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Yes – There’s a Difference in UPF vs SPF

If you’ve ever bought sunscreen, you’re probably at least somewhat familiar with SPF or sun protection factor. But what about UPF? 

UPF is another rating you might find on sun protection products. But unlike SPF, which can be found in sunscreens and lotions, UPF is used in protective fabrics used to make clothing or umbrellas. This newer rating system is useful too, because it helps you choose the best protective product for your needs.

UPF Explained & When to Use It

Ultraviolet protection factor — or UPF, for short — is a rating system that points to the amount of UV protection your clothing and other fabrics provide by measuring how much of the sun’s rays are absorbed by the fabric. For example, if your protective product has a UPF rating of 50, that means that only 0.02% of the sun’s UV radiation can bypass the material to penetrate your skin.

The cool thing about UPF products, like Black Girl Sunscreen’s Sun Shield UPF 50+ Gloves, is that it protects your skin against both UVA and UVB rays. And the more sun protection you have, the less of a risk you are for related skin conditions like sun damage, premature aging, and skin cancer.

SPF Explained & When to Use It

SPF, or sun protection factor, is the rating system you’re most likely to see on the bottles of sunscreens, lotions, and sprays. Even though most people can recognize an SPF rating, not many people know what the different ratings actually mean? 

We previously mentioned that when it comes to UPF, the higher the rating, the better the protection. However with SPF 30 sunscreen , there’s a common misconception that a higher SPF means more protection, but that’s not always the case. In fact, if you want to maximize your sun protection, there’s only one thing you need to remember: reapplication. 

No matter if you choose an SPF 30 or an SPF 50, you should always reapply your product every 2 hours for maximum UV defense. Neither SPF 30 or SPF 50 will provide full day protection from the sun without proper reapplication. When choosing your SPF, SPF 30 is best for daily use, whereas the 50 rating is perfect for higher levels of sun exposure or your specific skin needs.

The Key Differences Between UPF and SPF Protection

When it comes to understanding rating systems, the easiest way to tell the difference between UPF and SPF is in how they’re used. SPF is typically used in sunscreens, while UPF is designed for fabrics and clothing. 

For example, when buying sunscreen or other products with sun protection like a moisturizer or foundation, SPF can tell you exactly how much protection you’ll get. UPF works in a pretty similar way, but for fabrics. So by understanding how SPF works, you can easily make sense of the UPF ratings commonly found on clothing, umbrellas, and hats. 

Another difference between UPF and SPF is how their ratings are created. With SPF, volunteers test sun protection by applying sunscreen to their skin, then exposing themselves to UV radiation. On the other hand, UPF ratings for fabrics are not based on human testing, but ​​specialized instruments called spectrophotometers, instead. 

Additionally, UPF measures both UVA and UVB rays, while some SPFs only measure UVB rays. Either way, all Black Girl Sunscreen products are Broad Spectrum sunscreens which means they protect from UVA (aging) and UVB (burning) rays just like UPF products.

Both SPF and UPF are important sun protection rating systems that help us to choose the best products to prevent sunburn, sun damage, and skin cancer. And when you combine them both, you get maximum protection from the sun.


Is UPF as effective as SPF?

Yes, UPF is just as effective as SPF. In fact, UPF clothing blocks both UVA and UVB rays, whereas some SPFs only protect against UVB rays.

Should you wear SPF under UPF clothing?

Absolutely! It’s always a good idea to double up on sun protection, and that includes wearing both SPF and UPF at the same time. It’s especially important to use sunscreen on areas of not covered by UPF clothing.

Does UPF prevent sunburn?

UPF clothing can help to prevent sunburn and other forms of sun damage by providing protection from both UVA and UVB radiation. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends a UPF rating of at least 30 for the best protection.

Introducing the Latest Black Girl Sunscreen Creation – UPF Gloves!

Need more sun protection? Black Girl Sunscreen has you covered, literally. Our SunShield UPF 50+ gloves give the ultimate sun protection for your hands, hands down. Made with UPF 50+ to block over 98% of harmful UVA and UVB rays from penetrating your skin, SunShield gloves are created with soft and stretchy nylon and spandex fabric that fits virtually any hand size.

Protecting your hands from radiation caused by UV and LED nail lamps so you can maintain your mani, just got ea