How to Choose UPF Clothing - Page

  • Posted on: Sep 29 2017
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Topical sunscreen products are usually the first thing to come to mind when thinking about sun protection. Wearing sunscreen with adequate SPF is essential for protecting yourself against sun damage, skin cancer, and premature aging. But protecting your skin from harmful UVA and UVB rays requires a comprehensive approach that provides the maximum amount of coverage for your time in the sun. UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) clothing is designed to filter out UVA and UVB rays at a higher rate to offer maximum protection everywhere from the beach to the ski slopes.

What UPF Clothing Is and How It Protects You From the Sun

Like sunscreen, fabrics provide a protective layer against the sun, but some types of fabrics are more effective than others. The UPF level of a garment is the equivalent of the SPF level of a topical sunscreen lotion or gel. While it might seem like simply covering your arms or legs with clothes made from any fabric is enough to keep your skin safe, some fabrics filter out UVA and UVB rays at a higher rate than others. A loose, light cotton shirt might feel great against your skin on a hot summer day, but cotton has one of the lowest UPF levels and filters out the least amount of harmful rays.

Fabrics with the Highest UPF

  • Polyester (High)
  • Nylon (High)
  • Silk (Moderate)
  • Wool (Moderate)

Fabrics with the Lowest UPF

  • Cotton
  • Rayon
  • Hemp/Flax

UPF Ratings Categories

Like SPF, higher UPF rates provide greater protection against sun exposure. A UPF of 40 and above offers the most protection, with a UVA/B transmission rate (the percentage of the sun’s rays that can penetrate through the garment) of less than 2.5 percent. Fabrics with tighter, denser weaves and darker colors generally offer the best protection.

Who Should Wear UPF Treated Clothing

While people with fair skin are the most vulnerable, overexposure to the sun is dangerous for everyone, regardless of skin tone and color. Children are especially susceptible to the effects of early sun damage and should always wear sunscreen and protective clothing when spending time in the sun. Think of UPF clothing as a partner to your sunscreen to keep your skin safe and reduce your risk of premature aging and skin cancer.

For more information about sun protection and skin cancer screening and treatments in Denver, contact us by calling 303-761-7797. Learn more and schedule an appointment with a dermatologist today.


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