UPF = Ultra Violet Protection Factor
The Ultraviolet Protection Factor ( “UPF”) rating measures the UV protection provided by fabrics. UPF very similar to the SPF rating used for sunscreens and sun cream.
A clothes with a UPF of 50 only allow 1/50th of the UVR radiation to pass through it. A sun protective garment that is UPF 50 blocks 49/50ths or at least 98% of the UVR radiation.
All Coolibar garments are rated UPF 50+ which is the highest possible rating currently available in the world. All Coolibar products are rated according to the end results of the testing cycles.
Independent Test Standards
Coolibar uses independent laboratories for all Coolibar’s sun protective clothing tests.
Coolibar conducts an initial UVR transmittance test, then launders the garments 40 times, exposes it to 100 fading units of simulated sunlight, then conducts a second UVR transmittance test; to measure the transmittance for both the UVA and the UVB spectrums.
Coolibar’s garment UPF ratings are based on the lower result of the initial "brand new" test and the second "life cycle" test. Most fabrics lose some level of UV protection as they age, so most fabrics are rated based on their second test.
The exception is cotton or cotton-blend fabrics that can shrink as they age and can be weakest when they are brand new. Coolibar’s UPF rating are always guaranteed under the worst case scenarios.
Here are details of the specific test standards.
The Necessity for UVR Testing
Certification of UVR protection levels is very much needed; as most summer clothing rates below a SPF 30 sunscreen in terms of UVR protection.
As an example, Gambichler et al published a comprehensive analysis of regular Summer clothing in BioMed Central in 2001.
According to this study the level of UVR protection provided by 236 different clothes. They found that less than half the fabrics provided as much protection as a SPF 30 sunscreen. They concluded it was difficult for sun-sensitive consumers to choose the "safe" garment unless they were tested and labeled accordingly with appropriate standards.
In Australia, sunscreens and sun protective garments are regulated by Federal agencies. The program for sun protective garments is administered by ARPANSA - an agency similar to the EPA. ARPANSA developed Australian/New Zealand Standard 4399 which is the original globally recognized standard for sun protective clothing. In the US, while the FDA regulates sunscreens, there is presently no Federal program for sun protective garments. There are AATCC and ASTM standards described above that manufacturers may follow on a voluntary basis.
Variables Influencing the Fabric’s UVR Protection Levels
There are a number of elements that affect the level of UVR protection provided by a fabric and the UPF rating.
In order of relevance these are:
- · Weave (tighter is better)
- · Color (darker is better)
- · Weight ( heavier is better)
- · Stretch (less is better)
- · Wetness (dry is better)
Other major factor that affects protection is the application of chemicals, such as UVR absorbers or UVR diffusers, these products can be used during the manufacturing process.
A major challenge for sun protective clothing design is how to combine style, comfort and UVR protection in the garments. (Many variables that make a garment comfortable also make it less protective)
Coolibar’s UVR Sun Protective Fabrics
Coolibar uses different UPF 50+ fabrics in its UV protective clothing. Each Coolibar fabric offers a unique combination of all these variables, mixed in a way that optimizes lasting UVR protection and comfort.
Coolibar’s proprietary fabrics knowhow is named: SUNTECT®. And can be found in all Coolibar’s garnments.
Coolibar UVR Protective Clothing Design
A majority of summer clothes expose large amounts of skin to the sun’s UVR.
A major goal for all Coolibar’s UVR protection clothes and UVR protection swimwear design is to cover as much skin as possible, while still making the garment cool, fresh and comfortable to wear.
Coolibar design uses its SUNTECT rated fabrics to achieve the dual goals of comfort and maximum skin coverage.