How Does UPF Protective Clothing Work?

Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) first became popularized in 1992, when an Australian laboratory began to develop regulations surrounding UV protective textiles. As skin cancer awareness has increased, so has a need for additional sun protection strategies. Companies like UV Skinz have joined the UPF movement with the hope of raising awareness and decreasing skin cancer.

UPF vs. SPF

Skincancer.org clarifies the difference between UPF and SPF. They describe UPF as “how much of the sun’s rays the garment can shield”. They also inform consumers that in order to receive The Skin Cancer Foundation’s Seal of Recommendation, a fabric has to have a UPF of 30, and they consider UPF 50+ as “excellent” because it blocks 98% of the sun’s UVA and UVB rays.

In contrast, SPF (sun protection factor), described by the FDA, is the amount of UV radiation it would take to produce a sunburn. So, the greater the SPF, the more UV radiation would be needed to create a sunburn. This is why dermatologists recommend daily use of at least SPF 30. SPF is a measurement of UVB rays, while UPF considers both UVA and UVB rays.

More Than Just Normal Clothes

You might be wondering: isn’t all clothing enough to cover some of the sun’s rays? It’s true that some cultures in warm climates have been using clothing as sun protection for generations.

While it’s better than nothing, the UPF of a typical cotton shirt is between 5 and 10. Synthetic, tight-knight, and fitted material is the most protective. However, it’s not always comfortable on a hot day. UPF textiles may feature natural or synthetic fibers, or even embedded nanoparticles of sun-protective materials.

Materials may include:

  • Bamboo viscose
  • Cotton viscose
  • Lycra
  • Polyester
  • Proprietary and/or patented materials

On the UV Skinz website, you can check out the “Fabric Details” section of any product for a detailed description of the UPF protective material used. Some of the UV Skinz UPF materials double as being eco-friendly, anti-bacterial, and odor-resistant.

Optimize Your Sun Protection

With sun protection, a multifaceted protective strategy is the most effective way to avoid sun damage and UV-related aging. This includes prevention, UPF, and SPF.

Prevention strategy includes:

  • Avoiding being outside during peak hours (10 am - 4 pm)
  • Seeking shade whenever possible
  • Wearing sunglasses

SPF strategy includes:

  • Wearing sunscreen on the face, neck, and upper chest
  • Wearing sunscreen on any exposed parts of the skin
  • Reapplying sunscreen at least every 2 hours

UPF strategy includes:

  • Wearing UPF clothing to cover the body
  • Wearing a hat to cover the edges of the face and the hair’s part line
  • Wearing socks and shoes when reasonable for the activity

The Bottom Line

In addition to lifestyle factors, UPF clothing is an effective way to protect yourself from UV radiation and premature aging.

Check out UPF 50+ clothing at UV Skinz, and make sure to check out the UPF material details. You may be surprised by some of the added benefits.