By now most of you probably have heard of sun protection clothing or seen an UPF rating on a clothing tag. A lot of you may have wondered what exactly is it and how does it work? This article will provide you with an insight into what sun protective clothing is and how it can be beneficial to you.
Sunlight contains rays of invisible ultraviolet radiation. Overexposure to these rays can cause sunburns, accelerate the skin aging cycle, and cause skin cancer. The purpose of sun protective clothing is to provide your skin with a higher level of protection from UV radiation than is provided by regular clothing. Not all sun protective clothing provides you with the same level of protection. Each item is given a UPF rating that measures it effectiveness for UV protection. UPF stands for ultraviolet protection factor. The higher the rating the more protection provided, similar to SPF ratings for sunscreens.
One of the main factors in how effective a piece of clothing is at protecting you from the sun is what kind of fabric it is made from. All clothing fabrics disrupt UV radiation but some do a much better job than others. For example, polyester does an excellent job of disrupting UV light. Nylon is also very effective. Some fabrics that are only moderately effective are silk and wool. Cotton, nylon, and hemp typically do not score well at blocking UV radiation.
Another important element influencing a garments UPF rating is how the fabric was constructed. The more dense and tight the weaves or knits are constructed the less space exists between the yarn for light to penetrate through. The thickness of the fabric also plays a role in how much UV radiation the product will potentially let pass through. The thicker the fabric the less UV light it will let in.
The type of dye used to manufacture a piece of clothing is the last factor influencing UPF rating that we will discuss. Some types of dyes deflect more UV radiation than other types. Some dyes absorb no UV light at all. Clothing engineered to be sun protective may use high concentration of these premium dyes to produce products that are effective at blocking UV rays.
Benefits of Sun Protective Clothing
Now that you know a little about how sun protective clothing works, let discuss the benefits of wearing it. Wearing sun protection products is one of the best ways to reduce your risk of being diagnosed with skin cancer. If you are fair skinned or have a family history of skin cancer you need to be especially careful and make sure you always have on a layer of protection when outdoors. Sun protective clothing allows you to do that without having to worry about re-applying sunscreen throughout the day. Ultimately it provides you with the peace of mind that you are keeping yourself protected from the potentially harmfully effects of the sun's UV radiation and you are greatly reducing your risk of ever having to deal with skin cancer.