Every time you step out in the sun, you are exposed to great dangers. While the sun shines upon your soul, the ultraviolet rays in the sunlight damage your skin.
From aging to skin cancer, the havoc that UV rays wreck on your skin are many.
Your line of defense against the invisible attack? Sunscreen.
Slather as much of it as possible on the exposed parts of your body and pray that the harm that UV rays cause on your skin is minimized.
Think of it this way. You are at war with the UV rays of the sun. Your sunscreen is your strongest shield against the enemy. Of course, you cannot attack your enemy, but only try to protect yourself from some of its deadliest blows. Don’t forget you have your armor too. Yes, your clothes are your armor. If donned right, your clothes can also give you UV rays protection.
But not all clothes are made alike. While most clothes act as a physical barrier between you and the sun, not all of them offer equal protection.
Hemp is one of the best fabrics when it comes to protection from UV rays. Hemp clothing has a UPF score of 50+, which is the highest UPF score ever allotted.
Now, what is a UPF score?
How does hemp offer protection from UV rays?
Why is hemp better than other fabrics?
Read on to find answers to all these questions and more.
UPF Score – What, Why, and How?
Disclaimer: If you really want to understand how hemp clothing protects you from UV rays, it is important to understand these details as well. You might be tempted to skip past this, but don’t.
Remember how you pick your cosmetics and sunscreen based on SPF? Just like the Sun Protection Factor (SPF) is a measure of how much UV rays are blocked by the product, UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) is a similar measure for apparel.
SPF pertains to the sunscreen/cosmetic’s effectiveness against ultraviolet B rays. It is the stronger and more harmful of the two – ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B – rays present in sunlight.
But UPF measures a clothes’ effectiveness in protecting against both UVA and UVB rays.
If an item of clothing has a UPF score of 25, it means it allows approximately 1/25th of the UV radiation present in the sun rays to pass through it. This means your exposure is 4%.
A UPF score of less than 15 means the item of clothing doesn’t offer any significant level of UV protection. (Like your plain cotton tee, for example.)
However, hemp has a UPF of 50+. This means that less than 1/50th of the UV rays can pass through it. And a UPF of 50+, showing less than 2% transmission of UV rays, is the highest score ever allotted.
How Does Hemp Clothing Protect You From UV Rays?
To understand how hemp protects you from UV rays and why it has a UPF of 50+, it is important to understand the factors that affect UPF –
Density – Thicker fabrics will let fewer UV rays pass through them. And the primary hemp bast fiber has a high cellulose density of 50 to 60%. Also, thicker weaves are possible in hemp clothes, which means they can offer better UV protection.
Color – It is common knowledge that a darker shade of cloth will offer better protection from UV rays than its paler counterpart. UV protection dyes can also be used to further the protection levels. Now, hemp is a fabric that dyes well. So, it is not difficult to get hemp clothing in the right hues that offer greater protection from UV rays.
Stretch – Clothes that stretch become less dense in their weave over time, and their UPF reduces. Hemp is a strong and durable fabric that retains its shape. It doesn’t stretch with use and doesn’t get distorted due to regular wear, making it effective in sun protection, even after use.
Another factor that affects a fabric’s UPF is wetness. When wet, most fabrics lose some of the UPF. But because hemp is a quick-drying fabric, it doesn’t leave you exposed to the sun’s harmful UV rays for long. Some studies have also shown higher UPF in hemp when wet.
Okay, so hemp is effective in protection against UV rays.
But is hemp the only fabric that is effective?
Well, there are other fabrics too.
But, they are not as effective as hemp.
Why is Hemp The Best Clothing for UV Rays Protection?
The other fabrics that offer protection from UV rays include wool, denim, and synthetic fibers.
A certain study suggested that 70% of wool samples achieved a UPF of 50+. And even denim is extremely effective in protecting wearers from UV rays. However, when the sun is shining bright, wool and denim are among the last options that you’d consider wearing.
Despite their inherent benefit regarding UV protection, wool and denim cannot be called the best clothing options for the cause.
Hemp on the other hand is a lightweight, breathable fabric. Perfect for a sunny day out.
Now, talking about other contenders in the list – synthetic fibers. Nylon and polyester are the top two synthetic clothing fabrics that offer high levels of sun protection. 76% of polyester samples got a UPF of 50+.
That shows polyester is even better than wool in terms of UV protection. And it is also more suitable for wearing during sunny days and in warm temperatures.
So, why consider hemp instead of polyester or nylon?
Being synthetic, polyester and nylon clothes come with their own set of troubles. They are non-biodegradable, require huge quantities of water and energy for production, and contribute to pollution and global warming.
Hemp does not pose any such risk or danger to the environment. It is biodegradable, eco-friendly, and even good for society.
Hemp requires less land, labor, and water for production. It does not require pesticides and even prevents soil erosion.
This makes hemp, sourced from the right suppliers, not just good for UV protection, but also great for the environment.
Staying Safe and Healthy With Hemp Clothing
Now that you know how hemp clothing can protect you from UV rays and how you can contribute towards social and environmental good by choosing hemp, it is time you make the switch.
Hemp is a future front runner in the fashion segment, it protects you from UV rays and makes you a contributor to the greater good. And you should be jumping on the bandwagon right away.
Hemp Foundation is a non-profit organization working on Himalayan hemp research, conservation of indigenous cultivars, and promotion of hemp farming in Uttarakhand and help the farmers market their products. Our Mission is to help the struggling families of Indian Himalayan region of Uttarakhand to return to farming to break the vicious cycle of poverty as they have abndoned farming due to lack of infrastructure, finances, market linkage, knowledge or threat of animals. We want the best of the best lives for them and the most prosperous future for their children. Amen!