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New Dermatology Study Finds Beach Umbrellas Are Not Sufficient for Sun Protection

by kelly / January, 25 2017 01:30

Beach umbrellas on the beach

Heading to the beach soon for a little summer vacation in the middle of winter? Don’t just rely on your beach umbrella to protect you from the sun. A new study recently published in JAMA Dermatology found that a beach umbrella alone was not enough and is less effective than sunscreen at preventing sunburns.

Sunscreen Is Better than An Umbrella

First up, some of the folks conducting the study were employed by or are consultants for Johnson & Johnson – they make and sell sunscreen. So that is a caveat. However, JAMA Dermatology is one of the if not the most respected dermatology journals in the United States. So there is real science behind the study.

The study looked at 81 participants both male and female. It broke them out into two groups and each spent 3½ hours in the sun.

  • Half of the participants were given only a beach umbrella
  • Half of the participants were given only sunscreen

78% of the participants that used beach umbrellas developed sunburns vs. 25% of the participants that used sunscreen.

A Combo Approach Is Best

Now, we don’t want to imply that you shouldn’t use a beach umbrella. We also don’t think it’s a great idea to sit in the open sun for 3½ hours. So while the results showed that on their own sunscreen offers better protection than an umbrella, the overall summary is that you need a combination approach to sun protection.

A combination approach includes sunblock plus reducing your time in the sun, seeking shade during peak sun hours and wearing clothing, hats & sunglasses. Don’t take our word for it, hear it directly from one of the researchers:

“The study shows that you can’t rely on a single protection method alone,” said the lead author, Hao Ou-Yang, a researcher at Johnson & Johnson. “Reduce overall time in the sun, wear clothes and a hat, seek shade, and absolutely think about using high-S.P.F. sunscreen to protect yourself.”

Take Care of Your Skin

The bottom line is your skin needs care and protection from multiple sources. So definitely use sunscreen and add in other sun protection measures. To find even more helpful suncare information check out our post “Top 5 Sun Protection Tips” or our Suncare Smarts series.

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