News & Articles
SPF and UPF what's the difference?
25 October 2010
UPF or (ultraviolet protection factor) is a measure of the sun protection provided by a fabric. The testing of UPF is conducted in a laboratory where the fabric is exposed to a UVR (ultraviolet radiation) lamp that simulates the intensity of the midday sun. The amount of UVR is then calculated to provide a UPF rating specific to the fabric tested. UPF 50+ is the highest rating given. Always look for a UPF rating tag on fabric sun protection products.
SPF or (sun protection factor) is a measure of the protection provided by sunscreens applied to a person's skin, be it in the form of sprays, gels or creams.
A sunscreen with a rating of SPF 15+ would provide a fair-skinned person with 15 times more protection for their exposed skin than if they didn't use a sunscreen. For example, if a fair skinned person reddens after 10 minutes of sun exposure, then correctly applying SPF 15 sunscreen will provide protection for up to 10 x 15 = 150 minutes. It is important to remember that after 150 minutes in the sun while wearing sunscreen this person would still have received the same UVR exposure as they would have received in 10 minutes if they had not been wearing sunscreen. In both cases their skin has received the same amount of UVR exposure.
Factors that may alter the effectiveness of sunscreen are the time of year, time of day, amount of surface reflection, cloud cover, water resistance and the person's skin type. Sunscreens should be applied to clean dry skin 20 minutes before sun exposure and reapplied every 2 hours. Make sure your sunscreen is a broad spectrum (UVA and UVB) and water resistant.