Sunday, August 28, 2005

What Does UPF Mean?

One question that I have been asked several times is “what does the Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) rating mean?” It is an important question since our long-term health could be affected by how well we protect ourselves from sun damage.

Until recently, sun protective fabrics have been rated with either a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) and/or UPF rating based on the type of testing done. Now the rating for all sun protective fabrics is moving to UPF. However, SPF will remain the standard rating for items such as sunscreens. Tests to determine SPF and UPF ratings are done differently. I don't believe you can make a direct comparison between the two.

The UPF rating indicates how much of the sun's ultraviolet (UV) radiation is absorbed by the fabric (and not your skin). The higher the UPF rating, the more you are protected. For example, a UPF 20 rating means that only 1/20th of the UV radiation will go through the fabric. So, you will reduce your skin's UV radiation exposure by 20 times. This is only true in the locations of your body where the fabric is covering you.

A rating of UPF 50 is the highest rating. UPF 50+ means that the fabric protects better than the rating of UPF 50. There are three categories for sun protective clothing:

- Good UV Protection - UPF 15 to 24
- Very Good UV Protection - UPF 25 to 39
- Excellent UV Protection - UPF 40 to 50

For more information on the UPF rating for sun protective clothing, read the Federal Trade Commission ( article "Sun-Protective Clothing: Wear It Well." I not only want you to enjoy your time outdoors, but I want you to enjoy your time after being outdoors.