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Open Access Open Badges Research article

An evaluation of UV protection imparted by cotton fabrics dyed with natural colorants

Ajoy K Sarkar

Author Affiliations

Design and Merchandising, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado, USA

BMC Dermatology 2004, 4:15  doi:10.1186/1471-5945-4-15

Published: 27 October 2004



The ultraviolet properties of textiles dyed with synthetic dyes have been widely reported in literature. However, no study has investigated the ultraviolet properties of natural fabrics dyed with natural colorants. This study reports the Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) of cotton fabrics dyed with colorants of plant and insect origins.


Three cotton fabrics were dyed with three natural colorants. Fabrics were characterized with respect to fabric construction, weight, thickness and thread count. Influence of fabric characteristics on Ultraviolet Protection Factor was studied. Role of colorant concentration on the ultraviolet protection factor was examined via color strength analysis.


A positive correlation was observed between the weight of the fabric and their UPF values. Similarly, thicker fabrics offered more protection from ultraviolet rays. Thread count appears to negatively correlate with UPF. Dyeing with natural colorants dramatically increased the protective abilities of all three fabric constructions. Additionally, within the same fabric type UPF values increased with higher depths of shade.


Dyeing cotton fabrics with natural colorants increases the ultraviolet protective abilities of the fabrics and can be considered as an effective protection against ultraviolet rays. The UPF is further enhanced with colorant of dark hues and with high concentration of the colorant in the fabric.