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SPF vs. UPF—what's the difference?

By Joseph V. Amodio, Newsday on

Published in Fashion Daily News

One advance in clothing and accessories worth looking for in summer (and year-round) is fabric with an "ultraviolet protection factor," or UPF, rating (which indicates how well a fabric blocks the sun's UV rays - with lighter shades and looser weaves generally blocking less sun).

"And if the garment gets wet, it may become transparent and give even less protection," says Dr. Joshua Zeichner, an assistant professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital, a spokesman for the American Academy of Dermatology and a regular on Cooper's Beach in Southampton, N.Y., where he and his family vacation each summer.

"Just because I'm a dermatologist doesn't mean I don't want to enjoy the beach," he says. "It's OK to spend the day outside - you just need to be smart."


That means using broad-spectrum sunscreen (which blocks both UVA and UVB rays) and items bearing a UPF tag. (UPF 50 and above is ideal _that fabric blocks about 97% of UV rays, roughly equal to an SPF 30 sunscreen, says Zeichner.)

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