Do special UV-resistant clothing provide better protection than regular clothing?
All clothing blocks UV rays to some degree, but exactly how much depends on various factors, says toxicologist Fimke Avfortit of RIVM and the Waarzitwatin platform. The darker and denser the fabric, the more UV rays are blocked. Synthetic materials such as elastane, polyamide and polyester absorb more UV rays than natural materials such as cotton and wool.
But in the summer, when the sun is at its zenith, thinner and lighter fabrics are worn, blocking less UV rays. In a Swiss study, five hundred pedestrians were picked up from the street on a sunny day and their clothing was protected from the sun’s rays. In a quarter of cases, it did not provide adequate protection against combustion.
UV-resistant clothing often has the same properties as regular clothing that blocks radiation well: the fabric is usually tightly woven, and dark dyes are often added. Plus, it’s coated with a chemical UV filter, which helps absorb or reflect UV rays, says Afortet.
If the garment is rated as UV-resistant, it will have UPF 30 or higher on the label. If no filter is mentioned, it is not a UV uniform.
Are all those excess chemicals in clothes harmful to the skin?
Only certified UV filters can be used in Europe. So they are safe. You may be allergic to some chemicals. This can irritate your skin,” says Avorte. Unlike food and cosmetics, there is no need for an ingredient list on the clothing label. Only the substance should be mentioned, but no chemical additives are mentioned. Avorte: “If you are allergic to certain chemicals. It is best to contact the manufacturer before purchasing.
She recommends washing the clothes once to remove “loose” chemicals that the fabric has not absorbed well. But beware, frequent washing of the UV filter can lose its effect, just as clothing dye fades over time. The difference with dye is that you can’t see the UV filter disappearing with the naked eye, Afortet says.
Hand washing only without detergent will help extend the life of your UV filter. You can also use a UV filter cleaner once a year to make sure the clothes still provide adequate protection.
Do UV clothing work better than sunscreen?
UV clothing works easier than sunscreen because sunscreen loses its effect after about two hours. In clothes, filters are stuck in the fabric, and UV filters on the skin disappear through sweat, water, and abrasion. Not everyone lubricates often enough, and in addition, not many people apply sunscreen thick enough. KWF Kankerbestrijding’s Sumner says a minimum of 7 teaspoons of full-body sunscreen is needed.
Sumner cautions against slacking off with sunscreen when wearing UV clothing. “Be sure to keep the exposed parts on every two hours.” The advice continues to be applied to stay out of the sun between 12 noon and 3 pm. Children between the ages of 0 and 1 should also avoid the sun with UV-protective suits.
Are expensive UV clothes better than cheap ones?
At first, it was the high-cost brands that brought UV beams to the market, but now UV packs are also available at stores like HEMA and Zeeman. For a fraction of the price. “It doesn’t matter how much UV clothing costs,” says Sumner. “If the garment bears a UV protection label, it must meet strict European requirements.”
Therefore, it is forbidden in Europe to state an incorrect UPF value. That is still the question for a Chinese web store. Are you buying a product outside the European Union? Then pay attention to the regulations in the country of purchase. There are also brand labels, such as UV STANDARD 801 from the German laboratory Hohenstein, known for the OEKO-TEX textile brand. They claim to have the most stringent certification systems in the world, where sun-resistant clothing is tested under real-world conditions.
In 2017, the Dutch Consumer Product and Food Safety Authority (NVWA) concluded that most UV-protective swimwear sold in the Netherlands offer adequate sun protection, with values greater than UPF 50. So, whether the UV swimsuit costs 10 or 100 euros, if the clothes are bought within Europe, you are cooked in terms of sun protection.