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Are Your Clothes Protecting You From The Sun?

June 4, 2011

With all the information around today it can be hard to know which products actually work.  Slowly news has been seeping out that our sunscreens may contain harmful chemicals and our clothing is not strong enough to protect against the sun.  That is where sun apparel comes in, but how do you know which is a good sun apparel product?  According to REI there are few ways to understand and decipher which clothing has the most protection.

First of all, all clothing has some ultraviolet (UV) protection.   Darker colors protect more than lighter colors, and the tighter woven the fabric is the better.  Clothing that protects the most has an Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) value.  UPF ratings range from 15 to 50+.  UPF is similar to SPF (Sun Protection Factor) in that they each gauge the effectiveness of UVA and UVB protection.  In terms of effectiveness 15-24 is good, 25 – 39 is very good and 40 – 50+ is excellent.

There are a few important qualities of sun apparel that can help to tell the quality of the garment such as construction, dye, and fabric.  The construction of the garment needs to be tightly woven as well as thick, but not constricting.  The tighter woven the less UV rays will be able to penetrate through it.  Somewhat surprisingly dye and color are related, but can create very different garments.  It is not about the color of the fabric but the dye used.  Some dyes soak up more UV radiation than others, for instance fabric with a resin that creates a powdery look is best.  As for fabrics, polyester and nylon are great fabrics because they disrupt UV light.  Natural fibers can be less effective unless treated.  There are a few treatments, some even at home, that can increase a UPF rating.  Special laundry detergents have been created that help to disrupt UV light.

Sun Protection Zone offers a wide variety of sun apparel ranging from rash guards to hats and sunglasses. Sun Protection Zone’s clothing has SPF 100 and a UPF protection rating of 50+.   It is made of tightly woven, high-density yarn that stretches easily and dries quickly.  It also can withstand chlorine and salt water, so it’s like a sunscreen that never comes off!

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