- What is sun protective clothing?
Sun protective clothing is clothing specifically designed for sun protection by covering a maximum amount of skin and being made from a fabric rated for its level of ultraviolet or UV protection.
- Why do I need sun protective clothing?
Research has shown that sun protective clothing is one of the most effective ways to protect against skin cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute, it is the most common form of cancer in the United States. More than one million cases of skin cancer are diagnosed annually with over 90 percent attributed to sun exposure.
- What are the risks of overexposure to the sun?
Skin cancer is still a great risk to you, even if you don't consider yourself a sun worshipper. The Skin Cancer Foundation states that a person's risk for skin cancer doubles if they have had five or more sunburns. Additionally, one blistering sunburn during childhood more than doubles a person's chance of developing melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer, later in life. Men over age 40 spend the most time outdoors and have the highest annual exposure to ultraviolet radiation.
- Doesn't all summer clothing protect me from the sun?
No. Many consumers are surprised to learn that most regular summer clothing actually provide less protection than a SPF 30 sunscreen (Gies et al, 1998; Gambichler et al, 2001).
- What affects clothing's level of sun protectiveness?
Factors include the fabric's weave, color, weight, stretch, and wetness, and also any UV absorbers that are added during manufacturing to enhance UV protection levels.
- How is sun protective clothing rated?
In the U.S., the rating for sun protective clothing is called the Ultraviolet Protection Factor or UPF. UPF is based on a series of test standards: the key one being the American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists (AATCC) Test Method 183.
- What does the AATCC 183 test?
AATCC 183 tests the ratio of UV measured without the protection of the fabric compared to with the protection of the fabric. For example, if a fabric is rated UPF 30 then for every 30 units of UV that fall on the fabric, only 1 passes through. So that fabric is blocking or absorbing 29 out of 30 units of UV or 96.7% UV.
- Doesn't wearing just sunscreen protect me enough?
No. While the UPF rating for clothing is actually a very similar concept to the SPF rating for sunscreen there are some differences. Sun protective clothing keeps out more UV rays than sunscreen. A person wearing a UPF 30 garment will be protected against 96.7‰ UV, whereas, most people using a SPF 30 sunscreen don't apply enough sunscreen and end up with significantly less protection. Not to mention that you don't need to worry about reapplying.
- How do I get the best protection against harmful UV rays?
By wearing sun protective apparel and applying sunscreen to those areas not covered by clothing.
- How did sun protective clothing come about?
Sun protective clothing was originally developed in Australia and is regulated by a federal agency, ARPANSA. Over the past 15 years, it has become significantly more popular than sunscreen for sun protection. The biggest focus for sun clothing in Australia has been swimwear for children.