All You Need to Know about UV Protective Clothing
The harmful effects of the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays has been well established in many studies. Exposure to UV leads to skin aging and it is the leading cause of skin cancer. In order to prevent sun damage now and in the future, sun protection is necessary. One of the preferred methods is sun protective clothing, which blocks or absorbs UV radiation. Highly effective in offering protection against sun damage, sun protection clothing is perhaps the easiest way to stay safe.
Understanding Sun Protective Clothing and UPF
Sun protective clothing is a type of clothing that is made from ultraviolet (UV) blocking fabric. It is a specialized fabric that comes with an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) rating. This rating indicates how UV, including both UVB and UVA, can pass through a fabric to reach the skin. For instance, a fabric with UPF50 rating blocks 98% of the sun’s rays and allows just 2% to penetrate through, lowering your UV exposure risk remarkably.
- UPF 15 or 20 – Okay
- UPF 25, 30, or 35 – Good
- UPF 40, 50, or above – Excellent
Difference between UPF and SPF
UPF refers to the amount of UV rays that can penetrate through a type of fabric to reach your skin. Whereas, Sun Protection Factor (SPF) tells the time it takes for the skin to redden when exposed to UV radiation. If you get burned after 15 minutes, an SPF 15 sunscreen can safeguard your skin for a duration 15 times longer, though it is important to remember this is a rough estimate that depends on your skin type, intensity of sunlight and amount of sunscreen used.
Things to Consider When Buying Sunscreen Clothing
In general, clothing protects against the sun, but not all colors and fabrics offer the same level of protection. To shield your skin against sun damage, keep the following factors in mind when shopping for clothing:
Dark colored clothing prevents the sun’s UV rays from reaching your skin, instead of allowing it to pass through they adsorb these rays. This means, these darker shades can offer better sun protection than lighter colors.
Clothes like wool, canvas, and denim are densely woven, and can offer more protection than thin and loosely-woven garments. You can check sun safety of any fabric, simply by holding it against the light. If you can easily see through, it means UV rays can penetrate the fabric to reach the skin.
The fabric of your clothing matters when it comes to sun protection. For example, unbleached cotton comprises lignin that can absorb UV radiation. Likewise, glazy polyesters and lightweight satin-like silks offer high level of sun protection as they can reflect UV radiation. Advanced fabrics, treated with UV absorbing agents, also prevent UV rays from penetrate the fabric and reach the skin.
Lose-fit garments are more effective. Reason being, tight clothes can stretch, which lowers the degree of protection. Stretched fibers have more space between them, which can allow more UV rays to pass through them.
Many sun protective clothing companies manufacture apparel with UPF labels to indicate exactly how much sun’s rays the clothing can shield against.
The more skin the clothing covers, the more protected you will be. Always opt for wearing long-sleeve shirts, and long pants or skirts.
If the garment you wear gets wet or stretched, it will lose some of its ability to protect you from the sun. The garment may become more transparent, making your skin more exposed to UV radiation. So, when you are swimming or engaged in some outdoor activity, take extra care to protect your skin.