Plus-Size UPF Swimwear: What Is It and How Does It Work?

Plus-Size UPF Swimwear: What Is It and How Does It Work?

When it’s time to find new plus-size swimsuits for an upcoming vacation or swimming season, you need more than something that looks good. Today’s need for sun protection is higher than ever, especially since over five million skin cancer cases are diagnosed each year.

Since prolonged sun exposure is directly linked to skin cancer, protecting your skin from UVA and UVB rays is a scientifically proven way to reduce your risk of developing skin cancer in your body. How does plus-size sun protection swimwear work, and why is it better for you than other types of suits? Here’s how this advanced fabric works for your health.

What Is UPF?

According to the Skin Cancer Association, UPF stands for Ultraviolet Protection Factor, and it is a rating scale to determine how much UVA and UVB protection a fabric provides. The numbers are similar to the protection levels you see on sunblock bottles—but with a slight difference. For example, UPF 50 clothing accounts for UVA and UVB protection, while an SPF 50 sunblock rating only accounts for UVB protection. Specifically, UPF 50 means that it allows 1/50th, or 2%, of the sun’s rays to penetrate the fabric without sunblock. For perspective, a typical cotton shirt has a UPF 5 rating, which lets in around 20% of the sun’s rays.

The Skin Cancer Association has stringent standards for fabrics that pass their sun-protective requirements. At a minimum, the fabric must have a UPF 30 rating or block 1/30th of UVB and UVA rays. This equates to allowing just 3.3% of the sun to penetrate the fabric. The Skin Cancer Association considers ratings between UPF 30 to UPF 49 to offer good protection and rates anything above UPF 50 as excellent. For instance, plus-size one-piece swimsuits with UPF 50 fabrics offer instant sun protection with modest coverage to last for as long as you want to be out by the water. Simply put on sunblock on any exposed areas and wear a hat and sunglasses to protect your eyes and face.

UPF Fabrics: How Do They Work?

UPF fabrics are specially designed to block out more sun rays than a typical article of clothing. Every clothing has a UPF rating, and the more densely woven it is, the more UVA and UVB sun rays they will block out. UPF fabrics can absorb or reflect sun rays. For example, plus-size swim tops made of quick-drying, high-tech synthetic fabrics are good at deflecting sun rays, while loose cotton plus-size swimsuit cover-ups are good at absorbing the sun. However, most cover-ups function like a typical T-shirt and should also be worn with sunblock underneath.

How to Get the Most Out of UPF Protection

A UPF 50 swimsuit or cover-up only keeps its high rating when it’s kept in the right conditions. When the fabric gets damaged, thins out, or stretches, it can lose its sun-protection power. Also, getting wet can affect its effectiveness. Here’s how to get the most out of your sun-protective fabrics.

  • Don’t stretch it: Sun-protective clothing is the most effective when the fibers are tightly woven. When they stretch, the fibers are pulled apart and let in more UV light. Wearing swimwear and rash guards that fit instead of stretching beyond capacity will ensure they’re providing the right amount of sun protection. Also, something like a pair of plus-size swim shorts for women can offer excellent coverage without feeling too stretchy.
  • Get more coverage: The more skin that you cover, the more area that gets guaranteed protection from the sun. A long-sleeve plus-size rash guard can be worn in and out of the water and keep the sun off your shoulders, arms, and back—three places that are usually prone to sunburns. Even though cover-ups have less UPF protection, they help when you need some extra coverage. Even a simple cotton throw can block out at least 80% of all UVA and UVB rays.
  • Mind the colors: UPF clothing of all shades offers excellent sun protection, but dark colors usually absorb more radiation than light colors. Getting wet can also affect the performance of lighter-colored fabrics more than dark fabrics. However, if your swimwear or cover-up is rated UPF 50, you can be confident that you’re getting highly rated skin protection even if the coverage varies slightly.

Plus-size UPF swimwear offers excellent UV-ray protection for extended hours of fun in the sun. Find your next favorite sun protection solution today!

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