The Best Colors to Wear for Sun Protection

When it comes to sun-safe clothing, not all colors are made equal..

Fabric color is one significant factor you’ll want to consider when shopping for sun protective clothing. Fabric weave, weight, and type will likely have more of an effect on a piece of clothing’s sun protection ability than color, but it’s smart to keep color shades in mind as well.

So which colors are best for sun protection against the sun and skin cancer? The quick answer: black and dark colors are the best option for protecting your skin from the sun. Avoid white and light-colored clothing if you’re looking to prevent UV damage.

Let’s jump into more detail as we break down why black is best (and what other color options you should consider for UV safety).

What Colors are Best for Sun Protection (And Why)?

Style dictates that white should be worn in the summer months, but in truth, darker colors are your best option for protecting yourself from the sun’s harmful UV rays.

This is because darker colors absorb more UV rays than lighter colors like whites and pastels.

This means that when light hits a black shirt, the light is absorbed and converted into heat. The black material absorbs the UV rays instead of your skin!

Good news though – bright colors like red are great for absorbing UV rays as well. Basically, the more vivid and bright the color, the better the protection!

The downside is that since these dark and vivid-colored materials are absorbing more UV rays, they are generating more heat, which in turn can result in you feeling warmer and sweaty.

This is one reason why many people mistakenly think white is the best to wear for summer – white reflects more sun, so it may keep you a bit cooler, but you sacrifice a lot of UV protection.

That’s why it’s best to pair clothing featuring dark or bright colors with moisture-wicking features or ventilation that can help keep you cool. Modern sun protective clothing can help your dark clothes absorb not just UV rays but also your sweat.

Moisture-wicking capabilities can then move your sweat to the outer layer of your clothing, where it can evaporate, creating an additional cooling sensation that will keep you more comfortable.

Best Colors for Sun Protection:

  • Black
  • Navy Blue
  • Bright Red
  • Dark Purple
  • In general: bright, vivid colors

Worst Colors for Sun Protection:

  • White
  • Yellow
  • In general: light, pastel colors
best colors for sun protection

Color Isn’t the Most Important Factor

While color is certainly a factor to consider, the color of your clothing is not nearly as important as the material’s weave and weight. Generally, the heavier and thicker the material, the better sun protection it will provide.

Some of the best fabric materials for blocking UV rays include wool and denim – but of course, this type of fabric can be sweltering in the summer, which is why many people opt for UPF clothes that manage to protect your skin from the sun’s rays while staying lightweight and comfortable.

Not sure if you’re getting sun protection from your standard everyday clothes?

A great tip is – if you can see through the fabric, sun (and therefore the sun’s harmful UV rays) can hit your skin. The less light you can see filtering through the material, the better protection you are getting!


Unsurprisingly, white and light-colored fabric tend to be more see-through. Some believe brightly colored clothing can better absorb UV rays in part because of the dyes used to color the fabric. Whites and light-colored clothing use less dye, resulting in overall thinner, easily-permeated material.

This is why it’s not unusual for people to get sunburnt through their clothing – if the material is thin or otherwise allows light to pass through, the wearer can be burned, even when covered up with no visibly exposed skin!

For Reliable Protection, Opt For UPF Clothes

The best way to get the most protection from the sun, regardless of an article of clothing’s material or color, is to choose UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) clothing.

UPF clothing is designed to keep out the sun and protect your skin, all while keeping you cool and comfortable through wicking features, light-weight (yet sun-blocking) materials, ventilation panels, and other cooling properties.

What colors do you like to wear in the summer? Do you choose clothing color based on how much UV protection it provides? Let us know in the comments!

1 thought on “The Best Colors to Wear for Sun Protection”

  1. Thank you for your article. We had a pool while growing up. My younger sister had a pink swimsuit with black polka dots. Her first day wearing it, we were in the pool for a few hours. I remember her taking her suit off and having polka dot tanned spots all over her abdomen. The sunlight definitely absorbed into the BLACK dots, but not the pink. Of course fabric weave and density matter, but I am sticking with tightly woven light colors. I also noticed on my driving gloves that the tan color was 97spf, and the white color was 99spf. Maybe you could use my examples to test this. Wear a shirt of identical fabric in two colors of white and black. With not other sun protection, wear it all day outdoors and see the results. You could be the only writer on the internet to prove my baby sister’s swimsuit was true. 🙂


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