What is UPF?
UPF stands for Ultraviolet Protection factor, which is the measurement of how much UV radiation is absorbed in a fabric. So say an article of clothing is rated "UPF 50," that means only 1/50th of the suns rays will pass through that fabric. So overall, only 2% of the sun's harmful UV rays will get through that fabric.
What is the difference between UPF and SPF?
SPF rates the time it takes for skin to redden and is related to sunscreen, whereas UPF relates to the amount of UV radiation is reaching the skin through a fabric. Just remember "SPF goes with sunscreen, UPF goes with fabric"
What kinds of clothing are best for UV protection?
Fabrics that are tightly woven or knitted are better for UV protection. Fabrics such as twill or denim are good for UV protection because of their tightly woven structure. Fabrics that are dark in color are also good for UV protection, such as black, navy, or brown. However, darker colors absorb heat and can make the wearer uncomfortable.
What about my regular clothes? Aren't those UV protective?
In short, yes, but often not enough to do any real good in protecting your skin. The UPF rating is on a scale from 1-50. The average cotton T-shirt is about a UPF 7, so that means that 86% of the UV radiation from the sun is going through your shirt and into your skin. Now of course there are different weaves and fabrics that can provide different levels of protection, but unless you are getting fabric that is UPF rated, you can never be exactly sure how much you are protecting yourself from the sun's harmful UV rays.
I'm darker skinned and don't really sunburn, why should I be concerned with protecting myself?
In an article by Medical Daily, the Mayo Clinic stated "Regardless of your skin type, the sun's energy penetrates deeply into the skin and damages DNA of skin cells. This damage may ultimately lead to skin cancer, including melanoma." While fair skinned people are more likely to get skin cancer, no one is completely immune. Often times when melanoma is diagnosed in darker skinned patients, it is in a later stage and more dangerous. So everyone should take protection seriously, regardless of skin tone!