SPF Versus UPF: What Is the Difference?

Discover the key differences between UPF and SPF on the UV Skinz's blog, including why we use UPF to rate a fabric's sun protective abilities and SPF to rate sunscreen's ability to protect you from UV rays.
sun's rays


If you're wondering what the differences are between SPF and UPF ratings, you're not alone. Just take a look at Google when searching for "spf clothing" and you'll start to see the confusion. The differences between SPF and UPF are that SPF measures how effective sunscreen is at protecting you from the sun's UV rays and UPF measures how effective fabric is at protecting you from the sun's UV rays. 

Today, we go over the key differences between SPF and UPF and why SPF and UPF should both be taken into consideration when it comes to safe sun protection practices, 

What Is SPF and How Is it Different Than UPF?

SPF stands for "sun protection factor" and UPF stands for "ultraviolet protection factor". SPF measures the effectiveness of sunscreen whereas UPF measures the effectiveness of fabrics (think clothing) when it comes to sun protection. 

Do SPF and UPF Ratings Have Anything in Common?

SPF and UPF are both rated on a range of 1 to 50+, with 50+ providing the most sun protection. Both are used to measure protection against UV rays. 

    What Is UPF Clothing?

    UPF clothing protects you from the harmful effects of the sun's UV rays, as such its fabric is thicker. UPF clothing is often used by people who spend a lot of time outdoors, or by people who are particularly sensitive to the sun, but the truth is we should all wear sun protective clothing if we spend a good amount of time outside. 

    What Are the Benefits of UPF Clothing?

    Here are some of the best benefits of UPF clothing:

    • Blocks out the sun's harmful rays keeping you safe from sunburns. 
    • Protects you from skin damage, such as melasma and sun spots. 
    • Keeps your skin safe from getting skin cancer and melanoma.

    Is SPF Better Than UPF?

    SPF and UPF work together to provide best-in-class sun protection. One is not better than the other. UPF is often preferred as when wearing UPF clothing you don't need to wear sunscreen. However, you can wear both UPF clothes and SPF sunscreen to keep yourself as protected as possible from the sun. 

    Frequently Asked Questions About SPF and UPF Differences

    Can You Apply SPF Sunscreen Under UPF clothing?

    Yes, you can apply sunscreen under UPF clothing if you'd like, but this isn't necessary. Unless you're wearing UPF clothing that doesn't cover much, like a UPF swim bra, you don't need to wear sunscreen under your UPF clothing. 

    How Do You Choose UPF Clothing?

    When choosing UPF clothing, look for items that are labeled with a UPF rating of 50+. The higher the UPF, the better the protection. Also, look for clothing that is loose-fitting and made of breathable materials. This will help keep you cool and comfortable in the sun.

    Be sure to browse UV Skinz's collection of UPF clothing for the entire family to stay sun-safe all year long.