About UV Clothing
UV Clothing Benefits
Sun Protective Clothing Benefits
Here are just some of the reasons why your family will benefit from sun protective swimwear and clothing…
Peace of mind – this sun protection won’t wear off
Factor 50+ UVR protection wet or dry
Cheaper in long run than expensive impermanent sun creams
Fabric independently tested to international sun factor standard
Light and breathable modern high-tech fabrics
Cool surfer styles
So what is Sun Protective Clothing (SPC)?
Until recently, most of us in the northern hemisphere have associated sun protection with high factor sun creams and sunscreens. These are important in the defence against the damaging effects of ultraviolet radiation (UVR) exposure but the most effective protection doesn’t come in a bottle, it’s provided by our clothing.
Modern sun protective clothing (SPC) has been developed in the southern hemisphere and is now worn routinely by millions of people in Australia, North America and Southern Africa where the dangers of sun exposure are more stark and public education campaigns have led to greater awareness of the dangers. Sun protection swimwear and outdoor clothing is designed to cover vulnerable areas of the body like the neck, shoulders and upper arms and legs. These clothes are particularly important for those with lupus, porphyria, Xeroderma Pigmentosum (XP) albinism and other sun sensitive conditions.
Ideally you want clothing that covers a lot of the body and blocks virtually all UVR but is still light and comfortable to wear. And that is exactly what the new generation of sun protective fabrics from Australia and South Africa do. Sun protective clothing (SPC) and sun protection swimwear is made from specially developed hi-tech fabrics that block UVR much more effectively than traditional summer outdoor and swim wear. The ultraviolet protection generally comes from the tightness of the weave and not from special chemical treatments, although some garments offer both. The most protective fabrics tend to be nylon or polyester based with a stretchy material like Lycra TM or Elastane TM. These combine excellent sun blocking properties with lightness and breathability. And many specialist SPC fabrics are specially treated to be chlorine resistant – so they’re ideal for sun protection swimwear.
The Sun Factor System for Clothing (UPFs)
We all know about the sun factor system for sunscreen and sunblock cream – the sun protection factor system (SPFs). But you may not be aware that there is a parallel standard for clothing – the Ultraviolet Protection Factor or UPF rating system. This was pioneered in Australia and New Zealand about five years ago and resulted in a technical standard: AS/NZS4399. There is not yet a common international standard but the Australian system is becoming increasingly widely used globally and similar standards now exist in the USA, Canada and South Africa.
The UPF rating is a measure of a garment’s protective ability, based on how much UVR can get through a fabric to the skin. The ultra violet protection factors go much higher than sun creams. The higher the UPF score, the higher the protection. The highest rated garments offer Factor 50+ protection which means less than 1/50 th (or less than 2% penetration) of the UVR reaches the skin. At the other end of the scale a UPF of 2 means 1/2 gets through and so on. So with a 50+ garment you could theoretically stay in the sun 50 times longer before getting burned – but you’d still need to apply sun cream to any exposed skin.
Fabrics that have been tested by the relevant scientific body are labelled with a UPF rating which guarantees a garment’s protection level. Very lightweight fabrics with an open structure, such as light coloured, loosely woven summer cottons, can have UPFs of less than 10 and this can fall to as low as 2 when wet. This provides inadequate protection and means up to half the UVR is able to penetrate the material to your skin. By contrast, nylon/Lycra TM sun protective clothing can exceed UPF 100, wet or dry, blocking virtually all UVR.
The rating categories for clothing are as follows:
UPF Rating Category
40 to 50+ Excellent ultraviolet protection
25 to 39 Very good ultraviolet protection
15 to 24 Good ultraviolet protection
10 or less Does not give adequate UVR protection for outdoor summer conditions
If you’d like more information on sun awareness and safety, ultraviolet radiation protection, protecting kids in the sun, skin cancer prevention and more, check out some of the following web sites.
Featured charity – The Shaw Melanoma Charitable Trust
The Shaw Trust is a new Scottish based charity which funds research into melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer. Check out their web site to learn more about preventing melanoma and how to help the Shaw.
UK Government’s Department of Health Sunsafe Campaign. A great source of information on the dangers of the sun, skin cancer prevention, sun safety guidance, sunscreens and kids and the sun.
The Health Education Board for Scotland’s site. For information on Scotland’s particularly high skin cancer rates and advice on how to stay safe in the sun and protect against skin cancer.
Cancer Research UK
Contains everything you need to know about skin cancer prevention.
The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency. Heaps of information on the sources and effects of UVA and UVB solar ultraviolet radiation and how to reduce your exposure to it.
UK National Radiological Protection Board
Information on UVA and UVB solar ultraviolet radiation, including weekly solar UV radiation bulletins.
The Health Development Agency
Lots of varied information on various health issues.
Australian site full of accessible information and good advice on sun safety and skin cancer prevention.
A schools programme with sun advice from the US Environmental Protection Agency.
Website of the European Society of Skin Cancer Prevention. Contains details of conferences.
The Met Office – UV forecasts (UK & Europe)
Very useful maps showing the forecast for the UV index levels across Europe.
A German website with an English-language version. It gives live sun information for locations throughout the world. Includes times of peak sun damage risk.
The World Health Organisation’s website with plenty of information, including details of UV levels in different parts of the world at different times of year.
Disclaimer: All the links on this page will take you to external web sites which are not under the control of Kakadoo Kids. Whilst we believe these sites to be useful and authoritative, we cannot be held responsible or liable for the content or other issues arising in connection with the usage of these sites.