Summer is a time we try to both enjoy and avoid the sun. The FDA recently came out with new guidelines for sunscreen in 2013 to help protect us, but what about sun protective clothing? Sun protective clothing also claims to have SPF ratings.
Should you buy some?
Sun protective clothing are garments made from tight weaves and synthetic fabrics that may be treated with special sun blocking coatings. Any garment, even without a special chemical treatment, can have some sun blocking capabilities, particularly those that are dark colored and long sleeved.
For example, a regular white cotton T-shirt has an UPF around 5, which means it allows 1/5 or 20 percent of the UV radiation to pass through it. UPF, or ultraviolet protection factor, is the standard for UV protective clothing.
Garments that have higher UVF ratings from 15-50+ are often treated with a UV absorbing coating to provide higher ranked protection, explained the New York Times.
“Basically, a UPF rating of 50 indicates the fabric of a garment will allow only 1/50th (roughly 2%) of available UV radiation to pass through it. A garment rated UPF 25 permits roughly 4% (1/25th) UV transmission” stated REI.com.
Sun protective clothing first began to be used in Australia in the 1990s due to their high exposure to UV light. It then became popular for use by cancer patients here in the United States.
Many name brand retailers such as the Gap, Izod and Landsend now sell UV protective clothing and special lines such as Coolibar or ExOfficio sell only these types of clothes.
Alternatively, there is a wash-in product that you may use on your existing clothes to boost their sun protective quality by Sunguard. Sunguard contains Tinosorb FD, a protectant created by Europe's Ciba labs that boosts your clothes UV protection to up to 96 percent or a UVP of 30. It is applied with a single wash and lasts up to 20 washings.
Dermatologists seem to have mixed opinions on whether wearing special sun protective clothing is worth the extra step.