When Is the Best Time to Use UPF Or SPF?

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Protecting skin from the sun is essential, but reapplying sunscreen every hour gets tiring. Sun protective clothing, better known as UPF, is a much more convenient and effective alternative to sunscreen.

Dark colors and densely woven and loose-fitting fabrics offer more protection, preventing UV rays from penetrating the skin. Look for a UPF rating on the label, and cover as much of your body as possible.

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Summer

If you plan on spending lots of time outdoors this summer, pack sunscreen and a sun-protective hat or umbrella. Opting for a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher would be best. So, what is the difference between UPF and SPF? You may be familiar with SPF, which stands for Sun Protection Factor and measures how long it takes to redden skin after sun exposure. A UPF rating, on the other hand, is a measurement of how much UV radiation can penetrate a fabric before reaching your skin.

While regular clothes can offer UV protection, you’ll want to look for shirts and swim trunks labeled with UPF. Typically, these are made of tightly woven fabrics like wool and denim. Dermatologists explain that this allows the UV rays to be reflected rather than absorbed, keeping you safer from sunburn. Remember to reapply sunscreen as directed, especially after toweling off or swimming. A sunburn is not only painful, but it can lead to aging and even skin cancer.

Spring

It’s the season for getting outside and enjoying the warm weather, but overexposure to the sun’s harmful rays can lead to significant skin damage. In addition to sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 30, cover up, wear hats and sunglasses, seek shade, and limit sun exposure between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.

When selecting outdoor clothing, look for UPF-rated cotton, linen, and wool fabrics. The rating is based on the density of the material and how tightly it’s woven and indicates the amount of UV rays that can penetrate the skin but won’t be absorbed.

Remember that SPF only accounts for UVB rays, while UPF can also protect against UVA rays that penetrate deeper into the skin and cause aging. It’s also important to know that the UPF rating of fabric can fade with repeated washings, so check your product’s label for how many washes it can handle.

Fall

The sun isn’t as harsh in the fall, but that doesn’t mean you should slack on your sunscreen routine. Even on cloudy days, UV rays can still reach the skin. That’s why wearing protective clothing and applying broad-spectrum sunscreen daily is essential.

When choosing sun-protective clothing, look for the UPF rating on the label. The number indicates how harmful sun rays penetrate the fabric and reach the skin. UPF 50+ materials offer the most protection.

Also, if you wear clothing that uses a finish, read the tag to determine how long the finish will last. Some finishes start to degrade after many washes. Therefore, you should only wash your UPF clothing after a few washes. For more durable clothing, opt for styles made of tightly woven fabrics like wool and denim. The tighter weaves block more UV rays, and the material won’t wear down as quickly.

Winter

Sunscreen is a great way to protect your skin from harmful UV rays. But did you know that wearing UV protective clothing can be even more effective and much lower maintenance than reapplying sunscreen?

UPF, or Ultraviolet Protection Factor, is a rating that measures how well a fabric blocks UV rays. When you see a product with a UPF rating of 30 or higher, the fabric will allow less than one percent of UV rays to pass through. UPF ratings also indicate whether the garment is rated for UVA and UVB radiation and to which wavelengths.

When shopping for UPF clothing, look for the UPF number in the product description or label. You should also check the label to find out how long the UV protection will last before it begins to diminish. Then, you can be sure your favorite sun-protective pieces will keep up with your summer adventures.

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