Ever wonder how UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) clothing works to deliver protection from the sun? Can it really be all that different from any other clothing? The answer is yes. And no. Clothing is your first line of defense in protecting your skin from the sun, and all clothing affords at least some protection. But some textiles do the job better than others, and clothing that bears a UPF rating in particular is up to the task. Read on for answers to common questions about intelligent clothing that can safeguard your sensitive skin from the sun.
Are You at Risk for Skin Cancer?
130,000 malignant melanomas occur globally each year. And while skin cancer is more common in fair-skinned people, it can occur in skin of any color.
People at higher risk for damage from UV radiation:
Live in equatorial regions, or
Live at high elevations, or
Routinely spend time on reflective surfaces (e.g., snow)
The fairer your skin and the more intense the UV radiation where you are, the more preventive steps you should take to protect your skin and eyes.
Wash natural fiber clothing several times to maximize shrinkage of the “holes” in the weave.
Weight—The heavier the better when it comes to UV protection. And while you may not consider this ideal if you are bound for the beach, ventilation holes are added to some UPF clothing for improved air circulation and comfort.
Elasticity—Stretchy clothing provides less protection than clothing without stretch because the weave expands when the material stretches. The correct fit is especially important in stretch clothing.
Wash your clothing with a UPF detergent additive or an optical brightening agent, which will enhance its natural UPF properties.