5 colors that repel heat to keep you cool this summer

A woman trying to keep cool in front of an electric fan
A woman trying to keep cool in front of an electric fan (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Everybody loves the sunshine, and we all want to get outdoors and enjoy hot weather (while it lasts). However, it can become increasingly difficult to keep cool in a heatwave, — especially if you’re dripping with sweat and want to look your best.

Luckily, there is a simple solution, and it’s all down to the colors in your wardrobe. And while there’s been much debate on how accurate this theory is, science has spoken! 

According to a recent study, there are certain colors that will repel heat and keep you cool during periods of extreme heat. In fact, these colors can make a significant difference — of about 20 degrees. Which is more practical than buying a hand-held fan! 

The study, led by Japanese researcher Toshiaki Ichinose of the National Institute for Environmental Studies, involved an experiment to determine which are the best colors that keep the body cool in hot weather. For this, the team set up polo shirts on mannequins in nine colors, and exposed them to the sun outside. They used a thermographic camera to measure how hot the shirts got in around five minutes, taking the surface temperature for each color. The colors that stayed the coolest were rated the best colors to wear for long periods of heat.

So, if you want a ‘no sweat’ summer, find out what are the colors that repel heat to keep you cool this summer.

You might also want to check out these 7 essential tips to keep cool in a heatwave.  

1. White 

Woman wearing a white top outside

Woman wearing a white top outside (Image credit: Shutterstock)

It’s no surprise white came up as the color that stayed the coolest from the results. Temperature readings showed the surfaces of the white shirts wavered around 86 degrees Fahrenheit, which is considerably low compared to the 122 degrees Fahrenheit of the dark green shirts. 

Typically, a white object is known to reflect white light, rather than absorb heat. Essentially, this means that wearing a white shirt, pants or a dress will repel heat and keep the body cool. In addition, the color white is often associated with calm, serenity and to lift your moods — so when worn to work this should help with focus and productivity.  

2. Yellow 

Man wearing a yellow top

Man wearing a yellow top (Image credit: Shutterstock)

White was closely followed by yellow — and again, results were a cool, 86 degrees Fahrenheit. This bright color works well to reflect most of the visible wavelengths which, in turn, absorbs less heat. 

What’s more, yellow is considered the “happiest” tone in the color spectrum, so you’re bound to have plenty of summer cheer and fun! Similarly, orange hues are known to absorb less heat making these colors the ideal, summer choice. 

3. Gray 

Man in gray top

Man in gray top (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Gray is another color that has a relatively high reflectance, but this also depends on how light or dark/dull it is. Typically, the lighter gray tones will reflect more light, and will keep your body cool under the sun. 

Similar to yellow, gray is known to reflect about 90 to 95% of available light and heat, which also makes a great alternative to white. Plus, gray tones have become a popular, contemporary color for home interiors.  

4. Red 

Woman in red top

Woman in red top (Image credit: Shutterstock)

This might come as a surprise but red rated as one of the ‘cool’ colors, despite its hot tone. In fact, red has been shown to reflect more sunlight than other darker tones, and keep the body cool. Best of all, you’re less likely to overheat when wearing a red shirt, outfit or summer dress. 

In addition, red is associated with warmth, happiness, celebration, energy and excitement — which are all uplifting for those summer gatherings or barbecues.  

5. Purple 

Man in purple shirt

Man in purple shirt (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Don’t underestimate the color purple, as it came in the middle of the ‘cool’ ranking during tests. In fact, lighter purple hues are becoming more popular for summer wear, and should keep you comfortable in a heatwave. 

So whether it’s a lavender shirt, t-shirt or summer dress, these can be worn in style during hot weather — and keep you cool. 

Colors to avoid wearing in the heat

Black is known to absorb heat, so best avoided wearing during a heatwave. In fact, black absorbed 86% of the infrared that struck it during the tests, compared to the white polo shirt at only 63%. 

Other darker colors to avoid wearing include blue, light green, and dark green. These tend to generate more thermal energy when exposed to intense sunlight. 

On the flip side, you can always bring out these colors to wear in the colder months if you want to keep warm and cozy!

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Cynthia Lawrence
Content Editor, Homes

As the Homes Content Editor, Cynthia Lawrence covers all things homes, interior decorating, and garden-related. She has a wealth of editorial experience testing the latest, ‘must-have’ home appliances, writing buying guides and the handy ‘how to’ features. 

Her work has been published in various titles including, T3, Top Ten Reviews, Ideal Home, Real Homes, Livingetc. and House Beautiful, amongst many.

With a rather unhealthy obsession for all things homes and interiors, she also has an interior design blog for style inspiration and savvy storage solutions (get rid of that clutter!). When she’s not testing cool products, she’ll be searching online for more decor ideas to spruce up her family home or looking for a great bargain!