This is the last part of our 3-part series on sun protection.
After a long day at the beach with inadequate sun protection, you will find very obvious tan lines on your arms and legs. This is due to the fact that your clothing is able to provide you with some UV protection. However, is that enough?
Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF)
Instead of SPF (Sun Protection Factor), you will find that sun protective clothing will carry UPF ratings. A clothing’s UPF rating gives an indication of its ability to block both UVA and UVB rays.
UPF 15 – 24 blocks 93.3% – 95.9% UV rays
UPF 25 – 39 blocks 96.0% – 97.4% UV rays
UPF 40 – 50+ blocks 97.5% – 98+% UV rays
Normal Clothing vs. Sun Protective Clothing
Back to the question of whether your normal clothing is offering enough UV protection, the answer is NO.
The UPF rating of normal clothing is estimated to be about UPF 6, which still allows about 17% of the UV rays through. Even a bottle of SPF 15 sunblock offers more protection than that! Therefore, if you are going to be staying under the sun for prolonged periods (e.g. kayaking), do put on clothing with higher UPF ratings. It is easy to find clothing with UPF rating of 50/50+. Billabong, Quiksilver and Uniqlo (women’s only) are some brands that carry sun protective clothing.
Is Sunblock Redundant Then?
NO! Definitely not!
Firstly, your sun protective clothing cannot possibly cover every inch of your body. Secondly, the UV protection of the sun protective clothing may be reduced when it gets wet, over-stretched, or worn out.
As such, in order to keep your skin protected from UV rays and to remain fair, you should still apply sunblock, even under your sun protective clothing. If you have a friend who refuses to put on sunblock just because he is wearing a rash guard, don’t forget to share this post with him 😉