When you’re at the beach or park, a sun or beach shelter is a good option for getting some shade and protecting your skin from harsh UV rays. They’re also a good choice for families with babies, as sunscreen isn’t recommended for babies under 6 months.
Why seek shade?
Exposure to UV rays contributes to skin ageing and is the main cause of skin cancer. One way to limit your risk is to seek shade.
The best shade is staying indoors, but other options include natural shade (from trees with a big canopy – the denser the foliage, the better), built shade (includes shade sails and awnings) and portable shade (includes tents, shelters and umbrellas).
Not all shade is created equal and UV radiation can get through lower-quality and smaller shade structures. Generally, the less blue sky you can see while under shade, the greater the protection. UV radiation can also reflect off surfaces such as concrete, sand and water.
It’s still important to be sun smart even in the shade. For the best protection, apply sunscreen to exposed skin, protect your eyes by wearing sunglasses and cover up with suitable clothing and a good hat.
What to consider when buying a sun shelter
Check for a standard. Look for a shelter that complies with the Australian standard AS 4174:2018 for knitted and woven shade fabrics.
Check the UVE rating. Some shelters claim to have an ultraviolet effectiveness (UVE) rating. UVE is a measure of the shade fabric’s ability to block UV radiation. A UVE of 80-90.9% is effective, 91-94.9% very effective, 95+% most effective.
Ignore UPF ratings. Some shelters make ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) claims. But these claims should only be used on clothing, and it isn’t appropriate for shade shelters to make them.
Size. Consider how many people you intend to fit under your shelter so you can buy the right size.
Weight and set up. Is it light enough to carry on your own? Is setting up and packing down a one-person job, or will you need extra help? You don’t want a struggle doing either while standing on scorching sand.
Built-in floor. These are good for families with younger children and help stop sand from getting everywhere.