The FYI on SPF, UPF, UVA and UVB (aka GREAT GOLF SUNSCREEN)

Here’s your guide to deciphering the alphabet soup to determine the importance of SPF and golf sunscreen 

Image of great golf sunscreenIMHO, sun protection ratings are in need of some serious TLC. Between SPF, UPF, UVA and UVB, I want to say WTF. LOL!

Many thanks to cell phones, email and texting for putting such abbreviations into common usage. But if you can’t keep track of all the shorthand, make sure you decipher this one: SPF.

That’s Sun Protection Factor, a rating applied to products so that you know which potions to apply to yourself as a shield for UVB “ultra-violet burning” rays. Mark Wishner, founder of the Sun SafeTee Program aimed at golfers, gave GGG (that’s GottaGoGolf Magazine, FYI) the 411 on all of the abbreviations, and he said that though UVA (ultra-violet aging) rays also are dangerous, ratings don’t yet apply.

We want golf sunscreen protection from both rays, so Sun SafeTee recommends looking for the words broad spectrum coverage in the advertising or on the label of an SPF-rated product. Five other points worth remembering when it comes to your golf sunscreen:

  • SPF measures how many more times a product will allow you to stay in the sun without you burning versus not using it. In other words if you were to go out in the sun without any protection and it would take 10 minutes before you start to burn, an SPF of 15 will give you approximately 15 times more protection than your body’s natural protection, or 150 minutes.
  • Stuff wears off, so reapply your golf sunscreen at the turn.
  • UPF ratings do apply for clothes and refer to both types of rays. Again, the higher the number, the better — a solid white T shirt might be a 5, meaning one-fifth of all of the rays penetrate. The most sun-screening clothes top 50, meaning only one-50th, or 2 percent, of the rays get in.
  • Some products boost the UPF of clothes. Rit’s Sun Guard laundry treatment — online for about $20 per six-pack — dispenses a 30 UPF.
  • For more information or to contribute to the Sun SafeTee Program, visit www.sunsafetee.org.

This article appeared in the July 2011 issue of GottaGoGolf Magazine.

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