Today, Coolibar President John Barrow and Executive VP of Merchandising Michael Hubsmith answered Facebook fans’ questions about sun protective clothing.
Q. What makes your garments UV Protective?
A. Our collection of SUNTECT fabrics include the best active ingredients found in sunscreens including Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide.
Q. Since you add Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide into the clothes, can it wash out?
A. We actually test all of our materials to make sure the UV protection is permanent. Part of our testing procedure is to wash and dry a fabric 40 times and then follow up with a UV Transmittance test.
Q. What is the difference between UPF and SPF?
A. UPF is for fabrics and means Ultraviolet Protection Factor. SPF is for sunscreens and stands for Sun Protection Factor. One important difference is that UPF tests both UVA and UVB protection levels while SPF only tests UVB.
Q. How much UV protection does normal clothing provide?
A. There is quite a range. Studies in Australia and Germany, that we have replicated here in the US, show that a summer t-shirt may be made of fabric that only provides a UPF of 5 to 10. Another issue is that regular summer clothing is typically designed to show skin rather than cover it, so a lot of the exposure from normal clothing relates to how much skin it covers.
Q. Before a UPF rating is assigned to a garment, how is it tested?
A. It is normally tested on a machine called a spectrophotometer. It has a UV source inside it and sends the UV through the fabric sample. It measures how much UV is transmitted through the fabric. In addition to this test, at Coolibar we test fabrics when new, but more importantly, we also age fabrics by washing them 40 times and exposing them to 100 hours of sunlight, then we do the UPF test again. We want to see fabrics provide UPF 50+ at the end of their life cycle. At Coolibar we guarantee that every garment we sell is as UV Protective on the first day it is worn to the very last day.
Q. How many times can the garments be washed before losing the protective ingredients?
A. Most clothes gradually lose their UV protection over time as they are worn, washed, stretched, and so on. When we are testing fabrics, we want to make sure they are providing UPF 50+ after 40 washings (which we consider to be a typical life cycle). So they will start even more protective than UPF 50+ and still be UPF 50+ a few years later.
Q. Is sun protective clothing superior to sunscreen? How would the use of each by itself compare?
A. We think you need to use a combination of clothing and sunscreen. Clothing provides more reliable protection and is easier to use, but sunscreen is necessary for areas like your face, hands, feet, and so on that aren’t covered by clothes.
Q. In your opinion, what are the top 3 items of sun protective clothing that EVERYONE should own?
A. In my traveling wardrobe, I have a packable bucket hat, a long-sleeve polo, and some sunglasses. So those are the 3 that I take literally everywhere with me.
Q. Do you need to wear sunscreen underneath the Coolibar clothing?
A. No, you will be well protected by the clothes themselves. You still need sunscreen for other areas, like your face, that are not covered by our clothes.
Q. Also, is it only good for a certain time? Like how you have to reapply sunscreen every 2 hours?
A. You can wear our clothes all day in the sun and the protection does not diminish. With sunscreen you do need to reapply every 2 hours.
Q. As I student, I like to dress with the trends, stay fashionable, etc. Is your company looking at broadening the styles available of UPF clothing to reach the demographic that is both concerned about protecting their skin while staying current?
A. Yes we are looking to expand our fashion portfolio as we grow.
Q. What color keeps you the coolest in the sun?
A. In general, most people feel that lighter colors make them feel cooler. However, there is probably a lot more difference between fabrics (weight, weave, wicking, etc) than between colors. We generally try to use very light-weight fabrics that also have special properties to help you feel comfortable in hot weather, e.g. wicking moisture off your skin.
Q. I have lupus but live in the deep south where it is full on sun for 10 months out of the year. I also have 2 young children that are complete water babies. I need something that allows me to be out by the pool or at the beach that will protect me and keep me cool. It is very hot and humid here, and of course even hotter by the pool. I can’t just be an invert with my boys.
A. We design our garments with the idea that you will be in the hot sun when you wear them, so breathability is very important for comfort. We offer several items like our ZnO Beach Pants and Largo ZnO Cover-up that can give you a head to toe coordinated look with full sun protective coverage.
Q. Can I wear non-swimwear products (like the featherweight cover up) in the water and still have 50 UPF protection? Will wearing non swimwear items in the water damage the item?
A. In general, you could wear them in the water without damaging them. However, UV does transmit through water better than through air so when garments get wet they let more UV through than when they are dry. We are considering this when we make items designed to go in the water. Finally, in pools, the chlorine can damage clothes if you were to wear them consistently over time. So I would not recommend wearing non-swimwear in heavily chlorinated water over an extended time.
Q. What is the best way to care for the clothing?
A. Follow the care instructions sewn inside each garment.
Q. Can they go in the dryer?
A. Yes. I put all my Coolibar clothes in the dryer.
Q. I’m thinking about buying a long sleeve swim shirt, but wouldn’t long sleeves make me hot and uncomfortable in the summer?
A. Many of our customers are surprised how cool they are wearing our long-sleeved garments. It’s because they are very light-weight fabrics and are designed to keep you cool.
If you have additional questions regarding Coolibar Sun Protective Clothing, let us know by posting a question on Facebook or writing a comment below. To purchase Coolibar Sun Protective Clothing, visit www.coolibar.com.