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What Fabrics Are Not UV Protectant?

What Fabrics Are Not UV Protectant?

20th Oct 2022

When it comes to basking in the warm glow of the sun while ensuring you stay protected, discover what fabrics are not UV protectant.

It may come as some surprise that simply throwing on a long sleeve t-shirt isn’t enough to protect yourself completely from the sun’s harmful rays. We’ve all heard of the damage the sun can do to our skin and how important it is to be careful when venturing outside, especially when it’s particularly sunny. Achieving complete protection isn’t as simple as we’d like.

Studies estimate that 90% of skin aging comes from the sun. This means that a little care and consideration for sun protection can make a huge difference!

If you’re serious about sun protection and want to avoid fabrics not UV protectant, we’ve got you covered. Read on to find out more.

Sunlight And You

The sun is the source of the vast majority of all energy on earth. It’s also a ball of plasma in nuclear fusion radiating energy as ultraviolet and infrared radiation. Despite being around 150 million kilometers away, it’s still powerful enough to have fueled all life on earth.

So, it deserves some respect. We’ve become so familiar with the sun that it’s easy to forget just how dangerous it can be, especially because the damage it does isn’t immediately clear. This is where sun protective clothing comes in handy.

One of the best ways to protect your skin from the sun’s damaging radiation is to block it completely. Until recently, most people were under the impression that clothing was a sufficient barrier. Clothing is certainly an improvement to bare skin, but not all fabrics are as effective as you might suppose.

Fabrics Not UV Protectant

Unfortunately, most of the fabrics we turn to for lounging around during the summer aren’t great in terms of UV protection. Favorites such as linen and bleached cotton let a significant amount of UV protection through. They’re not reliable protection from the sun for the same reason we turn to them for our summer clothing.

Light and breathable often means a loosely woven material, meaning that what we’re counting on to protect us from the sun is essentially an incredibly fine net. When a fabric is full of tiny holes and made from a material with light-permeable properties, protection is far from guaranteed. Fortunately for us, UV protection fabrics exist for precisely this reason, ensuring a little more peace of mind.

Some fabrics not expressly designed for sun protection do a good job though. Densely woven materials like canvas and denim are good examples, ensuring protection because they block the sun’s rays completely. They’re not an ideal solution though, as nobody wants to walk around in the height of summer wearing jeans and a long sleeve denim jacket.

UV Protection And UPF Clothing

The degree of protection that fabric offers is commonly referred to by its UPF rating. UPF ratings are numbered between 15 and 50+. The higher the rating the higher percentage of radiation UV protective clothing can protect you from.

For example, viscose is rated too low to be considered UV protection, coming in under 15 on the UPF scale. Any material rated lower than 15 is considered non-rateable and unable to be recommended as reliable protection from the sun. Conversely, polyester and wool-based fabrics offer considerable protection, rated UPF 30+.

If you’re carefully considering the purchase of some summer clothing with sun protection in mind, check the UPF rating. This system was designed to tell how much protection the garment offers at a glance. Bare in mind though, that all materials will degrade slightly over time as the weave loosens after multiple washes and general wear.

Synthetic VS Natural Material

It’s a common misconception that synthetic materials such as polyester and nylon are the only fabrics that protect UV rays. Cotton is quite effective at absorbing UV if it’s unbleached, but the manufacturing process often degrades the natural lignin which would otherwise provide protection. Bleached cotton, the type that’s most commonly used in most applications doesn’t offer sufficient sun protection, with a UPF rating of under 15.

The production process of clothing often calls for a chemical treatment to complete a smooth and durable material. In some cases, this lessens the sun protection offered, but can also greatly improve it. Some studies have shown that the effective sun protection offered by a garment can be increased by as much as 544% when dyed blue, for example.

Colored fabrics offer significantly more protection than materials that are left in their natural state. This is because darker colors absorb UV rays more readily than the light-scattering effect of brighter colors. Dyes often contain a high concentration of benzene atoms which are highly effective at absorbing a wide spectrum of UV radiation.

Stay Safe In The Sun

The feeling of the warmth of the sun on our bare skin is undeniably pleasant, and something many people seek out for hours at a time. The grim reality is that although it might feel wonderful, that warmth is your skin absorbing harmful ultraviolet radiation. While it might look great to have that perfect sun-kissed look, the cost is considerable and mounting damage.

Over time the sun is more than capable of damaging your skin and even altering its DNA. Solar radiation causes photoaging and may even produce precancerous cells. All of this happens gradually, but after a few years, you’ll see its effects and wish you’d taken more care.

If this article has helped you avoid fabrics not UV protectant, have a look over the rest of the blog. When it comes to all things sun protection, we’ve got you covered!