At Cabana Life, we love the beach. We love nature. We love the outdoors. But we also know the dangers of exposure to UV rays. Gone are the days of baking on the sand, wading in the water to cool off. We prefer to stay cool and shaded even on the sunniest of days. In addition to slathering ourselves with sunscreen and pulling on a long-sleeved rashguard, we also pack a beach umbrella on our outdoor adventures. Here are some tips for choosing the best beach umbrella for sun protection.
Traditional Beach Umbrella for Sun Protection
If you’re thinking that you can get away with the traditional beach umbrella—you know, the kind that looks like what you’d use in the rain, only bigger—you should think twice. Even if you’re in the tiny patch of shade that those types of umbrellas create, you are still exposed to UV rays. In fact, about 84 percent of the sun’s rays can still hit you while you’re hiding out under your umbrella.
UPF Beach Umbrella for Sun Protection
Just like Cabana Life sun protective clothing, some umbrellas are made with UPF fabric. UPF is ultraviolet protection factor, a measure of how well a fabric protects you from UV rays. That’s great if you’re sitting under an umbrella with UPF 50+ protection. But if you can still see the sky, you can still get exposed to UV rays. Unless it’s huge and has sides, the true UPF of an umbrella may only be 3-6.
It’s All In the Shape
UVB rays, the ones that cause sunburn, can reflect off of surfaces like sand and water to reach your skin indirectly. If you can see the sun, you can be exposed to UV rays even if they’re not hitting you directly. Think about it this way: The more sky you can see from the comfort of your shade, the more exposure you still have to UV rays.
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, factors that go into determining the best umbrella for sun protection are its size, the direction it faces and its relation to other shade structures. A beach umbrella with sides and a back provides more protection than a traditional umbrella. If you set up your structure under a tree or among plenty of other structures, you’ll be exposed to fewer UV rays than if you’re the only beach umbrella on your stretch of sand.
The good news is that there are plenty of options if you want a beach umbrella for sun protection. The Sport-Brella is large enough for the whole family to sit underneath. The Coleman Road Trip Beach Shade provides even more all-around protection from the sun. E-Z Up Canopy Shelters can be customized with side walls to provide maximum UV protection.
A canopy or beach shelter doesn’t keep you completely covered, however. Make sure that you still wear sunscreen on the beach, and swap out your teeny bikini for a rashguard and swim shorts for the ultimate sun protection.