Skip to content
What Is UPF and Why Does It Matter?

What Is UPF and Why Does It Matter?

As UPF labels on clothing and swimwear gain popularity, many beach lovers and outdoor enthusiasts are curious about the UPF measure and how it differs from the SPF found in sunscreens. Look no further to get a thorough understanding of what is UPF and why does it matter.

What is UPF?

UPF measures the penetration of UV radiation through the fabric to your skin, whereas SPF is determined by the time it takes for UV-exposed skin to redden.

The UPF rate represents the level of UV radiation absorbed by the fabric. A UPF rating of 50 allows only 1/50th of the sun's UV radiation to pass through, resulting in a 98% UV block and reducing skin exposure by 50 times in areas covered by the fabric.


SPF, or Sun Protection Factor, is determined by the time it takes for UV-exposed skin to turn red. For instance, an SPF 15 sunscreen can potentially extend your protection against sunburn by 15 times if used correctly.

It's important to note that UPF evaluates both UVB and UVA rays, whereas SPF focuses solely on UVB protection. SPF quantifies the amount of solar energy (UV radiation) needed to cause sunburn on protected skin with sunscreen compared to unprotected skin, and as the SPF value increases, so does the level of sunburn protection.

How does UPF work?

What Is UPF and Why Does It Matter?

Researchers have discovered that commercial sunscreens may not provide adequate protection against radiation wavelengths that can lead to cancer. Sunscreens also don't fully block all visible light, which can result in skin hyperpigmentation, particularly in individuals with dark skin.

UPF clothing addresses these concerns by creating a more protective barrier against the sun than sunscreen alone. UPF clothing relies on the weave of the fabric's fibers, often featuring tightly woven, deep fibers that physically obstruct UV rays.

Some garments may include specialized UPF treatments, dyes, or compounds that enhance their sun-protective properties, and a higher UPF rating indicates superior sun protection.

Benefits of UPF Clothing

For health reasons, sun safety should be a significant consideration that goes beyond the use of sunscreen. 

Enhanced Sun Protection

UPF clothing serves as a physical barrier against UV rays, effectively lowering the risk of sunburn, skin aging, and skin cancer by reducing radiation exposure and minimizing sun damage in both the short and long term. Relying on physical protection from UV light is superior to sunscreen alone, as sunscreen can be compromised by sweat.

If possible, opt for wearing pants, but in situations where it's not feasible, consider going outside during the early morning or late afternoon when the sun's intensity is reduced.

UPF clothing provides continuous protection without the need for frequent reapplication, offering an advantage over sunscreen. However, it's also advisable to layer sunscreen under it. 

More Breathable and Comfortable

Because you'll be under the sun, the last feeling you want to experience is stickiness and suffocation. Wearing UPF clothing offers the significant advantage of comfort, with many garments designed using lightweight, breathable fabrics that allow for airflow, ensuring a cool and comfortable experience, even in hot weather. These fabrics incorporate moisture-wicking properties and advancements in technology that enable improved airflow, despite their tight weaves, to keep you cool and dry.

" The Latest Trends for Long-Sleeve Sun Shirts in 2023" gives you an overview of the developments in UPF clothing. 

Long-Lasting and Durable

UPF fabrics generally outlast regular clothing, maintaining their color and protective properties for an extended period, but it's essential to follow the washing instructions on the label to ensure their longevity.

How To Choose UPF Clothing

What Is UPF and Why Does It Matter?

In your next wanderlust exploration, consider these trendy travel essentials of UPF 50+ sun shirts to keep your skin protected from the sun's harmful rays. Likewise, when shopping for UPF clothing, keep in mind these factors to get the best value for your money.

Baleaf offers an extensive collection of men's UPF50+ and  women's UPF50+ clothing that are both functional and fashionable to stay protected in style.

RELATED: Sun Protection Clothing You Need This Summer

UPF Rating

When shopping, prioritize a UPF rating of 50+ for the highest level of sun protection, as research indicates that it corresponds to blocking 98% of UV radiation transmittance.

Additionally, consider looking for The Skin Cancer Foundation's Seal of Recommendation, which requires fabric to have a UPF rating of at least 30 after testing to ensure its sun-protective qualities.

Fabric Type

When assessing UPF clothing, pay attention to the fabric's texture and inspect the weave and fiber density to minimize porous areas. Some items may have undergone specialized treatments with UV-absorbing agents or dyes to enhance sun protection, with recommended fabrics like nylon, polyester, or quality non-white cotton.

Remember that darker shades provide better UV protection but can also trap more heat, underscoring the importance of thoughtful fabric selection.

Design and Coverage

When selecting UPF clothing, choose pieces that provide extensive coverage by including features, such as long sleeves, high collars, and wide brims.

Additionally, consider options like longer pants that shield exposed ankles during activities like hiking, and longer skirts that cover the knees and the often-neglected back of the legs, reducing reliance on sunscreen.

Care Instructions and Durability

UPF clothes need all your T-L-C if you want them to be used for a long number of years. For long-lasting sun protection, make sure to follow the care instructions on the label to maintain the clothing's UPF properties through washes and sun exposure.

Additionally, periodically assess your UPF clothing for signs of stretching, wear and tear, or fading as damaged items should not be relied upon for sun protection.

Bravely Bask Under the Sun in UPF Clothing

UPF clothing provides better protection against UV radiation than commercial sunscreen, creating a barrier against sun rays that eliminates the need for frequent sunscreen reapplication. This approach to sun protection is gaining popularity among outdoor enthusiasts, offering a reliable solution to safeguard against sun damage.

Check out Baleaf's ALL UPF collection, and you'll be amazed at all our stylish offerings while giving all the protection you need from the sun.

Leave a comment