I Tried A Parasol For A Week For Sun Protection

By Minji

  • I love parasols to protect my skin from the sun
  • Despite being a common fixture in Seoul, I've always felt uneasy about using one in the U.S. until now...it even helps with social distancing!
  • Read on for more details on why parasols are worth incorporating into your daily skincare habits    

Despite being somewhat of a hoarder back in the day, when I first arrived in the U.S. about 17 years ago from Seoul, I came with just two pieces of luggage.  To say the least, it was an extremely selective process to determine which of my many prized possessions would cross oceans, mountains and deserts to make their way to this new land.  One of the items that “no-brainer” made the short list was my beloved parasol, or UV protection umbrella as some call it.

Unfortunately, despite having traveled close to 7,000 miles to a new home in NYC, my parasol never saw the light of day.  I still vividly remember my American friend cautioning me to never carry one around in the city.  Back then where I lived in New York, it wasn’t uncommon to hear of mugging cases and he was sure if I carried my dainty yellow parasol around, I would be mistaken for a “crazy rich Asian tourist” or something and pay the price. 

This scared me enough to shelve my beloved (a common fixture in Seoul) for more than a decade … until now.  I realized within this new world of masks, elaborate face coverings and other social distancing measures, a parasol might no longer stand out.  I decided to put it to the test and carried one around every day for a week.  My theory checked out – not one stare or strange look.  I’m in the clear now and couldn’t be happier to reunite with my precious parasol!

Obviously, the reason I love my parasol so much is because of the sun protection it gives my skin. Similar to a hat, it should never be considered a substitute for sunscreen, but it adds a layer of stylish protection from the biggest enemy to healthy skin. 

Dr. Yoon says the best approach is to apply sunscreen and also use a parasol. The reason is that neither of them is 100% UV-resistant. In the case of a parasol, it is not possible to block the UV rays reflected from the surfaces beneath you. Also, sunscreen regardless of how effective it is or how high the SPF number, can’t block 100% of harmful rays. 

There are some pros and cons when you compare it to daily hat wearing.    

The biggest con is that unlike a hat, you have to carry it around.  So if you’re ever in the market for one, it’s important to make sure you get one that’s made of light material and easy to carry.  Make sure it folds easily into small form so you can stick it in your bag too. 

The benefits over a hat are that it will never mess up your hair!  Also, I like how you can angle and shift it to protect against the sun better regardless of how UV rays might be hitting you at any particular moment.  Another benefit in the world we live today is that parasols can help with social distancing...it makes it harder for people to come close to you!   

If the thought of a parasol intrigues you, be sure to look for the ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) on the label. Any fabric used for sun protection should have a UPF of 30 or higher – this is also why carrying around a regular umbrella won’t help as much. 

In addition, have fun with it and pick something cute and stylish. When it comes to skincare, it’s all about cultivating sustainable habits that will last you a lifetime so you want to make sure it’s an enjoyable undertaking and not another chore to be completed!