Our neck gaiters and face masks don't just look amazing — they also absorb and block harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation! Did you know that clothing is one of the most effective ways to guard yourself against sun damage and skin cancer? And unlike sunscreen, you don't have to reapply this protection every few hours.
In this post, we'll figure out exactly what UPF is and why it matters for everyone.
So, What's UPF?
"UPF" stands for ultraviolet protection factor. It's a rating system used for apparel that indicates how much UV radiation a fabric lets reach your skin. The number that follows a UPF designation signifies what percentage of the sun's rays penetrate the fabric.
For instance, UPF 15, the minimum rating, allows 6.7% (1/15th) of UV radiation through. This is considered good. A UPF 25 fabric enables 4.1% (1/25th) through. That's considered very good. And a UPF 50 fabric only allows 2% (1/50th) of sun rays through. That means it blocks 98% of UV radiation. Anything with a UPF 50 rating is considered excellent. Not to brag — okay, maybe just a little bit — but all of our neck gaiters and face masks come with UPF 50 sun protection!
Sun protection factor (SPF) is the rating system used for sunscreen products. It's similar to UPF but only pertains to UVB rays. UPF ratings measure both UVB and UVA rays. SPF is based on the time it would take for UV-exposed skin to redden. So if you burn after 20 minutes spent baking in the sun, then an SPF 15 sunscreen would protect you for 15 times that normal duration. Long story short? Invest in some UPF clothing; it's simpler to manage, and as we said before, doesn't require constant re-application.
Why UPF Matters
We originally made neck gaiters for outdoor enthusiasts because we are outdoor enthusiasts. Being in nature and basking in the warm glow of the sun is one of life's greatest joys. But like so many of life's other pleasures, spending time outdoors is best done in moderation. Long-term exposure to UV rays can lead to sunburn, premature skin aging, and skin cancer.
Choosing appropriate UPF clothing gives you greater control over your level of UV exposure. It's especially helpful for:
Children: Kids have thinner, more sensitive skin than adults. UV ray damage increases their risk of encountering some health issues later on in life.
Sun-sensitive people: Do you have fair skin or burn rather quickly when you step out into the sun? Then you definitely need UPF clothing. It's worth noting that, while people with dark skin tones may rarely show any signs of burning, they can still develop skin cancer. Thus, they should be proactive about sun protection as well.
People living at high altitudes or near snow or water: Environments with high elevation, in equatorial regions, or near snow or water often have greater sun intensity. For occupants of these regions, UPF protection is a necessity.
People taking medications: A wide variety of drugs, such as acne treatments, antihistamines, and antibiotics, can increase your sun sensitivity. Make sure to check all of your medications for any warnings about the sun or UV rays.
How to Shop for Apparel that Shields You Effectively from the Sun's Rays
When you shop for UPF clothing, one obvious tip is to look for a higher UPF rating number so you get the best sun protection possible. But here's another useful insight: Not all clothing protects you equally. Here are some essential factors to keep in mind:
Color: Darker-colored fabrics absorb more UV rays. This means fewer rays reach your skin. To put this in perspective, a dark, denim shirt could provide you with a UPF rating of 1700! As far as sun ray protection goes, that's as good as it gets. Unfortunately, it's probably not the most comfortable apparel for hot environments.
Construction: Densely woven cloth such as wool, denim, and polyester are much better at guarding you from the sun's rays than a thin or loosely woven cloth. This is why we use 100% interlock polyester in many of our products. If you want to verify a fabric's sun safety, hold it up to the light. The less you can see through it, the better it is at protecting you from sun ray penetration.
Composition: Fabric composition is one of the most important factors when it comes to UPF sun protection. Polyester, nylon, and satiny silks perform especially well because they reflect radiation. Unbleached cotton works well for absorbing UV rays because it contains natural lignins.
Fit: Always opt for loose-fitting apparel. Tight clothing can stretch over your skin, which reduces the level of protection it provides. The more the fabric fibers pull away from each other, the more UV light they let through.
Coverage: The more skin you cover with UPF protection clothing, the better! Whenever possible, go for long-sleeved shirts and long pants. Also, protecting your face, neck, and scalp is an absolute must. Roughly 90% of skin cancers are either basal cell or squamous cell carcinomas. These often occur on the head and neck. So don't forget your hat and neck gaiter — they can make a big difference.
Activity: When thinking about sun protection, always consider what activity you'll be doing outdoors. If your clothing becomes stretched or wet, it will lose some of its protective ability. To put this in perspective, a white T-shirt usually only offers a UPF of 7. If it gets wet, that UPF rating drops down to 3!
Are you looking for neck gaiters and face masks that offer the best UPF protection possible? Check out our shop!