At the rate your kids are growing, theyre constantly outgrowing clothes, and spending a bunch of money for clothing to play outdoors doesnt make sense.
Or does it?
If you and your family are susceptible to sunburn, protective clothing might be worth a look.
Its common to see clothing with a UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) rating similar to what you see on bottles of sunscreen or sunblock.
According to the American Melanoma Foundation, the difference between UPF ratings and SPF ratings on sunscreen is that SPF is a measurement of UVB radiation only.
UPF measures both the amount of UVB and UVA radiation blocked.
There is a lot of UPF clothing on the market. Who, if anyone, would benefit from it?
First off, remember theres a healthy dose of marketing involved in sun protection.
All fabric disrupts UV radiation in some ways. A white cotton T-shirt would have about a 5 to 8 UPF rating.
In order to be rated as sun protective, clothing must have a minimum of 15 UPF rating, and you may see numbers up to 50 (or possibly higher).
But dont obsess over the higher numbers because youre only adding a small degree of extra protection.
According to the American Melanoma Foundation, a UPF rating of 25 blocks 96 percent of the UV rays. A 50 UPF rating bumps that up to 98 percent.
Does everyone need UPF protective clothing? Simply put, no. Most can get by using the standard cotton T-shirt and sunscreen.
But if you or your kids dont like to be slathered with sunscreen, its a viable option. Not only does UPF clothing protect you from the sun, lightweight, loose-fitting clothing can actually be cooler than bare skin on a hot, sunny day.
Skin type also will determine how much sun protection you and your family need.
The federal Food and Drug Administration published guidelines on skin types. If you fall into the first three categories and expect to be out in the direct sun for extended periods, or at high elevations, UPF protective clothing might be a good option.
Type I: Burns easily, never tans, extremely sun sensitive skin, such as people with red hair and freckles.
Type II: Burns easily, tans only minimally, very sun-sensitive skin such as fair-skinned caucasians.
Type III: Burns sometimes, tans to light brown, sun-sensitive skin, average skin.
Type IV: Burns minimally, always tans to moderate brown, minimally sun-sensitive such as Mediterranean-type Caucasians
Type V: Rarely burns, tans well, sun-insensitive skin, such as people of Middle Eastern, Hispanic or African descent.
Type VI: Never burns, deeply pigmented, sun-insensitive, such as some African-Americans.
Before spending a bunch on UPF protective clothing, here are a few things to remember.
All clothing must meet the same UPF standards, so dont concern yourself with brand names, or lack thereof, or how much it costs. If the UPF numbers are the same, it protects the same.
Washing does not reduce the rating of the clothing, so you dont have to be concerned about that.
Youre probably going to spend more for UPF protective clothing, at least more than your average cotton T-shirt. But if you want peace of mind, as well as protection, its worth a look.
And your kids can still stay and look cool in their UPF clothing.