When people think of wearable tech, they automatically envision products like smartwatches and fitness trackers. The wearable technology industry has expanded significantly and one of the most popular products on the market is UV clothing. The biggest question for most people is “Does UV clothing really work?”
The short answer is yes, but there are variables that can affect effectiveness. The majority of UV fabrics are designed to provide a protective factor of 50 or more against UVB rays and the protective ability lasts for 2-3 years. UV clothing is available in pants, shirts, and hats that more closely resembles high-end fitness or leisurewear for a stylish look.
UV clothing is created by treating the cloth with substances that either absorb or reflect UVB rays to minimize the amount that reaches the skin, combined with a very tight weave. To qualify for the Skin Cancer Foundation’s Seal of Recommendation, UV clothing must provide an ultra-violet factor (UPF) of at least 49.
A rating of 30-49 is considered good, while a rating of 50 or more is excellent. Clothing with a rating of 15 or below isn’t considered UV protective. Tightness of the weave or knit also affects the protective power of the clothing. The protective factor diminishes if the clothing is worn while wet.
UV clothing does minimize the amount of ultraviolet rays from the sun that reach the skin. Sunscreen will still need to be used on exposed areas of skin. The following are tips when choosing UV garments.
- Always look for a UPF rating
- Choose garments with the most dense weave
- Red and blue colors work best at blocking UVB rays
- Nylon and polyester materials are better at disrupting rays
- UV clothing that fits tightly reduces its effectiveness
- The tighter fabric weave increases heat, so check for items with ventilation options
UV clothing can be especially beneficial for children and people that burn easily. The garments are equally advantageous for individuals that work outside, are on the water or snow where light reflects, in equatorial regions, or at high elevations. The clothing is also helpful for individuals taking some types of medications that increase sensitivity to the sun.
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