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Umbrella Shade Doesn’t Always Prevent Sunburn

When we are lucky enough to have a few scorching beach days in the UK summer, there are two camps of people. The Piz Buin lovers who make sure to religiously slather themselves in sun cream every hour on the hour. And the shade hunters. The people that would much rather prop up their beach umbrella as sun protection and save themselves from the smell and stickiness of sun block.

Now, obviously we are not trying to put you off beach umbrellas - they are an absolute godsend. But new studies suggest that there is a serious edge to sunblock over shade when it comes to those hardcore beach days.

The test, which was carried out by a researcher at Johnson & Johnson compared sun block with an 100 SPF factor against your traditional beach umbrella and the results were pretty conclusive. Three out of every four people using only the beach umbrellas got sunburnt, whereas only one in four of the participants using sunblock got sunburned.

The study was carried out by 80 people who were sent out between 10:00am and 2:00pm. Half were required to sit under the beach umbrella and half to wear sunscreen. In an effort to control the experiment no participants were not allowed to enter the water and the sun block wearers were instructed to reapply at least once every two hours. The umbrella users were instructed to adjust their umbrellas periodically to make sure that they were never out in the direct sun.

Obviously this cannot eliminate all variables in the experiment as there was no way of knowing how often or how thoroughly participants applied their sunblock. Nor does it account for UV rays reflected off the sand, which umbrella users would not have been protected from. There is no way of controlling how central these participants were situated under the shade of their umbrellas or how frequently they shifted position.

So perhaps not as simple a study as it seems, but it still offers one conclusive finding. Neither approach to sun protection was 100% effective. Although we are the biggest umbrella advocates when it comes to serious sun a combined approach of sunblock and shade will offer you the best chance of avoiding that beach day sunburn. So make sure you pack your Piz Buin AND your beach umbrella… and if you’re feeling extra cautious, maybe a big floppy hat too!

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