Does Hemp Clothing Really Protect You From the UV Rays? Let’s Find Out.
Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer across the world.
The risk of melanoma doubles in people who have had more than five sunburns.
90% of nonmelanoma skin cancers can be traced back to exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays of the sun.
Button line: The UV rays of the sun CAUSE cancer.
You, me, and everyone else is at risk.
When we get out of our homes in broad daylight, we risk coming back home with cancer.
Apparently, this close cousin of marijuana can be used to make clothes that offer the highest level of UV protection that clothes can offer. Hemp clothes let 1/50th of the harmful UV rays of the sun pass through.
This means your risk of getting sunburns and skin cancer reduces if you wear clothes made of hemp fabric.
At least that’s what hemp evangelists say.
But is it really true?
Or is it a marketing gimmick? A facade? A false promise?
Well, let us look at the facts and find out.
UV Protection – Why Do You Need It Anyway?
UV rays are a human carcinogen. That means they cause cancer. And that’s not my opinion. It is a proven fact.
You can skip your appointment to the tanning place and keep that sun lamp off to protect yourself from the UV rays from these sources.
But you cannot really stop the sun from emitting UV rays, right?
The max that you can do is stay away from the UV rays.
And how is that possible?
- Stay indoors.
- Cancel that beach vacation.
- Don’t go for that hiking trek.
- Tell your friends you aren’t up for a sunny day outing.
- Leave your job if it requires you to stay out and under the sun.
- Stop traveling during the day. Go out only at night when the sun isn’t shining.
- Never see the face of the park again.
- And yes, also don’t forget to get all your vitamin D from diet and supplements. It won’t be enough but deal with it if you don’t want skin cancer.
All this is impossible!!!
I know, right? The things you do to not die of skin cancer.
Sarcasm apart, you cannot obviously stop living your life due to the risk of getting sunburns and skin cancer.
What you can do instead is get effective protection.
Your clothes are your best bet. Sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses are great add-ons.
Understanding How UV Protection Works
It would have been easy if you could just call the Avengers to save you from the sun. But I’m afraid they won’t be able to help you outside of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
But your clothes can do that for you.
Well, not all your clothes. But a few of them for sure.
The ones with a UPF of 50+.
Quick Catch-up Time: UPF or Ultraviolet Protection Factor is a measure of how much UV rays (UV-A and UV-B) are blocked by the fabric in question. 50+ is the highest UPF score ever allotted.
(Generally, synthetic fibers have a higher UPF as compared to natural fabrics. But then they come with their own set of troubles for the environment and you, making the choice feel like you are picking either of the two evils.)
Factors Affecting the UV Rays Protection Capabilities of Clothes
The tighter the weave, the less space it leaves for the UV rays to pass through the cloth. Thus, giving better sun protection. If you can see through a fabric, UV rays can enter through it too. Tight weaves mean more protection.
Thicker weaves and more weight also mean the cloth in question would let fewer UV rays pass through. Wool and denim are good at sun protection due to their heavier weight.
Dark colors have always been known for better sun protection. Darker-shaded clothes are better at reflecting the sunlight. And this makes most of the harmful UV rays go away from your body, keeping you safe.
Wear and tear can make clothes less effective in UV protection. With use, fabrics tend to stretch, tears, or loosen up. Durable clothes offer long-lasting UV protection.
How Does Hemp Fare On The UV Protection Parameters?
Now that we know what factors affect the UV protection capabilities of fabric, it is time we evaluate hemp on those grounds and find out how true the claims actually are.
- Hemp Has A UPF of 50+
Several neutral third-party organizations have given hemp clothes a UPF rating of 50+. This means hemp clothes have passed rigorous tests and close scrutiny.
- Hemp Has A Tighter Weave
The process of turning hemp fiber into fabric involves tightening up the weave. And clothes made from just hemp are stiff and heavy. Though processing makes it soft to touch, the tight weave, stiffness, and heavier weight make it suitable for UV protection.
- Hemp Dries Faster And Offer UV Protection Even When Damp
Most fabrics see a drop in their UPF ratings when wet. But that’s not the case with hemp. For one, hemp is equally effective in sun protection when wet from water or sweat. And two, it even dries quickly, which means the dampness won’t stay for long. And you’ll always be protected from UV rays when you are wearing hemp clothes.
- Hemp Can Be Dyed Easily
Hemp is available in all colors because it can be dyed easily. Whether you are looking for cool navy blue, pitch black, or dark grey, hemp clothes can be found in several dark colors. And the availability of dark-colored hemp clothes means you can trust those clothes to refract sunlight and keep you safe from harm.
- Hemp Is Among The Most Durable Fabrics
Studies suggest hemp is four times as strong as cotton. It resists bacterial growth and mold. And it is extremely durable. Washing and regular use doesn’t cause wear and tear. The weave remains intact, and your hemp clothes don’t stretch to become out of shape. Thus, hemp clothes stay UV protectant for longer.
With that, we can conclude that hemp clothing does, in fact, protect you from the harmful UV rays of the sun.
The natural properties of hemp make it a good UV protectant, and you can pick it as the material for your armor to stay safe from sunburns and skin cancer.
P.S. – Don’t forget to carry your SPF 30+ sunscreen, UV protection sunglasses, and a wide-brimmed hat for complete protection.
Hemp – The Fabric Hero of The Future
Not just is hemp good for UV protection, it is a better crop than other natural fibers too. It is biodegradable and beats synthetic fabrics as well.
The crop requires less water, little to no pesticides and insecticides, and it doesn’t even degrade the soil, even after years of land use.
If you could just overcome the social stigma that comes with misconceptions like ‘hemp can give you a high’ or ‘hemp is illegal,’ it can become the fabric of the future.
It is good for you, me, society, and the environment.
And with it being proven that it offers sun protection, it should be your first choice for clothing whether you are heading to the beach or the trek, to work or a brunch, or anywhere else.