The sun-protection properties of a woven or knit fabric are dependent
upon the transmission, absorption, and reflection of UV radiation. The
fiber type, dye, construction, and finish determine these
Some facts you may not have known about UPF Clothing:
- What is sun protective clothing?
Sun protective clothing is clothing specifically designed for sun
protection by covering a maximum amount of skin and being made from a
fabric rated for its level of ultraviolet or UV protection.
- Why do I need sun protective clothing?
Research has shown that sun protective clothing is one of the most
effective ways to protect against skin cancer. According to the
National Cancer Institute, it is the most common form of cancer in the
United States. More than one million cases of skin cancer are diagnosed
annually with over 90 percent attributed to sun exposure.
- What are the risks of overexposure to the sun?
Skin cancer is still a great risk to you, even if you don't consider
yourself a sun worshipper. The Skin Cancer Foundation states that a
person's risk for skin cancer doubles if they have had five or more
sunburns. Additionally, one blistering sunburn during childhood more
than doubles a person's chance of developing melanoma, the most serious
form of skin cancer, later in life. Men over age 40 spend the most time
outdoors and have the highest annual exposure to ultraviolet radiation.
- Doesn't all summer clothing protect me from the sun?
No. Many consumers are surprised to learn that most regular summer
clothing actually provide less protection than a SPF 30 sunscreen (Gies
et al, 1998; Gambichler et al, 2001).
- What affects clothing's level of sun protectiveness?
Factors include the fabric's weave, color, weight, stretch, and
wetness, and also any UV absorbers that are added during manufacturing
to enhance UV protection levels.
- How is sun protective clothing rated?
In the U.S., the rating for sun protective clothing is called the
Ultraviolet Protection Factor or UPF. UPF is based on a series of test
standards: the key one being the American Association of Textile
Chemists and Colorists (AATCC) Test Method 183.
- What does the AATCC 183 test?
AATCC 183 tests the ratio of UV measured without the protection of
the fabric compared to with the protection of the fabric. For example,
if a fabric is rated UPF 30 then for every 30 units of UV that fall on
the fabric, only 1 passes through. So that fabric is blocking or
absorbing 29 out of 30 units of UV or 96.7% UV.
- Doesn't wearing just sunscreen protect me enough?
No. While the UPF rating for clothing is actually a very similar
concept to the SPF rating for sunscreen there are some differences. Sun
protective clothing keeps out more UV rays than sunscreen. A person
wearing a UPF 30 garment will be protected against 96.7‰ UV, whereas,
most people using a SPF 30 sunscreen don't apply enough sunscreen and
end up with significantly less protection. Not to mention that you don't
need to worry about reapplying.
Check out our blog articles on Sun Protection Clothing