It is hot, and sunny, and I knew that our Armadillo Merino® garments offer great UV (SPF) protection, and was wondering why.
Factors that influence UV protection
Before we talk about merino wool, there are several general factors that influence UV protection:
- The amount of protection fabric provides depends on the type of fabric weave knit. In general, the tighter the weave or knit, the higher the UPF
- The type of fabric, and in the summary below there is a list of fabrics that offer poor UV protection. Hint – do not wear your favourite white cotton t-shirt in the sun.
- The colour. Darker colours provide more protection than fabrics of the same material in light colours. Luckily our users like our dark colours, so we only offer these.
- If the fabric is wet and this reduce the protection by as much as half when they get wet. This is especially true for wet cotton (your sweaty white t-shirt again)
Fabrics that provide poor protection
Research has shown that a simple white cotton T-shirt only provides the same protection as applying a sunscreen with SPF 5. Other fabrics that you should not wear int he sun are:
- Bleached or white cotton (sorry that white cotton t-shirt or long sleeve top is not offering you much protection from the sun)
- Viscose (rayon)
- Knits, especially loosely woven
- Undyed, white denim jeans
- Threadbare, worn fabric
How does Merino Wool Offer UV Protection?
Merino wool helps to naturally protect your skin from the harmful rays of the sun and does it far better than more traditional summer fabrics such as cotton. How does it do it? Wool absorbs UV radiation through the entire UV spectrum providing protection from the sun. This is natural, as merino wool comes from the merino sheep, and originally the merino sheep came from the mountains of Spain. In summer it is very hot and sunny, and they developed this natural protection to protect themselves from the baking hot Spanish sun.
In a study by Gamblicher et al (2001) more than half of 236 fabrics surveyed fell below the European standard for ultraviolet protection of UPF >30.
All 100 of the Merino fabrics passed the test, with even the worst performing fabric still having a UPF greater than 40.
In contrast, all of the linen samples, and 89% of the viscose samples tested fell below the standard of UPF 30 – while the other fabrics tested (nylon, polyester, cotton and blends thereof fared equally badly. For example 79% of the cotton fabrics had a UPF 20. Once again, your favourite white cotton t-shirt is not much protection.
UPF Factor for 236 Summer fabrics (mean weight 158 g/m2)
Our Armadillo Merino® garments have a UV factor of at least 40 UVP, far superior to cotton and a lot of the other fashion fabrics out there. Next time you head out into the sun put on one of our merino wool tops and feel the comfort as well as know that you are protected from the sun.