Why Sun Protective (UPF) Clothing is Important
Whether you’re working in the sun on occasion or for your full workday, protection from the sun’s harmful UV rays is extremely important. Sun protective or UPF protective clothing and workwear keeps UV radiation from hitting your skin, helping protect it from sunburn and the after-effects of prolonged sun exposure like premature wrinkles, sun spots, or cancer.
Continue reading for information on how UPF protective clothing protects your skin:
What is UPF protection?
UPF or Ultraviolet Protection Factor details how much protection from ultraviolet light is provided by a certain fabric or article of clothing. Each sun-protective garment has a UPF rating that indicates just how much UV radiation can penetrate its fabric and reach your skin.
UPF vs SPF
The main difference between SPF and UPF is the kinds of UV radiation they measure protection against. SPF measures protection against the more harmful UVB rays but leaves out UVA rays. UPF, on the other hand, measures protection against both UVA and UVB rays to offer comprehensive shielding from the sun’s harmful rays.
How much sun protection does UPF provide?
Sun protection from clothing and workwear can vary depending on things like the type of fabric used or the color. To minimize confusion, a rating system called UPF is used to determine the sun-protective capabilities of an article of clothing and label it with a number based on those capabilities. For example, clothing with a UPF rating of 50 only allows about 1/50th, or 2%, of the sun’s ultraviolet rays to hit your skin while clothing with a UPF rating of 25 allows about 1/25th or 4% through.
• Good Protection: UPF 15-20
• Great Protection: UPF 25-35
• Excellent Protection: UPF 40-50+
What to look for in sun protective clothing and workwear
So, if you’re looking for the most sun protection, you should be fine if you buy the work shirt with the highest UPF rating, right? Wrong. While the UPF rating tells you how much protection is offered by the fabric used, actual sun protection performance is affected by many things including the type of fabric, coverage, fit and more.
Here’s what you should look for in sun-protective clothing and workwear, regardless of its UPF rating:
• Densely-woven fibers: Whether it be denim, canvas, wool, or a synthetic blend, the fabric of your sun-protective clothing must be densely woven. If you can see through it when holding it up to light, UV radiation can easily penetrate it.
• UV-absorbing or UV-reflective fabric: Certain fabrics have more sun protection capabilities than others. For example, shiny polyesters are great at reflecting UV rays while unbleached cotton is great at absorbing them. You can also opt for high-tech synthetic fabrics that have been treated with UV absorbers like the ripstop fabric used to make our Hi-Visibility Ripstop Work Shirt with MIMIX™.
• Loose fit: Sun-protective clothing works best when it isn't stretched. When stretched, the fibers of your UPF-rated clothing are pulled apart from each other allowing UV light to pass through. Wearing loose-fitting workwear will ensure the sun protection of its fabric lasts as long as possible.
• Long sleeves: Simply put, the more skin that is covered equals more skin that is protected. For this reason, you’ll want to wear long-sleeved work shirts whenever possible to maximize your protection from damaging UV rays.
• Bright or dark colors: Believe it or not, the color of your clothing also effects its sun protection capabilities. Both bright and dark-colored clothing offers enhanced sun protection by absorbing more UV radiation than light-colored clothing. Our Enhanced Visibility Work Shirt is a great example, offering UPF 40 protection.
Sun protection shouldn’t stop at sunscreen. UPF-protective workwear provides another level of sun protection to keep you covered throughout your day in the sun. Be sure to opt for clothing with dense, bright or dark colored fabric, a loose fit, and long sleeves when possible. Check out our line of workwear with UPF 40 protection or give us a call for more information on UPF-protective clothing and workwear.