SPF Clothing

Sun Care You Can Wear

SPF Clothing is big Business.......

"Sun protection" has become a big industry in the United States and throughout most of the western world. Open any ladies magazine today and you'll see hundreds of ads for lotions, potions and anti-aging products.

Now we're seeing ads for Sun protective or UPF clothing, swimwear and hats. Yes, Hats. It's not all hype. All of these products will protect your skin from UV damage.

Did you know the Australians are far ahead of us regarding sun protection and skin cancer awareness? In Australia, sun protective clothing out sells sunscreen. Doesn't that tell you something?

Why do you need SPF clothing?

Because not all clothing effectively protects against UV radiation.

Your regular lightweight, light-colored, loosely woven cotton summer dress or shirt doesn’t do nearly enough to block the bad UV rays from reaching and damaging your skin.

For example, a typical cotton T-shirt is estimated to provide protection similar to that of sunscreen with an SPF of 5-10, worse, this decreases when the T-shirt is wet. Up to 50% of the damaging UV rays can easily penetrate your T-shirt.

Sun protective clothing is one of the most effective ways to prevent skin cancer.

Sun-protective fabrics are different from typical summer fabrics in several ways, They are:

  • typically tighter weaves or knits,
  • usually darker in color, and
  • chemically treated

What is SPF clothing?

Sun protective clothing is:

  • designed for outdoor use,
  • covers a large amount of skin, and
  • made from fabric rated for its level of UV protection

Most sun-protective clothing is treated with chemical UV absorbers that prevent the UVA and UVB rays from reaching your skin.

The advantages of SPF clothing

Sun-protective clothing offers another way to protect your skin from the harmful effects of the sun.

  • Once the garment is on – it’s working
  • Won’t wear off
  • Not messy, oily or greasy
  • Non-allergenic
  • Rated for both UVA and UVB rays (SPF/Sunscreen only rates UVB rays)
  • Less expensive – one garment will last many seasons
  • Created for Leisure and Sporting activities
  • Fashionable and trendy
  • Technological advances in athletic gear

This answers the question, “Did I put on enough sunscreen?”

Check out the new design features that are making SPF clothing not only more functional but, more fashion forward too.

Let me explain the difference between UPF and SPF.

Ultraviolet Protection Factor – UPF is a rating system similar to SPF – Sun protection Factor in that both measure sunburn protection.


  • Is a textile rating system used for rating textiles, apparel, swimwear and accessories
  • Is determined by a machine in a testing laboratory
  • Rates the amount of UVR – both UVA (aging rays) and UVB (burning rays) blocked by the fabric
  • Testing is voluntary in the apparel industry

  • SPF is used for rating Sunscreen
  • Measures how long you can be in the sun without burning.
  • Testing is measured on people – not in a lab
  • Only measures UVB protection
  • Measurement standards are regulated by the FDA

The biggest difference between UPF and SPF is in the actual use of the two products. If you wear a garment that is UPF-30, it will actually protect you from 97% of ultraviolet radiation exposure. However, most people who apply sunscreen with SPF-30 don’t use it correctly and end up MUCH LESS PROTECTED.

What is UPF Garment Testing & Labeling?

Back in 1992, the UPF rating system was established in Australia, the birthplace of all things sun protection.

The Australian Radiation Laboratory, which later became the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA), established standards for products claiming to be sun protective.

In 1998, the United States joined the party and began testing textiles and garments claiming to be sun protective. The American Association of Textile Chemist and Colorist (AATCC) adopted the system used in Australia by the ARPANSA. The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) expanded testing to include a garment labeling for UPF.

There are three categories for labeling of UPF garments:

  • A UPF of 15 – 24 provides “Good UV Protection”
  • A UPF of 25 – 39 provides “Very Good UV Protection”
  • A UPF of 40 – 50 provides “Excellent UV Protection”

Learn more about the UPF rating system and testing methods used on sun protective clothing.

Sun protective clothing made from UV protective fabric provides a simple and efficient approach to sun protection. It is made in all sizes, for all ages and for many outdoor activities. Be sure to look at the labeling to ensure it complies with the ASTM rating for UVF garments.

Shop the many retailers, on and off line that are catering to the sun-protection niche.

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