection to share with you our top picks that you can start with.

1. Pocketable UV Protection Parka

uniqlo uv protection wear parka

If you don’t want to cloak yourself in fabric from head to toe, a simple solution would be to bring along the Pocketable UV Protection Parka. It has a high UVP coverage of UPF 40, which will protect you from harmful UV rays when you step out for lunch.

“The jacket comes with a hoodie so you can easily pull it over your head to protect your neck and head to block the sun or chilly wind,” Joyce says. “The best part about it is that it folds into a small pouch (that comes with the jacket) for easy carrying, so you can carry it in your bag wherever you go.”

UNIQLO Pocketable UV Protection Parka retails for S$49.90 at UNIQLO.

2. AIRism Seamless UV Protection Long T-shirt

uniqlo uv protection wear ls shirt

Stay cool and comfortable with this long-sleeved T-shirt, which has a relaxed fit to keep things breezy.

AIRISM Seamless UV Protection Long T-shirt retails for S$29.90 at UNIQLO.

3. AIRism Soft UV Protection Leggings

uniqlo uv protection wear leggings

Redesigned with an improved fit around the waist for better comfort, these soft, quick-drying AIRISM leggings are perfect for yoga classes and casual wear. These high-performance leggings also provide more coverage, so they offer higher UV protection and aren’t see-through.

AIRISM UV Protection Active Soft Leggings retail for S$24.90 at UNIQLO.

4. HPJ AIRism UV Protection Long Sleeve T-Shirt

uniqlo uv protection wear hana tajima

Created in collaboration with fashion designer Hana Tajima, this lightweight, long-sleeved turtleneck will add instant polish to your look. Style it with a pair of wide-leg trousers for a chic update.

HPJ AIRism UV Protection Long Sleeve T-Shirt retails for S$19.90 at UNIQLO

5. UV Protection Adjustable Capeline Hat

uniqlo uv protection wear hat

The top of our heads get the most UV exposure during the day, so when it’s particularly sunny out, don this summery hat for UV protection. Its wavy brim has adjustable wires, so you can contour its shape to your preference.

UV Protection Adjustable Capeline Hat retails for S$29.90 at UNIQLO