Clothing With Sun Protection: Is It a Golfing Fad?
Janiga MDs was proud to help sponsor the Boys and Girls Club’s Third Annual Charity Golf Tournament this past Friday at The Resort at Red Hawk. Proceeds and donations from the tournament fund the programs, services and facilities offered at the 19 Boys and Girls Club sites in and around Reno and Sparks. The Boys and Girls Club of Truckee Meadows is an extremely valuable resource for our community and we encourage you to support them.
At the Tournament
Typically, tournaments like this can last the better part of the day, which, under the blazing northern Nevada sun, is a lot of exposure to ultraviolet radiation that can burn and prematurely age your skin. Last week we talked about the importance of knowing about and using sunblock, and this week we take a quick look at clothing with UPF sunblock rating. Whether you’re a golfer, gardener or simply curious about this fashion development, the following gives you a good overview of how this fabric works.
What is UPF Fabric?
Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) is the measure of a fabric’s ability to block both UVA and UVB radiation before it reaches your skin. Garments rated UPF 15 let about 7% of UV light through and are considered “good.” UPF 25 is “very good” and lets in only about 4%. UPF 50 is considered “excellent” and lets less than 2.5% of UV radiation through.
How does UPF fabric work?
You might be tempted to think that if you can’t see through it, it’s protecting you from the sun. But since most summer-weight fabrics are varying degrees of translucent (they let some light through) rather than opaque (they let no light through), some of the light that gets through the fabric is ultraviolet radiation. Several things affect how much UV light gets through a material.
Full-coverage clothing with collars, flaps and long sleeves will cover more of your skin and therefore provide more protection. Style considerations like collars, long sleeves and skirts can be great ways to protect yourself from the sun. Also, clothing manufacturers use vents and hidden mesh panels to provide ventilation to make full-coverage garments cooler. All other things being equal, shading your skin from the sun will provide more protection, so coverage is the first line of defense.
Since fabric is made of crisscrossing yarns, the gaps between those yarns are where light gets through. The density of the threads, or denier, and the number of layers will affect UPF. Cotton, hemp, linen and some synthetics with dark dyes naturally provide better protection and therefore need no additional coating or treatment. However, those fabrics are not always the most comfortable choice in the summer heat, but thin, light-colored fabrics provide very little ultraviolet protection.
Darker colors absorb more UV light and convert it to heat rather than letting it pass through. So for a given weave and material, the darker color will yield a higher UPF.
For thin light-colored fabrics, manufacturers will use chemical treatments to improve the UPF. Be aware when you purchase these chemically treated garments, the sun protection can wear off, and you may be left with a false sense of protection after 40 or so washes.
Do you really need UPF Clothing?
If you’re not getting sunburned under your clothing you might not need to switch to clothing made with chemically treated fabric, but knowing the rating of a particular garment can still be helpful. All fabrics protect you to some degree from UV radiation, but without the UPF rating you don’t know how much. If you have the choice between two shirts that are more or less the same and one is rated and the other isn’t, you might want to take the known quantity and opt for the clothing that has been tested and verified for Ultraviolet protection.
UPF Outdoor Clothing
There are a lot of outdoor brands that make clothing with UPF fabric, including Nike, Calloway, The North Face, Colombia, Royal Robbins and Patagonia. Here are some links to buy clothing made with UPF Fabric.