What is UPF clothing?

Posted: June 30th, 2022

With UPF garments rising in popularity in the sun protection world, you might be left with a lot of questions. What are they? Do they work? It's kind of a lot to take in (and we get that!)

At PIKA we have our own UPF sun protection lines and to make things clear when looking for summer wear, here's what you need to know about these garments!

What is UPF?

UPF stands for Ultraviolet Protection Factor which describes how effective a garment is at absorbing UV rays before they reach the skin. SPF (Sun Protection Factor) on the other hand, is specific to sunscreens and measures UV absorption of products applied directly onto the skin.

The two ratings differ in that UPF measures the impact of both UVA and UVB rays, while SPF typically only measures UVB. UVA rays are known to cause damage to deeper layers of the skin, while UVB rays lead to more surface level skin damage. 

What Makes a Good UPF Garment?

1. UPF Rating

According to the Canadian Dermatology Association, the best UPF protective garments will be rated at UPF 40-50+, which block upward of 97.5% of UV rays. 

2. Colour

As stated by the Skin Cancer Foundation, brighter or darker colours are better able to absorb UV rays into their fabric and help prevent the rays from reaching the skin.

3. Fabric

Tight-knit fabrics allow for less gaps between threads and help prevent UV ray penetration to the skin.

4. Garment fit

Looser fitting garments are recommended for UPF clothing so that the fibres remain unstretched and as close together as possible.

5. Coverage

The more coverage of the garment, the better the skin protection. The Skin Cancer Foundation states that long sleeves and long pants are preferable - just keep in mind the outdoor temperature so you don’t overheat!

Why Choose UPF?

While using sunscreen is still an effective sun protection strategy, dressing in UPF 50+ clothing on top of performing your normal sunscreen routine is a great way to ensure you are doing the most to stay sun safe. 

Additionally, since it is recommended to avoid applying sunscreen to babies under 6 months old, UPF clothing is a great alternative to keep those little ones safe.

Be sure to check out the PIKA UPF 50+ SunSoft™ collection for women, kids, and babies, as well as our UPF 50+ Swim line!

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