Raw Materials

2021-09-01

Wool and UV: How wool provides protection against sunlight

Exposure to sunlight is an important requirement for human health. Sunlight regulates moods and emotions, and also provides physical benefits such as catalysing the body’s production of Vitamin D and other vital nutrients. However, overexposure to sunlight comes with number of risks, ranging from sunburn and dehydration to the possibility of skin cancer. It is very important that we wear clothing that provides protection against overexposure. Not many people know that wool is particularly efficient in this regard.

The International Wool Textile Organisation (IWTO) looks at the protective benefits of wool and highlights a powerful example from the sporting world.

How Wool Protects Against UV Light

Separate research projects by Hilfiker (1996), Reinert (1997) and Haerri (2000) have shown that wool – Merino fibre in particular – is a far better barrier against UV light than any other fabric. Wool absorbs radiation throughout the UV spectrum while cotton, nylon, acrylic and silk are very poor absorbers of UV, absorbing only limited wavelengths of the ultraviolet range. A 2001 study of the UV protection abilities of 236 different fabrics found that more than half of the test fibres fell short of the European standard for UV protection. Merino wool was one of the fabrics that passed all of the tests conducted during the study, while nylon, linen, viscose and cotton all fared extremely poorly. The bottom line is that Merino wool, among its many other benefits, provides unparalleled protection against UV rays. Clothing manufacturers – especially those who produce garments for various sporting codes – are well aware of the protective strength of Merino wool, and make good use of it in their designs.

Glenmuir Golf Apparel – A Prime Example of The Protective Benefits of Merino Wool

Golf has surged in popularity since the beginning of 2020. According to Mikhel Ruia, Managing Director of golf apparel specialist Glenmuir, the COVID-19 pandemic actually prompted an increase in the popularity of golf, while other sports experienced a negative impact.

“Golf has seen growth like no other sport on a global scale over the past two years. In 2020 alone the number of adult golfers across the UK and Ireland increased by 2.1 million players to 5.2 million, the highest figure recorded by The R&A, together with England Golf, Golf Ireland, Scottish Golf and Wales Golf. Interestingly, of these golfers, 36% identified as returning or new golfers whilst 16% of players were recorded as trying golf for the first time because of the pandemic,” Ruia says.


The natural social distancing that comes with the sport has made it a great option for recreation during the pandemic. Ruia adds: “Many people also found that being out on the golf course not only provided physical benefits post lockdown but was equally important for their mental health with research carried out by Sports Marketing Surveys finding that among lapsed/returning golfers, 44% identified that they had experienced some negative impact on their mental health as a result of the pandemic. Of these, 92% identified playing golf had a positive impact.”

Photo credit: Wool golf styles by Glenmuir
Photo credit: Wool golf styles by Glenmuir


Golf has many benefits, but since it involves spending hours in the sun, it also puts players at risk of UV exposure and all its possible consequences. It is therefore vital that golfers wear clothing that can offer proper protection. This is one of the reasons that Glenmuir has chosen to fashion its golfing gear from Merino wool. Its breathability and sustainability are also important factors, of course.

“Our Merino wool sweaters are highly breathable, actively antibacterial, odour-resisting and offer + 40 UV protection, all key requirements for the modern golfer. Perhaps the most important aspect of merino wool is that the fibre is temperature regulating which can both absorb and release moisture keeping golfers insulated when temperatures drop but cool when the heat is on,” Ruia explains.


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