WHY DON'T AMERICANS CARRY UMBRELLAS FOR SUN PROTECTION?

During my years carrying a hand-held umbrella for sun protection, I've been acutely aware that I am generally one of only a handful of women in any given crowd who choose this particular form of sun protection. 

 

To me, a hand-held sun umbrella is the easiest, most convenient way to stay comfortable and protected in the sun. Sure, it's not always fun to have to hold something in your hand when you're enjoying time outside, but that seems a small price to pay for not having to deal with a sun hat and sun-protective clothing. In other regions, notably East Asia and Australia, where beautiful skin is prized and the climate heightens the risk for skin cancer, hand-held umbrellas for sun protection are in wide use. Why not in the US?


A study was performed by JR McMichael, J. Ezirike, E. Veledar, JE Rice, and SC Chen to answer this question. They surveyed 382 women, and only 12% reported using an umbrella for sun protection in the preceding year. Their reasons for doing so were what you'd expect: avoiding wrinkles, reducing risk of skin cancer, convenient sun protection.

As for the 88% who didn't carry an umbrella, they cited reasons including desire to keep hands free, inconvenience, and not having thought of doing so. Well, until I invent a chic backpack umbrella, the hands-free problem persists. But I'd argue keeping a PARASUN in your bag (or hand) is no more inconvenient than carrying or wearing a sun hat, and it doesn't mess up your hair or make you hot.

Interestingly, 71% of the non-users said they might start carrying umbrellas for sun protection "if they saw more people doing so." So that's the big hurdle: people don't carry umbrellas for sun protection because other people don't carry umbrellas for sun protection.

I therefore propose that those of us dedicated to the health and beauty of our skin lead the charge, carrying hand-held umbrellas and inspiring the other 71% of people to join us. We'll all be better for it.