Future Skin-Safe Fashion: Textile Technology and Sun Protection

Published: March 11, 2023

Fashion has always been a crucial aspect of our lives, and how we dress has changed drastically. However, with the increasing intensity of damaging ultraviolet rays due to climate change, it is becoming increasingly important to prioritize sun protection when selecting clothes. As a result, textile technology has become a vital tool in the advancement of skin-safe fashion.

The use of innovative textile materials and production technologies can not only provide effective security against UV radiation but also create comfortable and fashionable clothing. In this article, we will look at the science, innovative textile technologies of radiation protection, and the challenges and opportunities in creating sun-safe clothing.

The science of sun protection

Understanding the effects of ultraviolet radiation on the skin and developing methods to protect the skin from these damaging rays is crucial in the field of sun protection. 

The sun emits two types of harmful UV radiation, namely UVA and UVB. While UVB is the main culprit behind sunburn and skin cancer, UVA can penetrate deep into the skin, leading to premature aging.

However, under safe conditions, UV radiation exposure has many medical benefits. Heliotherapy, a therapeutic method, uses the sun’s rays to improve physical and mental health. The opinions of doctors and researchers — in the article by Dr. Jose Diego Mier.

How does UV radiation damage the skin?

When sun rays penetrate the skin, they can cause the production of free radicals that damage the DNA in cells. This injury can trigger a cascade of reactions that lead to inflammation, cell death, and the breakdown of collagen and elastin fibers in the skin. Over time, it can result in wrinkles, fine lines, and other signs of premature aging, as well as an increased risk of skin cancer

UV protection factors and their importance in clothing

The level of protection against ultraviolet radiation provided by clothing is determined by the UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) grading system. The security factor rises as the UPF number increases. Clothing with it is crucial for protecting the skin from the sun’s harmful rays because it provides quick and easy access. Unlike sunscreen, which needs to be reapplied every few hours, clothing provides constant protection as long as you wear it. It is also a great option for people who are sensitive to certain ingredients in products with SPF or prefer not to use them at all.

How can sun protection textiles be developed?

Sun-safe textiles can be developed using various methods, such as adding UV-absorbing chemicals, making use of tightly woven fibers, or applying special coatings or films. Some fabrics, such as polyester and nylon, naturally have higher UPF levels than others, such as cotton and silk.

Innovative technologies, such as nanotechnology, are also being used to enhance the protective properties of sun-safe textiles. For example, zinc oxide or titanium dioxide particles can be incorporated into the fabric to provide additional UV protection without changing the look or feel of the garment.

Innovations in sun protection textile technology

As we become more aware of the harmful effects of UV radiation on our skin, the demand for sun protection textiles continues to grow. Technology has advanced significantly in recent years, resulting in a range of innovative sun protection fabrics that offer both style and functionality.

Different types of sun protection textiles

There are several types of sun protection textiles available, each with its unique properties and benefits. Some of the most common include:

  • Polyester

Polyester is a popular choice because it is lightweight, breathable, and naturally has a high level of sun protection. These fabrics can also be treated with ultraviolet-absorbing chemicals to enhance their protective properties.

  • Nylon

Like polyester, nylon is a lightweight and breathable textile that provides excellent UV protection. These fabrics can also be treated with UV-absorbing chemicals or coated with special films to increase their UPF rating.

  • Bamboo

Bamboo is a sustainable and eco-friendly fabric that offers natural sun protection. Textiles are also naturally moisture-wicking and breathable, making them a good choice for outdoor activities.

The role of nanotechnology in sun protection textiles

Nanotechnology is playing an increasingly important role in the development of sun protection textiles. Nanoparticles of materials such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide can be embedded into the fabric to provide additional safety without affecting the look or feel of the clothing. 

Examples of innovative sun protection textiles currently on the market

One example of an innovative sun protection textile is the Sunblock line of clothing from the Australian company Solbari. It uses a unique blend of bamboo and cotton fibers that provide natural UV blocking. The clothing is also treated with a special UPF coating that enhances its protective properties.

Another example is the SunTek line of clothing from Coolibar, which is made from a blend of polyester and spandex fibers that provide excellent UV protection. The textile is also treated with a special UPF coating and features moisture-wicking and breathable properties, making it ideal for outdoor activities.

Challenges and opportunities in the field of sun protection fashion

The field of sun protection fashion is rapidly growing, driven by increased awareness of the harmful effects of UV radiation on the skin. While there are many challenges to be faced, there are also exciting opportunities for innovation and collaboration between fashion designers and textile engineers.

The market for sun protection clothing

The market for sun protection clothing has been steadily growing in recent years. Grand View Research published a study on the global market for sun-safe clothing is expected to reach $10.5 billion by 2025. This growth is driven by factors such as rising skin cancer rates, increased awareness of the dangers of UV radiation, and the development of new, innovative sun protection textiles

One of the challenges of this market is that many consumers are still not aware of the importance of sun-safe clothing. In addition, some of them may be reluctant to purchase protective clothing due to concerns about style, comfort, or cost. To overcome these challenges, it will be essential to educate people about the benefits of sun protection in fashion and to develop textiles that are both fashionable and functional.

Collaboration between fashion designers and textile engineers

One way to address the challenges in the field of sun protection fashion is through collaboration between fashion designers and textile engineers. By working together, these professionals can develop innovative textiles that offer both style and functionality.

Many companies are already engaged in collaboration between fashion designers and textile engineers in the field of sun protection clothing. Here are a few examples:

  • Coolibar

This company specializes in sun protection clothing and works to develop innovative fabrics that provide both UV protection and comfort. They also collaborate with fashion designers to create stylish and functional clothing for men, women, and children.

  • Under Armour

This sports apparel company has developed a line of sun protection clothing that is both stylish and functional. It also works with textile engineers to develop fabrics that offer both breathability and safe.

  • Columbia Sportswear

This company has been developing clothing for many years to create innovative fabrics that provide maximum protection from the sun.

  • Patagonia

It is a company that is well known for its commitment to environmental sustainability and ethical practices in the fashion industry. While they do offer some UV-protected clothing items, it is not the brand’s main focus.


In conclusion, the future of skin-safe fashion is bright, with the development of innovative textiles and collaboration between fashion designers and textile engineers. However, some challenges need to be addressed, such as consumer awareness and acceptance of sun protection clothing. By investing in textile technology and collaboration, we can ensure that the future of fashion is both stylish and safe for our skin.

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