When you need protection from the sun, “seek out umbrellas that have a UPF rating, which refers to the Ultraviolet Protection Factor,” recommends Marisa Garshick, M.D., a dermatologist with MDCS Dermatology in New York City. “UPF values of >40, 45, 50, 50+ offer excellent protection, protecting against 97.5 – 98% of UV rays.” Beyond UPF rating, look for larger umbrellas, which block more rays than smaller ones (whether you choose a beach-sized or handheld umbrella), and think about whether you’d prefer your umbrella to have a black or reflective coating.
Umbrellas designed for sun protection typically use lightweight polyester or nylon with a black or reflective coating to block rays. Without this coating, ordinary polyester or nylon umbrellas only block 77% of UV radiation. However, the coating you choose depends on your priorities. Dr. Garshick notes that “black coating may offer higher UPF protection and is less likely to peel off” than reflective coating. That said, while reflective coating may eventually peel, it also “keeps the area under the umbrella cooler, particularly when the weather is very hot.” So, umbrellas with a reflective coating are ideal when you’re looking to keep cool as well as protected.
When it comes to the size of your umbrella, know that bigger is better for UV protection. Handheld umbrellas range from 23 to 68 inches, and you should err on the larger side when you can. A lightweight, collapsible umbrella helps make wider canopy sizes more manageable. Though beach umbrellas are usually bigger than handheld ones, you should still look for the most coverage possible, which could simply mean taking care to sit toward the center of the umbrella. The closer you sit to the edge of the shade, the less protection the umbrella provides.
Beach umbrellas tend to provide UV protection from overhead, but your umbrella may also need an adjustable pole or side flaps that form a beach canopy for continued protection as the sun’s angle changes. In windy areas, windproof umbrellas usually feature a double-canopy design that prevents the umbrella from inverting.
Whether you’re walking through the city or lounging on a beach, these UV umbrellas with high UPF ratings will keep you safe from sunburns and skin damage — but, Dr. Garshick notes, “while an umbrella is a helpful addition to protect against UV exposure, it may not provide sufficient protection for extended exposure,” so it’s always good to use a dermatologist-recommended sunscreen, too.
1. A Portable UV Umbrella With A Wide Canopy
With a 42-inch diameter and a reflective coating that provides UPF 50+ protection, the Umenice UV umbrella casts ample shade and helps keep you cooler on scorching hot days, too. The portable design collapses down to less than 12 inches long so it can fit easily in a handbag or backpack. There’s also a handy wrist strap.
With a carrying case, a comfort grip handle, and an automatic open button, this is a convenient on-the-go design, so you’ll always have sun protection at hand when you’re out and about. Plus, you can pick from a handful of different designs.
According to one reviewer: “We used them every day for 6 days, in rain and sun. All four held up perfectly, no problems at all. These were a welcome escape from the hot sun and worked well in those Florida afternoon rain showers. They fit in our small backpacks, are lightweight and so handy with the auto open/close feature.”
2. A Beach Umbrella With Side Panels For Extra UV Protection
This unique UV umbrella from Sport-Brella is a great pick for beach days and outdoor hangouts. The reflective coating on the durable polyester canopy provides UPF 50+ protection and helps keep you cool when the sun is bearing down in the process.
The 52-inch canopy expands to give you a total of 8 feet of shade coverage when you put the side flaps down. These flaps can be held in place with the included ground stakes to provide all-around coverage that doesn’t require adjusting as the sun moves in the sky.
Though this may compromise the side sun protection, the canopy has mesh side windows on either side that you can open to create airflow when you need extra help staying cool. These windows along with the double canopy design also prevent the umbrella from blowing down in strong winds since wind gusts can pass through the umbrella instead of catching on it.
According to one reviewer: “We used this umbrella for a week at the beach […] Kept the sun off but allowed for wind to blow through so kept it cool underneath. So easy to set up and took only seconds.”
