Inside Coolibar Sun Protection Clothing SunAWARE Wear Sun Protection

Your Questions on Sun Protective Clothing Answered

Today, Coolibar President John Barrow and Executive VP of Merchandising Michael Hubsmith answered Facebook fans’ questions about sun protective clothing.

Q. What makes your garments UV Protective?

A. Our collection of SUNTECT fabrics include the best active ingredients found in sunscreens including Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide.

Q. Since you add Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide into the clothes, can it wash out?

A. We actually test all of our materials to make sure the UV protection is permanent. Part of our testing procedure is to wash and dry a fabric 40 times and then follow up with a UV Transmittance test.

Q. What is the difference between UPF and SPF?

A. UPF is for fabrics and means Ultraviolet Protection Factor. SPF is for sunscreens and stands for Sun Protection Factor. One important difference is that UPF tests both UVA and UVB protection levels while SPF only tests UVB.

Q. How much UV protection does normal clothing provide?

A. There is quite a range. Studies in Australia and Germany, that we have replicated here in the US, show that a summer t-shirt may be made of fabric that only provides a UPF of 5 to 10. Another issue is that regular summer clothing is typically designed to show skin rather than cover it, so a lot of the exposure from normal clothing relates to how much skin it covers.

Q. Before a UPF rating is assigned to a garment, how is it tested?

A. It is normally tested on a machine called a spectrophotometer. It has a UV source inside it and sends the UV through the fabric sample. It measures how much UV is transmitted through the fabric. In addition to this test, at Coolibar we test fabrics when new, but more importantly, we also age fabrics by washing them 40 times and exposing them to 100 hours of sunlight, then we do the UPF test again. We want to see fabrics provide UPF 50+ at the end of their life cycle. At Coolibar we guarantee that every garment we sell is as UV Protective on the first day it is worn to the very last day.

Q. How many times can the garments be washed before losing the protective ingredients?

A. Most clothes gradually lose their UV protection over time as they are worn, washed, stretched, and so on. When we are testing fabrics, we want to make sure they are providing UPF 50+ after 40 washings (which we consider to be a typical life cycle). So they will start even more protective than UPF 50+ and still be UPF 50+ a few years later.

Q. Is sun protective clothing superior to sunscreen? How would the use of each by itself compare?

A. We think you need to use a combination of clothing and sunscreen. Clothing provides more reliable protection and is easier to use, but sunscreen is necessary for areas like your face, hands, feet, and so on that aren’t covered by clothes.

Q. In your opinion, what are the top 3 items of sun protective clothing that EVERYONE should own?

A. In my traveling wardrobe, I have a packable bucket hat, a long-sleeve polo, and some sunglasses. So those are the 3 that I take literally everywhere with me.

Q. Do you need to wear sunscreen underneath the Coolibar clothing?

A. No, you will be well protected by the clothes themselves. You still need sunscreen for other areas, like your face, that are not covered by our clothes.

Q. Also, is it only good for a certain time? Like how you have to reapply sunscreen every 2 hours?

A. You can wear our clothes all day in the sun and the protection does not diminish. With sunscreen you do need to reapply every 2 hours.

Q. As I student, I like to dress with the trends, stay fashionable, etc. Is your company looking at broadening the styles available of UPF clothing to reach the demographic that is both concerned about protecting their skin while staying current?

A. Yes we are looking to expand our fashion portfolio as we grow.

Q. What color keeps you the coolest in the sun?

A. In general, most people feel that lighter colors make them feel cooler. However, there is probably a lot more difference between fabrics (weight, weave, wicking, etc) than between colors. We generally try to use very light-weight fabrics that also have special properties to help you feel comfortable in hot weather, e.g. wicking moisture off your skin.

Q. I have lupus but live in the deep south where it is full on sun for 10 months out of the year. I also have 2 young children that are complete water babies. I need something that allows me to be out by the pool or at the beach that will protect me and keep me cool. It is very hot and humid here, and of course even hotter by the pool. I can’t just be an invert with my boys.

A. We design our garments with the idea that you will be in the hot sun when you wear them, so breathability is very important for comfort. We offer several items like our ZnO Beach Pants and Largo ZnO Cover-up that can give you a head to toe coordinated look with full sun protective coverage.

Q. Can I wear non-swimwear products (like the featherweight cover up) in the water and still have 50 UPF protection? Will wearing non swimwear items in the water damage the item?

A. In general, you could wear them in the water without damaging them. However, UV does transmit through water better than through air so when garments get wet they let more UV through than when they are dry. We are considering this when we make items designed to go in the water. Finally, in pools, the chlorine can damage clothes if you were to wear them consistently over time. So I would not recommend wearing non-swimwear in heavily chlorinated water over an extended time.

