What Factors Affect The Level Of UV Protective Clothing?

Posted by ecostinger on 28th Feb 2016

Proper protective clothing is the main line of protection against the harmful UV rays from the sun. Clothing blocks or absorbs the sun’s radiation so that they do not land on your skin. To increase your protection levels, you need to cover more skin. Shirts with long sleeves are able to cover more skin as opposed to short-sleeved shirts or T-shirts for that matter. Similarly, shirts that have high necklines or collars that can shield the back of your neck are the best compared to shirts with low necklines. The same case applies to long pants. They protect more of your skin compared to shorts.

For complete sun protection, the Foundation for Skin Cancer recommends covering your skin with proper clothes, including a hat that is broad-brimmed and a UV-blocking sunglass.

Factors Affecting the Level of UV Protection Clothing

Some of the factors that may affect how clothing protect you from the sun include color, weave, wetness, stretch and weight. The denser or the less open the fabric is, the better UV protection. For maximum protection against the harmful sun rays, you should always consider keeping your fabric dry. A wet fabric has the tendency of reducing the protection by approximately a half. Some fabric however may get extra protective when wet. Such include viscose and silk. Polyester is known to contain a component known as the benzene ring. This component absorbs sun rays. To enhance fabric protection, the benzene ring may be added to cloths at some stage during manufacturing.


Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) is used to indicate the fraction of the UV rays from the sun that can penetrate a fabric. It represents the percentage of UV rays that can reach the skin with and without protection from clothing. For example, a long sleeved shirt that has a UPF of say 50 can only allow 1/50th UV radiation from the sun to the skin.

The Difference Between SPF and UPF

UPF is a rating that is mostly used in clothing among other fabrics that offer protection from UV rays. It is used to estimate the amount of UVB and UVA radiation that is able to go past the fabric and reach your skin. UPF is commonly measured using a spectroradiometer or spectrophotometer and a light source that is provided artificially. Consequently, sunburn is applied across the related UV wavelengths.

As for Sun Protection Factor (SPF), it is a sunscreens rating or any other cosmetic product containing sunscreen for that matter. SPF is used to find out the duration of time a particular person can stay under the UV rays for their skin to start reddening. The only importance of SPF is to determine the ability of a sunscreen to protect a person from UVB rays. Both SPF and UPF are used to determine the ability of a product to offer protection against sunburn.

Protecting the Eyes Against UV Radiation

A short term UV radiation exposure to the eyes is likely to develop a problem known as photokeratitis. This condition is painful and includes symptoms such as a gritty eye feeling, extreme sensitivity, red eyes, light sensitivity, and excessive tearing. This condition is temporal and does not cause permanent eye damage. A long term UV radiation exposure can be dangerous. Recent scientific studies reveal that repeated short term UV radiations exposure may cause damages to the retina and may increase the possibility of eye cataract. In addition, high exposure of violet and blue light may bring about retina damage.

To receive maximum sunlight protection, it is important to purchase protective sunglasses. Your ideal sunglasses should be able to block about 99-100% of both UV-B and UV-A radiation. The sunglass should be able to screen out approximately 75-90% light and it should have gray lenses for effective color recognition. If you participate in sports or in any eye hazardous activities, it is important to have sunglasses made from polycarbonate. This material provides the most resistance upon impact. If you are the type that spends most of your time outdoors where there is bright sunlight, consider going for sunglasses that have wrap around frames. These frames provide extra protection from UV radiations.

How to Choose the Right Hat

Consider purchasing a wide-brimmed hat ideally 3 inches or more. This hat has the ability to cover most parts of your head including the scalp, the back of your neck and the tops of your ears. Bear in mind that it is always hard or we may forget to apply sunscreen on these areas. Therefore, a proper hat a proper hat may come handy.


UV radiation exposure may seem to have adverse effects on the skin. However, adoption of sunlight protection mechanisms will lead to optimal outcomes regarding protection against UV rays. Consider covering most of your skin to reduce the surface area exposed to UV rays. Long sleeved shirts and long pants are recommended. For maximum protection, consider looking for a wide brimmed hat and sunglasses.