What Is The “Best” Color To Reflect The Sun’s Heat?

Colors can help you with the battle of t protecting your skin from the sun.

What Is The “Best” Color To Reflect The Sun’s Heat is a question that keeps showing up.

To protect our skin from sun burn

We Know What Is The”Best” Color To Reflect The Sun’s Heat! White reflects better.

When you are going for skin protection, you need the sun reflected off your body. You don’t want the sun’s rays penetrating your clothing and reaching your skin.

So then I realize that I am not thinking this through. I am not seeing the overall picture.

When you are protecting yourself from the sun, black is the color. It soaks up the sun’s rays, so no reflection of the light will result in sun damage.

When I am reflecting the sun’s rays because I want to stay cool? I need white! White will stay cooler because none of the rays are absorbed. They are reflected.

So the question What Is The Best Color To Reflect The Sun has at least 2 correct answers!

The question is incomplete as it doesn’t explain why you want to reflect the sun’s rays.

Sometimes we think we know what is going on. Then we find we don’t!

Let’s Talk About Why You Should Wear Black In The Sun

Most summertime clothing ads feature white tops. white shoes, even some white pants, shorts, and skirts. You are led to believe that white is what you need for summertime fun while looking cool.

When you see white, you are seeing the combination of all possible visible light.

White clothing reflects the majority of wavelengths of energy coming in. So, it should reflect the sun’s rays. The bounced back rays can’t get to you. You are protected. Your skin won’t be turning red as the sun cooks it.

And that’s perfectly correct.

So what is wrong here?

This explanation is also incomplete.

The heat from the sun is not all that is reaching you. You are also getting heat from your sweating, warm-blooded body! And your body is a lot closer than the sun!

When your body’s heat is reflected towards your body, you will be warm! You will feel like you are cooking yourself. Sun beaming down on the outside. Body pushing heat out to cool itself? The white reflecting it to you?

Yes, there will be some excess heat.

Is White Or Black Better?

The best color to stay cool while in the summer heat? My choice is to wear black.

Black absorbs everything coming in from the sun, sure. But black also absorbs energy from the body instead of reflecting it. This can make you warm.

So, the helpfulness of black clothes depends on finding black clothes that are the same thickness and looseness as those summery white clothes.

When you wear black clothing, you are also going to need a little help.

Once the black clothing has absorbed heat, it has to have some way to radiate it away. With just a little breeze, black clothing is the better choice. If you want to stay cool, wear loose layers and pray for enough breeze to help move the body heat away.

Can I Wear Tight Black or White Clothes In The Sun?

When all your body heat hits the white clothing covering it, the heat gets reflected right back towards your body.

In climates where it is cooler in the summer, white could keep you more comfortable, by reflecting body heat to you.

Here in Central Texas, you will probably wilt quickly.

The best color to keep cool in the heat, it turns out, is black.

Black will absorb everything coming in from the sun, sure. But black also absorbs heat from your body instead of reflecting it. If you have loose clothing that allows air to get to your body, you will stay more comfortable.

Notice, we say loose-fitting black clothing. Tight clothes are just hotter period. When trying to stay cooler in the sun, avoid tight any color! Loose-fitting clothing will keep you more comfortable.

Unbrellas can protect you from the sun.

Do Sun Unbrellas Have To Be Black?

When planning your skin protection from the sun, consider an umbrella. This would be a good layer to add to your protection plan.

The Skin site encourages that we remember to seek shade. Umbrellas are a great way to add shade for your personal protection.

The best colors for umbrellas to protect you from the sun? Black on the inside and white on the top of the umbrella.

As the color black absorbs the sun’s rays, black should not be on the upside. You will get hotter with an all-black umbrella. This fact would make the all-black choice a good one if you live where it is really cold.

Which Colors Deflect The Sun?

White is the only color that does not attract heat. Since white objects reflect all visible wavelengths of light.

Black is the color that absorbs all visible wavelengths of light. This means that black attracts the most heat, followed by violet, indigo, blue, green, yellow, orange, and red, in descending order.

White and black are the two colors that will protect you the most, all things equal. Your decision? Do you need to stay warm? Or do you need to be able to cool off?

What Color FIY

The more light an object absorbs, the more heat will be absorbed, as well. Light is energy.

If you consider black a color, then black will absorb the most heat.

A black object absorbs all wavelengths of light. No wavelengths reflect away from that object.

While the white objects, on the other hand, reflect all wavelengths of light and therefore absorb the least heat.

Which color gets the hottest in the sunlight?


These same rules are responsible for causing red and blue to block the dangerous sun’s Ultra Violet or UV B rays. These are the ones that are responsible for early aging in your skin.

Yellow will reflect these rays around and allow more of them to return to your body.

