Sun Protection (UPF) Fabric
Choosing fabrics designed and certified as Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) will help control the levels of UV exposure and reduce the risk of potentially damaging effects.
What is a UPF Rating?
UPF is the rating system used for fabric. We commonly know SPF (Sun Protection Factor), the rating system used for sunscreen. SPF looks at the sunscreen’s effectiveness against UVB rays, which are considered to be the more damaging type of light. Contrastly, UPF gauges the effectiveness in which fabric protects against both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) light.
When shopping for fabric, it’s simple: the higher the UPF rating, the better sun protection, as you can see in the table below. A UPF rating of 15 means that this fabric allows 1/15th (roughly 6.7 percent) of UV radiation to pass through it. Any fabric that allows less than 2 percent UV transmission is rated UPF 50+.
|UPF Rating||Protection Category||Effective UV Transmission (%)|
|25, 30, 35||Very Good||4.1-2.6|
|40, 45, 50, 50+||Excellent||Less than 2.5|
What Enhances UPF Ratings:
- Construction: Tight construction minimizes UV light that is able to pass through. Thicker fabrics also reduce UV transmission.
- Color: Generally, darker colors absorb more rays overall, including UV rays.
- Treatments: Fabric treatments and dyes are effective at enhancing UPF.
- Fiber type: Our common fibers, Polyester and Nylon, do the job! Polyester does excellent at disrupting UV light, as does nylon.
What Reduces UPF Ratings:
- Fabric wetness: Wetness can cause a significant reduction in a fabric’s UPF rating. However, some studies suggest that polyester may actually protect slightly better when wet! So your rashguard will hold up in the water!
- Fabric wear: As fabric becomes worn or fades with more uses, it also becomes less effective at blocking UV light.
- Fabric stretch: Stretched fabric can lose a significant amount of its UPF, so considering replacing that is too tightly stretched when wearing it.
Sun Protection Beyond UPF Clothing
- Wear UV-protective clothing
- Apply sunscreen with a high SPF rating to all exposed areas of skin
- Wear 100% UV-ray protection sunglasses
- Seek shade whenever possible
- Monitor the amount of time you expose yourself to UV radiation
- Remember to protect yourself on cloudy days, it can still damage the skin
Taking these precautions alongside wearing UPF clothing makes it easier to soak up the fun when you’re having fun in the outdoors!