So how does UPF differ from SPF?
UPF measures the amount of UV radiation that can penetrate fabric and reach your skin. Sun Protection Factor, or SPF, is based on the time it takes for UV-exposed skin to burn or start to go red. If you burn after 30 minutes, and if sunscreen is used correctly. A SPF 15 lotion may protect your skin 15 times longer or up to 7.5 hours. This time depends on factors like how water resistant the sunscreen is. Also contact with materials that may remove some of the lotion and even perspiration.
Another important distinction: UPF measures both UVB and UVA rays, while SPF measures only UVB.
UPF: What it is and why it matters
Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) indicates how much UV radiation (both UVB and UVA) a fabric allows to reach your skin. For example, a UPF 50 fabric blocks 98 percent of the sun’s rays and allows two percent (1/50th) to penetrate. This reduces your exposure risk significantly. Our UPF protective clothing is rated between 38 and 40. This means that our UPF clothing blocks between 76 and 80 percent of the suns rays.
What you need to know: For a fabric to qualify for The Skin Cancer Foundation’s Seal of Recommendation it must have a UPF of at least 30. Anything between 30 and 49 offers very good protection, while UPF 50+ rates as excellent. Other Skin Cancer Foundations around the world have similar requirements.
What makes clothing sun safe?
Your clothing does shield you from the sun. However not all fabrics and colors can or do provide the same level of protection. There are some things to keep in mind when shopping for clothing that can effectively shield you from harmful rays. So keep these factors in mind:
Colors: Both Dark and bright colors help to keep UV rays from reaching your skin by absorbing them rather than allowing them to penetrate. That’s why these colors offer better protection than lighter shades, like whites or pale colors.
Construction: Densely woven or heavy cloth, like denim, canvas, or wool are will offer more protective than sheer, thin or loosely woven items. Do the light test if you can, simply by holding it up to the light. If you can see through, UV radiation can easily penetrate the fabric and reach your skin.
Content: The the composition and type of material does make a difference. Unbleached cotton will still contain natural lignins that act as UV absorbers. Shiny polyesters and even lightweight shiny or satin silks can be highly protective, they reflect radiation. Then of course High-tech fabrics treated with chemical UV absorbers or dyes prevent some penetration from UV rays.
Fit: Loose-fitting clothing is often the better choice. Tight clothing can stretch and reduce the level of protection, when the fibers pull away from each other and allow more UV light to pass through.
UPF: Some clothing makers provide UPF labels, which indicate exactly how much of the sun’s rays the garment can shield. Of course our rash vests and other items offer UPF
Coverage: Of course the more skin your outfit covers, the better your protection. If you are going to be int he sun for the duration of the day, choose long-sleeved shirts and long pants or skirts. and don’t forget sunscreen. Try to find eco friendly sunscreens if possible to help protect our reefs and sea life.
Activity: If your clothing gets stretched but to wear and tear, it will lose some of its protective ability and become more transparent, exposing your skin to more UV light. This is also a temporary factor when the clothing is wet. No matter the UPF level there will be a small reduction in protection.