Q. What is the best way to care for the clothing?

A. Follow the care instructions sewn inside each garment.

Q. Can they go in the dryer?

A. Yes. I put all my Coolibar clothes in the dryer.

Q. I’m thinking about buying a long sleeve swim shirt, but wouldn’t long sleeves make me hot and uncomfortable in the summer?

A. Many of our customers are surprised how cool they are wearing our long-sleeved garments. It’s because they are very light-weight fabrics and are designed to keep you cool.

If you have additional questions regarding Coolibar Sun Protective Clothing, let us know by posting a question on Facebook or writing a comment below. To purchase Coolibar Sun Protective Clothing, visit

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  • Kathy Clawson

    What do women typically wear as an undergarment (bra) under their Coolibar swim shirts? Do they wear a regular bra they would wear under their regular clothes – how does that affect the bra if they go into the swimming pool (chlorine) and/or ocean (salt water)??

    • aoberg

      We suggest a sports bra or a swimming suit top. Thank you for asking Kathy!

  • Paula

    Do the liteSuntect and ZnO Suntect contain any other
    sun screen chemicals besides zinc oxide and titanium
    dioxide? I’m sensitive to chemicals, but I can tolerate
    those two.


    • jannett

      Great question! No, there are no additional sunscreen ingredients in those, or any, of the Coolibar fabrics. Our SUNTECT fabrics are safe for extremely sensitive skin.

  • JDRN

    If you wear a bra or swim suit top, does it make swimming feel like your clothes?

  • JDRN

    Sorry, does it feel like you are swimming with clothes on?

    • aoberg

      Hi JDRN,

      It may feel a little different than swimming in a regular swimsuit, but the material is exceptionally lightweight and dries extremely fast when out of the water. If you’re looking for a tighter fit with less resistance in water, we would recommend ordering a size down as Coolibar clothing is true to size. We have many customers who wear our swim shirts to swimming classes and absolutely love them! If you have any further questions, please feel free to call Coolibar customer service at 1.800.926.6509. They’re experts at helping you find a product that will work for your specific needs.

      Thanks for commenting!


  • BAJohnson

    Can you expand the color palette? Most of your colors are suitable for cool skin tones, with only a few colors for warmer skin tones. And most of the styles I like only have a few colors available.

    • aoberg

      What specific colors are you interested in?

  • Jane Anderson

    Will the white swim shirts turn slightly transparent when wet?

    • aoberg

      Hi Jane,

      They are not transparent; howver, you’ll want to wear something underneath such as a sports bra or swimsuit top. Please let me know if you have any further questions.


  • Christine

    Hi there I am looking to get my fiance a couple of shirts. We live in Texas and he works doing air conditioning so he is out on roofs in the extreme heat for 8 hours a day. He has a long sleeved work shirt he is required to wear so I was wondering which shirt would be ideal to wear underneath his uniform? Also, I read they are lightweight, do they have any sort of cooling features or are they like regular shirts? Thank you for your time!

    • aoberg

      Hi Christine,
      I’d be happy to help you find something that will work for your fiance. If he wears a button down long sleeve, you might consider one of our ZnO T Shirts to go underneath: Long Sleeve ZnO T-Shirt: or the Short Sleeve ZnO T-Shirt with removable sleeves: They keep you cooler because the embedded zinc oxide prevents the sun’s rays from coming in direct contact with your skin. I’d recommend trying one and giving it a test. Sun protection is a must for outdoor workers! 🙂 Please let me know if you have any further questions.

  • Dee

    Can you dry clean the shirts?

    • aoberg

      Hi Dee,
      We would recommend cleaning as instructed on the tag (typically machine wash, tumble or line dry depending on the fabric). If you provide us with the specific item name/number, we can look into it further. -Amanda

  • Allen Hay

    If regular clothing is worn under or over sun protective clothing, will the sun protective clothing still be effective?

    • aoberg

      Hi Allen,
      Good question. Yes, the clothing will be protective if you decide to layer it.
      Please let us know if you have any further questions.

  • LJ

    Can I save to buy swim shirt and use it in swimming and also biking at the same time for the sum protection? You have mentioned the other way around may ruin the sun protective shirt by the pool chlorine. How about buy swim shirt and pants but use it in both water and non-water activities?

    • jannett

      Hi LJ,
      Yes, you can wear our swim items for biking or any other activity and continue to have full UPF 50+ sun protection. In fact, many our our Coolibar Athletes do just that.
      Jennifer at Coolibar

  • Kris

    I would like to sew darts into my Coolibar shirt for a better fit. What kind of thread would your recommend?

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