But I don’t get a sunburn when wearing a normal t-shirt. Why do I need anything else?
This is probably the most common comment we hear when discussing the benefits of using sun protective clothing. The person assumes that if they aren’t getting a sunburn, they are covered, and that’s not always the case. Every fabric has a UPF rating which correlates to the amount of UVA/UVB radiation that gets through the fabric. The higher the number, the less radiation that penetrates and in turn the safer it is to the person wearing it.
Whats so bad about UVA/UVB radiation?
An excerpt from The Skin Cancer Foundation (skincancer.org):
So how do you increase the UPF rating?
There are a number of ways to achieve higher UPF ratings but the most common is using a thicker fabric or tighter weave, but that produces a garment that is heavy and not breathable- not a great option for a day in the sun. We work hard with our partners to develop fabrics that are lightweight and breathable, while still maintaining the UPF coverage. We do this by selecting the right materials and when necessary, infusing compounds into the fabric that aids in reflecting UV radiation.
Studies have also shown that contrary to popular belief, darker clothing helps reflect more UV rays than a lighter colored shirt. Many people may not prefer to wear dark colors in the sun for fear of overheating, so finding lighter colored UPF50+ clothing is the best of both worlds.
How do you test a fabrics UPF protection rating?
There are various standards around the world but the most common is the AATCC 183 UV Test. Independent labs with highly accurate machines perform these tests by shining light on the fabric and measuring how much UVA/UVB radiation gets through. The rating number correlates with the amount of radiation penetrating the fabric. For example, a UPF rating of 5 means that 1/5th (20%) of the UVA/UVB radiation gets through to your skin. UPF50+ means that 1/50th (2%) or less radiation penetrates the fabric.
The average cotton t-shirt has a UPF rating of around 5!
The SUNTECT Process:
- To begin the fabric is put through the UV test to ensure it meets the UPF50+ level.
- We then perform the ASTM D 6544 test which simulates 40 washes and exposure to 100 hours of sunlight.
- Lastly we perform the UV test again- if the fabric does not still achieve a UPF50+ rating, we toss it out.
Does the UPF protection wash out over time??
Not ours! All SUNTECT fabrics maintain their protection throughout the life of the garment. There are products on the market that claim they are UPF50+ rated, but many of them use topical applications that wash out after a few cycles. By performing the “40 wash test” we ensure that the level of protection will be maintained over time. Look for the “life of the garment” claim- you won’t see many!
There are many benefits to wearing sun protective clothing. Here are the top 5 reasons:
- Protection from harmful UVA/UVB radiation from the sun.
- The coverage never washes out. All SUNTECT product is guaranteed to meet UPF50+ standards for the life of the garment (40 washes).
- The clothing is generally lightweight and comfortable to wear outside.
- High levels of protection are often necessary for those with sun sensitivities due to medication or other health issues.
- You can eliminate the need for sunscreen on covered areas of your skin. There are emerging concerns about health risks related to sunscreen use.