3. A Budget-Friendly All-Weather UV Umbrella
For less than $20, this affordable UV umbrella from ABCCANOPY uses a long-lasting black glue coating to provide UPF 50+ protection in a convenient collapsible design. The 39-inch canopy is large enough to provide plenty of shade for one person, and the thick, multilayered fabric provides added UV protection while also making this umbrella extra durable.
The compact umbrella is also waterproof and has flexible resin-coated fiberglass ribs that make this a good pick for windy or rainy climates as well. The all-weather design works in any season so you can keep UV rays off you no matter what time of year it is. Choose from a few solid-colored picks, or some with a vibrant floral design.
According to one reviewer: “I use this for both sun and rain protection when I’m on playground duty. My students initially scoffed that I’d have an umbrella out on a sunny day, until it was a hot sunny day and this umbrella was one of few sources of shade. This thing keeps the sun out. It is objectively cooler underneath. Also works well as a regular umbrella.”
4. A UV Umbrella That Mounts To Your Beach Chair
The Versa-Brella from Sport-Brella boasts a UPF 50+ rating (thanks to a reflective coating underneath) and a universal clamp that makes this great for beach days or just a long, lazy day of relaxing outdoors. Mount it to a chair or put it on a stroller, golf cart, or anything else with a place to clamp this umbrella.
The broad triangular canopy is 40 inches wide and 42 inches long so there’s plenty of shade coverage. It also has a 360-degree swivel joint near the top so you can adjust the angle of the umbrella as needed to keep the sun off even as it moves.
The popular UV umbrella has earned 4.3 stars on Amazon overall after more than 32,000 reviews. It also comes in eight different colors and an extra-large size that’s 44 inches wide and 44 inches long.
According to one reviewer: “With the connectors, you can arrange the umbrella pretty much however you want it. The clamp is good and stable. We were in brutally hot conditions without shade on a really windy day, but we were able to set these umbrellas up on our chairs and beat the heat.”
5. A Windproof UV Umbrella
An extra-large 62-inch canopy provides UPF 50+ protection with this UV umbrella from G4Free. The dense fabric is a thick barrier that is made even more protective with the addition of a silver reflective coating that repels UV rays away from you.
The double canopy design and durable yet flexible fiberglass ribs also make this a great option for windy days. The double-canopy allows air to pass through to prevent the umbrella from inverting. But if winds are strong enough that it inverts, the fiberglass frame can simply be flipped back down into shape without breaking like other frames do.
Thanks to that reflective coating, this can help you stay cooler, and you can also choose between three sizes to find the right balance of portability and coverage. Go down to 54 inches if you want something a little easier to carry, or up to 68 inches if you want an even wider shade area for your handheld umbrella.
According to one reviewer: “I have had this umbrella for a few months now and tested it through some rather harsh storms, this product is very wind resistant, hasn’t folded. This umbrella is also GIANT and light, easily accommodates 2 people.”
6. An Adjustable Beach Umbrella
This classic beach umbrella from MOVTOTOP offers UPF 50+ protection and a 6.5-foot canopy that can be adjusted as needed to keep the sun out no matter where in the sky it is. Though black or reflective coatings can increase UPF protection, there are other ways for a fabric to protect you from the sun. Thick, tightly knit polyester offers protection on its own, especially with a sun-resistant chemical coating. This beach umbrella uses dense 160-gram polyester fabric with a polyacrylate (PA) coating to block harmful rays.
A pretty flower-shaped air vent near the center creates airflow and adds wind resistance without reducing the UV-blocking powers of the umbrella. The adjustable pole can be easily tilted to block the sun with the push of a button. Choose between different shades of blue and green.
According to one reviewer: “It was sunny but a little windy, and because of the design, I can easily switch the angle of the umbrella to change the coverage. Also, setting up is super fast and easy, and the most important thing I want to point out is the weight of the umbrella. It’s super lightweight and compact that you can carry it anywhere without worrying about it getting yourself tired.”
Dr. Marisa Garshick, M.D., board-certified dermatologist at MDCS Dermatology