Which cheap sun shirt is best?

Sunscreen isn’t enough to protect your skin from harmful UV rays. It’s easy to miss spots while applying, and there’s always the hassle of having to reapply every time you take a dip or sweat. 

Sun shirts are made from materials that reflect or absorb sun rays. While all clothing does this to some extent, sun shirts are UPF-rated to maximize sun protection. For an affordable UPF 50+ sun shirt, the Baleaf Long Sleeve Shirt is the top choice. 

What to know before you buy a cheap sun shirt

UPF rating

UPF stands for ultraviolet protection factor and indicates how much UV radiation can penetrate the sun shirt. For your safety, do not buy a shirt for UV protection unless it’s UPF-rated. Sun shirts range from UPF 15 to UPF 50+. 

  • UPF 15-24 offers good protection against 93.3%-95.9% of harmful UV rays. 
  • UPF 25-39 offers very good protection against 96%-97.4% of harmful UV rays. 
  • UPF 40-50+ offers excellent protection against 97.5%-98% or more of harmful UV rays. 

The higher the UPF rating, the more protection a sun shirt offers. 

Fabric 

Sun shirts are made of densely woven fibers that provide more sun protection than loosely woven ones. They can come in a variety of fabrics, including bamboo, cotton, silk, denim, canvas, wool or synthetic blends, such as polyester, nylon or Lycra. Inexpensive sun shirts are typically made of polyester. Many UPF-rated shirts are treated with chemicals or dyes that absorb UV rays and keep them from penetrating the fabric. 

Coverage

Adult sun shirts typically cover the entire torso and feature long sleeves. Most have crew necklines for moderate coverage. With its UPF protection, you don’t need to apply sunscreen on the areas a sun shirt covers. Keep in mind that you’ll still need to apply sunscreen to areas that the shirt doesn’t cover, especially your face. Do so 15 minutes before putting on your shirt and going out into the sun to be sure your sunscreen absorbs fully into the skin.

Size and fit

Adult sun shirts come in men’s and women’s sizes. Men’s sizes typically range from small to 4X, and women’s sizes from XS to 3X. You want a sun shirt to fit well but not too tightly. When a fabric stretches, its fibers pull apart and allow UV radiation to pass through. Pay special attention to the shoulder area, where a shirt can pull tight and sunlight hits directly. Some sun shirts may even add an extra layer of protection in the shoulder area. 

What to look for in a quality cheap sun shirt

Color 

In addition to the special fabric of a sun shirt, bright and dark colors absorb UV rays. They offer better protection than lighter shades. Keep this in mind when choosing a color of sun shirt. Sun shirts come in solid colors and patterns, depending on the brand.

Neckline

Sun shirts come in a variety of styles, mostly determined by the neckline. Fashion sun shirts for women may have a V-neck or plunging neckline. Both men’s and women’s styles come with a classic crew neck, which offers moderate coverage. A high neckline, or mock neck, can be found on rash guard style sun shirts. Zip necks are also available. 

Sleeves

Sun shirts come in long sleeves, three-quarter length sleeves and short sleeves. The longer the sleeve, the more sun protection a shirt offers. Some sleeves feature thumb loops, which allow you to extend the sleeve down over the hand. Long-sleeve styles can get hot in warm weather, so you may want to choose a shirt with air vents for airflow. 

How much you can expect to spend on a cheap sun shirt 

While sun shirts can cost up to $95, you can find affordable styles between $9-$19.

Cheap sun shirt FAQ

What’s the difference between a rash guard and a sun shirt? 

A. Rash guards are designed to be worn in the water for water sports, such as surfing, to prevent rashes and abrasions from the elements, including the sun. They are typically UPF-rated. Sun shirts aren’t specifically designed to be worn in the water unless indicated. 

How do I care for my sun shirt? 

A. Wash your sun shirt in cold water on a gentle or delicate cycle, or hand-wash it following the care instructions. We recommend air-drying your sun shirt out of direct sunlight. Never tumble-dry or iron a sun shirt because it can reduce the UPF rating. Always replace your shirt when it starts to look worn or if you can see through it when you hold it up to the light. 

What’s the best cheap sun shirt to buy?

Top cheap sun shirt

Baleaf Men's Long Sleeve Shirt UPF 50+

Baleaf Men’s Long Sleeve Shirt UPF 50+

What you need to know: This highly rated sun shirt offers excellent protection when playing or working outdoors. 

What you’ll love: The lightweight, quick-dry material keeps you dry while you sweat. This long-sleeved shirt will keep you cool on a hot day. It works better than sunscreen to keep easily sunburned skin protected.

What you should consider: The sizing is hit or miss. Some users find the shirt way too big, while it fits true to size for others. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top cheap sun shirt for the money

Baleaf Women's Long Sleeve Shirt UPF 50+

Baleaf Women’s Long Sleeve Shirt UPF 50+

What you need to know: The perfect cheap sun shirt that’ll keep you cool when it’s hot out. 

What you’ll love: It comes in many color options and two necklines: crew or zip. The material is soft, light and comfortable. The style is fitted but not overly so. The polyester material dries quickly when it gets wet. 

What you should consider: The flat-stitched seams don’t actually prevent chafing for some users as advertised. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Roadbox UPF 50+ Fishing Shirts Long Sleeve UV Sun Protection

Roadbox UPF 50+ Fishing Shirts Long Sleeve UV Sun Protection 

What you need to know: This lightweight sun shirt is ultra-soft and moisture-wicking. 

What you’ll love: The quick-dry technology keeps you comfortable and cool while working out or fishing in the sun. The material is lightweight and looks like more expensive name-brand sun shirts. The shirt may be even cooler than a short-sleeve shirt because of its excellent sun protection. 

What you should consider: The darker colors can bleed in the wash, and the white can stain easily. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

 

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Ana Sanchez writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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