What is "Ultraviolet Protection Factor" - Definition & Explanation
Last Updated on: 22-Sep-2023 ( ago)
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Ultraviolet Protection Factor: Dressing Against the Sun

Exploring Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) in Textile Industry

History and Origin of UPF in Textiles

The concept of UPF in textiles was introduced in the late 20th century as a response to the growing concerns about skin cancer and other health conditions related to excessive exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. While sun protection measures like sunscreen were common, scientists sought to incorporate similar protection into textiles, thus leading to the development of fabrics with a Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF).

Types of UPF in Textiles

  • Chemically Enhanced UPF Textiles: These are regular textiles treated with UV-absorbing chemicals to enhance their UPF rating.
  • Engineered UPF Textiles: These textiles are woven or knitted in a manner to maximize the absorption or reflection of UV radiation.
  • Inherent UPF Textiles: These textiles are made from fibers which naturally have UV-absorbing properties, such as polyester and nylon.

Handling Tips

  • Always check the UPF rating when purchasing sun-protective clothing.
  • Care for UPF clothing as per manufacturer's instructions to maintain its effectiveness.
  • Keep in mind that stretching and wetting the fabric may reduce its UPF rating.

Major International Manufacturers and Users

  • Coolibar: This company pioneered sun-protective clothing, offering a wide range of UPF 50+ garments and accessories.
  • Sun Protection Australia: As a leader in the field, they offer a variety of UPF 50+ clothing, prioritizing both protection and style.
  • Patagonia: Known for its outdoor gear, Patagonia offers a line of UPF clothing aimed at outdoor enthusiasts.
  • L.L. Bean: This retailer offers a selection of UPF clothing, acknowledging the growing consumer interest in sun protection.
  • Columbia Sportswear: With their Omni-Shade technology, Columbia provides UPF 30-50 clothing for outdoor adventurers.

Applications of UPF in Textiles

  • Outdoor Clothing: UPF is crucial in outdoor apparel, particularly for those spending significant time under the sun, such as hikers, fishermen, and athletes.
  • Children's Wear: Given children's sensitive skin, UPF in their clothing can help reduce their UV radiation exposure.
  • Workwear: For individuals working outdoors, UPF workwear provides an additional layer of sun protection.


The importance of UPF in textiles cannot be overstated in the current global context of increasing UV radiation levels and skin cancer rates. The innovative interplay between textile technology and skin protection presents vast potential for both improved public health and industrial growth. Future advancements may involve the development of new UV-protective fibers, more cost-effective production processes, and broader consumer education about the benefits of UPF clothing. As the textile industry continues to evolve, the integration of health and safety measures like UPF into fabrics will remain an essential part of its trajectory. The essence of UPF in textiles underscores the industry's adaptability and its continual response to global health needs.

Ultraviolet Protection Factor UPF
The UPF rating indicates how effective a fabric is at blocking out solar ultraviolet radiation from reaching the skin. UPF ratings range from 15 to 50 with higher ratings indicating more effective blocking and therefore better protection for the wearer of a garment. Fabrics that test higher than UPF 50 are rated as UPF50+. UPF testing involves exposing a fabric to ultraviolet radiation (UVR) and measuring how much is tranmitted through the sample. Different wave-lengths of radiation in the UVR spectrum have different effects on human skin and this is taken into consideration when calculating the UPF rating. Factors that contribute to the UPF rating of a fabric are: *Composition of the yarns (cotton, polyester, etc) *Tightness of the weave or the knit (tighter improves the rating) *Color (darket colors are generally better) *Stretch (more stretch lowers the rating) *Moisture (many fabrics have lower ratings when wet) *Condition (worn and faded garments may have reduced ratings) *Finishing (some fabrics are treated with UV absorbing chemicals)

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