The protection increased as the shades were made darker and more intense. And if the base protection level of the fabric was higher, then darker shades offered even greater improvement

Why Does It Matter About Color?

When light strikes a surface, some of its energy is reflected and some are absorbed.

The color a person sees means is determined by the wavelength of light being reflected.

White light contains all the wavelengths of the visible spectrum. When the color white is being reflected, that means all wavelengths are being reflected and none of them absorbed.

This makes white the most reflective color.

Just A Bit About Heat Being AbsorbedHeat Absorption

Darker-colored objects heat up faster in the sun than light-colored ones.

This explains why running across a strip of asphalt on your bare feet can feel much hotter than when you run across light-colored concrete.

The reason for this temperature difference is that darker colors absorb more of the different wavelengths of light energy.

While white or light-colored objects reflect the light of most wavelengths.

Heat energy obeys the same rules of conservation as light energy.

If a certain substance reflects most of the light wavelengths? More heat energy will be reflected as well.

Due to the nature of visual light, colors that reflect most wavelengths of light tend to be cooler than those that only reflect a few.

Understanding how this principle applies to different colors will help you to stay warmer or cooler, simply by wearing different colored clothes.

Dark colors, especially black, absorb more heat since they’ll absorb more light from the environment.

If you’re trying to stay cool, wear light colors, which absorb less heat.

Is Black Good To Wear In The Sun?

Some reminders about dark colors:

Dark colors absorb a lot more heat than lighter ones. The reason? Because they absorb more of the energy from light.

The closer to black your color is, the more heat it absorbs from light sources.

The key is that colors do not absorb different kinds of heat, only the heat from light.

When dark and light-colored clothes come out of a dryer, they will be the same temperature.

However, because light clothes reflect more light when a person is outside, the accompanying heat from the sun is reflected as well. They will feel cooler, quicker.

Since dark clothes reflect little solar light, they reflect little solar heat. This makes them hotter.

Darker colors, especially black, will absorb more heat since they’ll absorb more light from the environment.

If you’re trying to stay cool, wear light colors, which absorb less heat.

Warm OR Cool ?

To help you stay cool during the summer and keep warm during the winter, keep this rule of thumb in mind.

White, red, and yellow are best for the warmer months when you want to avoid attracting extra heat.

To stay more comfortable in those cooler months? Trade those same colors for blue, violet, or black. This will allow you to trap as much heat as possible.

Just another reason why you aren’t supposed to wear white after Labor Day.

Learn How To Protect Your Skin
Sami’s Take On What Is The “Best” Color To Reflect The Sun’s Heat?

Making yourself aware of the easy ways to protect your skin makes preventing skin cancer easier.

We all have some lessons to learn about being careful with our skin in the bright and dangerous sun.

Old habits and lifestyles will need to be reviewed and some new habits learned. Being careless will make our future with skin cancer an uphill battle.

If we can learn better sun safety habits and take better care of ourselves, we should be able to keep skin cancer having less of an impact on our years.

That is what I am working for, to be able to make the impact of skin cancer less of a problem for our younger family members.

Why are you interested in learning how to take better care of your skin? Are you sure you are doing all you can? Some changes are easy and will become automatic quickly.

Others will be more difficult and require more effort. It will produce a better result.

Adding the basics of color to your sun blocking toolbox will make your efforts even more productive.

2 replies on “What Is The “Best” Color To Reflect The Sun’s Heat?”

Heat propagates 3 ways:

Most heat transfer TO clothing FROM the sun is via radiation.
Most heat transfer TO/FROM clothing FROM/TO the body is by conduction.

The body is mostly in CONTACT with clothing – so the main method of heat transmission is CONDUCTIVE. That means that the RADIATIVE transmission FROM the body TO the clothing is minimal and the amount “reflected” is swamped out by conduction.

Don’t believe me?
Get two pieces of aluminum. Paint one black and one white. Let them sit out in the sun for a couple hours. Now go put one hand against the back of the black panel and one hand against the back of the white panel. See which one makes you scream.

Thank you, Bambi, for taking the time to comment on this article.
Also thank you for sharing your knowledge of how the heat works from the sun’s rays.
This is why the fit of a garment is so important. Wearing skin-tight clothing or clothing that touches the skin all over, stops the cooling of our bodies from the sun’s energy.

The air must have room to move away from the body. Long sleeve shirts of tightly woven fabric that fit loosely will be the most comfortable.
The direct sun rays on our bare skin will soon result in sunburn. We must cover ourselves.
Darker colors absorb more of the sun’s energy and will keep your skin safer. Some protection between your skin and the sun is better than no protection.

Always cover your skin. Please note that a sun-safe lifestyle is important as well.
Thank you,

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