According to the American Academy of Dermatology, more than
1 million people will be diagnosed with cases of skin cancer
this year in the United States. Applying sunscreen and
limiting your sun exposure can reduce your risk for skin
cancer. So can wearing sun-protective clothing.
It's important to understand the labeling information on
sun protection products and shop carefully before heading to
the beach, tennis court or park. The Federal Trade
Commission carefully monitors advertising claims in this
area and offers this information to help you make wise
Sun-protective fabrics differ from typical summer fabrics
in several ways. Sun-protective fabrics typically have a
tighter weave or knit and usually are darker in color.
Garments made with these fabrics may have a label listing
the garment's Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) value,
that is, the level of protection the garment provides from
the sun's harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. The higher the UPF,
the higher the UV protection.
The UPF rating indicates how much of the sun's UV
radiation is absorbed by the fabric. For example, a fabric
with a UPF rating of 20 allows 1/20th of the sun's UV
radiation to pass through it. This means that the fabric
would reduce your skin's UV radiation exposure by 20 times
where it's protected by the fabric.
There are three categories of UPF protection:
- A UPF between 15 and 24 provides "Good UV
- A UPF between 25 and 39 provides "Very Good UV
- A UPF between 40 and 50 provides "Excellent UV
Garments with a rating above UPF 50 may be labeled UPF
50+; however, they may not offer substantially more
protection than those with a UPF of 50. Also, a garment
shouldn't be labeled "sun-protective" or "UV-protective" if
its UPF is less than 15. In addition, sun-protective
clothing may lose its effectiveness if it's too tight or
stretched out, damp or wet, and worn and washed repeatedly.
You may see labels on sun-protective garments stating
that the garment meets standards developed by the American
Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). ASTM is just one
organization that has developed a standard guide for the
testing and labeling of UV protective fabrics. While
manufacturers don't have to comply with the ASTM standard
guide, those that say they do must label their garments with
Tips for Sun Safety
Here are some other ways to make working and playing
- Wear sunglasses to reduce sun exposure that can lead
to cataracts and other eye damage.
- Wear a wide-brimmed hat to protect your eyes, ears,
face and the back of your neck - areas that are prone to
overexposure to the sun.
- Use sunscreen before you go out, and reapply every
two hours if you've been perspiring or swimming. Even
waterproof sunscreens can come off when you towel off
sweat or water. Be aware that children under six months
of age should never have sunscreen applied to their
skin; they can be protected by avoiding time outdoors.
- Try to avoid the midday sun when the sun's UV rays
- Pay attention to the UV Index, which provides a
forecast of the expected risk of overexposure to the sun
and indicates the degree of caution you should take when
working, playing or exercising outdoors. The UV Index
predicts exposure levels on a scale of 0 to10+. A 0
indicates a low risk of overexposure; 10+ means a very
high risk of overexposure.
The above educational alert regarding
UV Protective Clothing is from the FTC. The article
has been obtained by the Apparel Search Company on September
4, 2007 from
The alert had originally been posted on the FTC website May
The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent,
deceptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace
and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and
avoid them. To file a complaint or to get free information
on consumer issues, visit
or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP
(1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. The FTC enters
Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other
fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure
online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal
law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.