Most of us have been there at some point: out in the sun, nothing but rays hitting our faces, bodies, blinding our eyes with intense sunlight, and have nothing on that will protect us. Some of us have experienced extreme sunburn, which peels and then “turns into a tan” (I’ve been been guilty of saying that one!). What is really happening is that with each sunburn you get in your life, it increases the chances of skin cancer. That tan you got after you burned is actually sun damage. Because sun exposure and the threat of skin cancer is accumulative, it is never too late to start covering up and using sunscreen. Contrary to popular belief, 80 percent of accumulative sun exposure happens after the age of 18 years old.
So what’s the difference between SPF and UPF? To simplify, SPF is a way of rating sunscreens and UPF is a way of rating cloth. Measurement of UPF was standardised in Australia in 1996 and measures how well a piece of clothing shields skin from the sun. The major contributors include a fabric’s weight, weave, colour and construction. UPF clothing is becoming increasingly popular because it is the most convenient way of covering up without having to reapply sunscreen every 80 minutes. More and more companies are realising that consumers not only want protection from UV exposure while in such clothing, they also want to look fashionable. While the cost of UPF clothing might seem high initially, you could compare the cost to the number of bottles of sunscreen you’d be purchasing for the summer, which might equal the same as one piece of clothing. Another reason to consider wearing UPF is to consider how much use you can get out of it. Here in Bermuda, we are a subtropical island where most of our “downtime” is spent out in the sun. Are you a golfer, fisherman, running/cycling enthusiast, a gardener, beach goer or, like us, playground goer? Sometimes, being in the rays means being a spectator for an outdoor sport.
We’re not saying cover head to toe in UPF wear, but make sure that you are applying sunscreen every 80 minutes to the non-covered parts of your body.
What are the UPF ratings?
UPF 15 – 24 = Good protection (93.3 – 95.9% of radiation blocked)
UPF 25 – 39 = Very good protection (96 – 97.4% of radiation blocked)
UPF 40 – 50+ = Excellent protection (97.5 – 99+% of radiation blocked)