Taking in the gentle, comforting rays of the sun is one of the best parts about being outside in the fresh air. However, as is the case with the majority of life's pleasures, it is best enjoyed in moderation. Sunlight contains beams of ultraviolet (UV) radiation, and being exposed to these rays may result in sunburn, accelerated skin aging, and even skin cancer.
Hold your worries, we got you! If you wear clothing that has been specifically designed for sun protection and has been tested to validate its Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) you will have a higher control at the overall amount of UV exposure you get.
First things first–Who Can Wear and Benefit from UPF Clothing?
Children and older adults: Children have skin that is relatively thin and sensitive, and if it is damaged at a young age, there is an increased chance that it can cause serious problems later in life. Damage to the skin also accumulates with time, which increases the risk of illness for all individuals as they become older.
Sun sensitive people: People who have skin that freckles or burns easily are more susceptible to the sun's UV radiation. One's susceptibility to sunburn may be increased by a number of different characteristics, such as having lighter skin color or a greater number of moles.
People with darker skin color: A darker skin pigmentation suggests that there is a higher concentration of melanin, a chemical that provides protection against UV rays. However, deeper pigmentation makes it more difficult to detect UV damage, which may cause both you and your doctor to become less attentive as a result.
People that are taking medications: A broad variety of medications, such as those used to treat acne, antihistamines, antibiotics, some anti-inflammatory medications, and even herbal supplements, might make a person more sensitive to the sun's rays. Please ensure that you have checked all of your prescriptions for any potential sun sensitivity warnings.
People living at high altitudes, in tropical climates, or those living on snow or water: Where there is less air (higher elevations), where the sun is more directly overhead and UV rays have a shorter path to you through the atmosphere (tropical/equatorial regions), and where rays come both from overhead sunlight and underneath through reflective surfaces (like snow and water). The intensity of UV radiation is greater on these parts which may cause skin cancer and other unpleasant skin conditions.
What is UPF Ratings and what does it mean?
The UPF rating system is the one that is used for clothing. It is comparable to the SPF rating system, which is used to sunscreen goods and stands for "Sun Protection Factor." Only the efficiency of a sunscreen against UVB rays, which are generally regarded as the kind of light that does the most harm, is taken into consideration when determining the SPF. The ultraviolet protection factor (UPF), on the other hand, evaluates how well a material blocks both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays of sunlight.
So the next time you go shopping, getting better sun protection is as easy as looking for items with a higher UPF rating number and more skin coverage.
A UPF rating of 30 (good) implies that the fabric of a garment will let 1/30th of the available UV light to pass through it, which is around 3 percent. A clothing with a UPF rating of 50 (excellent) allows just 1/50th, or around 2 percent, of UV rays to pass through it. The UPF 50+ mark is applied to any fabric that lets through less than 2 percent of the sun's rays.
Other factors that enhance UPF ratings:
Type of fiber: Both polyester and nylon are quite effective in obstructing the path of ultraviolet radiation. The effectiveness of wool and silk is around average. Without further treatments, cotton, rayon, flax, and hemp materials often get poor scores.
Construction: A dense and close-fitting design allows for a reduced quantity of ultraviolet radiation to penetrate it. If all other aspects of the structure remain the same, there is a possibility that thicker materials will have less UV transmission than thinner ones.
Color: Darker hues, in general, block more rays, particularly UV rays, from reaching your skin. Within the same color, hues with a higher saturation level (brighter ones) perform better than those with a lower level (paler ones).
Treatments: In order to increase the UPF, chemicals and dyes that are capable of efficiently absorbing UV radiation may be applied.
Factors that make UPF-rated clothes less effective include:
These are factors that limit the effectiveness of UPF rated clothes and it is important that you should be aware of the following:
Wear and tear: When the color of a fabric fades or gets worn, the fabric's ability to block ultraviolet radiation likewise decreases.
Stretching: It is recommended that you consider replacing any item that just fits too tightly since stretched cloth might lose a considerable percentage of its UPF.
Wetness: Wetness may cause a considerable fall in the UPF rating of a fabric to a wide variety of fabrics. However, there have been some studies that show that polyester may actually provide somewhat superior protection when it is wet.
Washing your clothes affect UPF ratings:
The UPF of your clothes may increase or decrease when you wash it, depending on a number of variables which includes the following:
Shrinkage: When a garment is shrunk, the weave becomes denser, which might lead to an increase in its UPF.
Clothes that rely on its inherent fabric properties for its UPF rating: The UPF should be generally unaffected by washing, unless it is reduced merely because the cloth gets worn or faded, at which point it will become less effective.
Clothes that rely on its finishes for its UPF rating: The longevity of finishes might vary greatly. Clothing UPF will decrease if it is worn and washed out. Check the label of your item to see whether it specifies that the UPF rating will remain valid even after a certain number of washings.
Soap and detergents with brighteners: Although the majority of detergents do contain them and most do improve UPF, there is no way to know for certain whether or not a particular detergent will improve the rating of your clothing.
Protection from the sun that goes beyond UPF Clothing.
Making sure that your clothing has a UPF rating is a crucial step, but getting complete protection from UV rays demands using a wide range of strategies. Here are some it:
Sunglasses: Be sure to put on ones that provide a 100% defense against UV rays.
Sunscreen: Apply a generous amount of sunscreen with a high SPF rating to any and all regions of skin that are exposed. Reapply sunscreen on a consistent basis since its efficacy decreases with time.
Clothing: Put on UV-protective clothes that cover a considerable portion of your skin to limit or avoid sun exposure.
Exposure time: Keeping track of the amount of time you spend exposed to UV radiation is important, particularly during the busiest hours of the day, which are about 9:00 in the morning to 3:00 in the afternoon.
Even on gloomy days, the sun may still do harm to your skin, therefore it is important to take precautions.
Shade: Always look for ways to get some shade, and remember that being near water, snow, or reflecting surfaces might make your UV exposure worse.
If you take these preventative measures, your skin will remain healthy. If you are aware of how the sun might affect you, it will be much simpler for you to enjoy yourself while you are outside. Have fun and trek the outdoors while we can! Cheers!