The Dangers of UPF Clothing Popularity: SPF vs. UPF

Just received my latest Tea Collection magazine for the kids. I love their design, durability and fit for my boys.  I was excited to see rash guards, but fair warning, it is marketed as “SPF 40.”  The norm in the clothing industry is a UPF not SPF label. My concern here is that they may be jumping on a sun protection clothing bandwagon without really understanding their materials or the market and possibly putting an unknowing public at risk for skin damage.  


SPF, Sun Protection Factor, tells you how much longer it takes for your skin to redden with the product on than without the product.  So SPF measures skin reddening and the SPF number rating don’t raise proportionally with the amount of sun protection it provides.  So an SPF 40 is NOT the same as a UPF 40.


UPF, Ultraviolet Protection Factor, is the ratio of the average effective ultraviolet radiation (UVR) irradiance transmitted and calculated through air to the average effective UVR irradiance transmitted and calculated through fabric. In other words, it is the amount of ultraviolet radiation that a fabric blocks. Hence UPF values are used in fabrics and are much more reliable.

Please shop safe when it comes to protecting you and your family’s skin. Make sure it says “UPF” before you purchase it.


Author: sunality

I am a mother of two and survivor of a very scary malignant melanoma diagnosis. I was diagnosed in my early thirties. Since that day, I have been working to change my lifestyle and incorporate sun blocking effective products into my daily life to create a new reality of living in the sun... my "sunality." I want to pass along this information to others who are facing the same lifestyle changes and challenges. You can still live a normal life and protect yourself from the deadly effects of the sun.

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1 Comment

  1. Great job! I learned something new again!

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  1. Sun Protection Marketing Lingo Run Amuck - Sunality - […] remember that little article I wrote a couple weeks ago warning you about companies jumping on the sun protection…

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