General Cycling Discussion - Am I getting ripped off on this supposedly SPF shirt?
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05-14-10, 03:10 PM
I bicycle to work during the warmer months (I'm a wimp when it comes to cold weather) and I'm getting ready to start again this year.
I tend to burn easily, and even when I don't burn, I've noticed that cycling seems to give me an uneven tan (with tanned arms but pale legs). So I'm trying to protect my upper body from the sun. I bought this top which supposedly has an SPF:
It just arrived, and when I opened the package I happened to be standing near a window. I could clearly see light shining through the top as I held it up. I couldn't imagine how this could possibly protect me from the sun, so I looked at the website for the product manufacturer, Canari. Their listing for this item did not mention SPF.
So I emailed Team Estrogen, where I ordered it from, and this is what they wrote:
"Team Estrogen actually paid to have these jerseys tested at Suncare Research Laboratories for its UV protection factor. The UPF rating was determined to be over 30. If you need the actual proof, I can find out if we can send you the results via a pdf file."
I still don't get how this could protect me from UV rays. I thought SPF tops had a tight knit to keep sunlight out. As mentioned on the Team Estrogen site, it has a waffle knit, but it's clearly not a thick tight knit throughout.
05-14-10, 03:34 PM
Not ripped off, but mislead maybe. According to this page, 30 rating isn't anything special. 50 is and described as being tightly woven fabs. 30 seems to be normal summerwear according to this site. Idon't knwo much about the issue but just reading this, it seems 30 won't help you much as far a protection.
05-14-10, 06:23 PM
"I wear this jersey all summer long--even temps in the upper 90's. It is so light and comfortable and I don't have to slather sunscreen on my arms! Even with sunscreen I'd still have the 'farmer tan' line on my arms with short sleeve jerseys. The price is SO reasonable compared to other cycling jerseys, too. I love it so much, I bought one in almost every color! :-)" - Review from website
It will probably do the job,wear and test it out. I have Pearl Izumi's Sun Sleeve and didn't get a tan or burn from the shorts up wearing them with a jersey for a 6 hour ride. No sunscreen except on legs and face.
05-14-10, 06:34 PM
The purpose of sunscreen is to protect you from UV light, which you can't see. For example, sunblock is relatively impervious to UV, but completely transparent to regular light. So the visibility test isn't necessarily too meaningful.
I sunburn easily too, but I don't think I've ever gotten sunburned through clothing- maybe if I wore more nylon type stuff, that would be a problem, but with any regular clothes, it's just never an issue.
Something else to consider is that if you use an SPF -XX sunblock, that's the rating when you put it on, but it may be mostly gone after 6 or 8 hours, but that shirt won't wear off like that.
05-14-10, 06:46 PM
As Beanz indicated, they probably aren't lying, just being misleading. Most clothing, except something like a really thin white undershirt, will have an SPF of 30 or more. So I'm pretty sure this jersey meets their claim - but so would almost any other jersey you could buy. If you like the way the jersey looks and feels then go ahead and use it - but not because of its SPF rating.
Note that the SPF factor of 30 or more for regular clothing is entirely adequate except for rare individuals who have unusual sensitivity. The rating means that wearing that clothing you can stay out in the sun up to 30 times as long as you could without any protection. So if you're out for the entire 6-hour period of the day where the sun is most intense, you'll only get as much UV exposure as being outside with unprotected skin for 12 minutes. Unless you're so sun-sensitive that you wouldn't risk those 12 minutes on bare skin then you shouldn't worry about spending all day outside with clothing covering much of you and adequate sunscreen on the rest (and keeping the sunscreen at SPF30 or more would require periodic reapplication).
Also, any black or very dark shirt should have a high SPF. The dyes used for those are also usually good UV blockers. Unbleached cotton is also good.
The only reason to look for a specific SPF-tested cloth is if you need something light colored and thin -- those are all characteristics which are associated with lower SPF. Alternatively, there are products like Sungard which you can wash your clothes in to increase the SPF -- basically a fabric dye which is transparent in visible wavelengths, so it works best on dye-able fabrics like cotton and rayon.
05-14-10, 10:14 PM
I wear these in the summer: http://www.performancebike.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/Product_10052_10551_1003729_-1_1511001_1511000_1527004
I have done all-day rides that started at dawn, and ended after sunset.
I have *never* been burned, and in fact, barely tan through them.
The material looks like a waffle-weave gauze.
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