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Do parasols offer sufficient UV protection?

In 2008, Stiftung Ökotest tested parasols and beach shells to see how well these products protect against UV radiation.

The result: of a total of 38 beach umbrellas and parasols tested, nine offered only “insufficient” and four “inadequate” UV protection. However, some sun protection products also did well: Ten parasols were rated “very good” or “good”, three were “satisfactory”. With such striking differences, the main question for consumers is how to recognise a parasol with adequate UV protection and what is responsible for ensuring that a parasol provides sufficient protection against UV radiation.

The optimal parasol should in any case fulfil a few criteria

If a parasol is to provide shade for guests in a catering establishment for years to come, for example, there are even more factors that should be taken into account.

So there is a lot to consider when choosing the right parasol if you value sufficient UV protection on the one hand and a robust and durable product on the other. But if you are aware of which criteria are important to you, you can also find the right parasol.

ALBATROS 6,0 x 6,0 m
ALBATROS 6,0 x 6,0 m

What is UV radiation and what effect does it have on humans?

Ultraviolet radiation, or UV radiation for short, is electromagnetic radiation that is invisible to the human eye and has a wavelength shorter than that of light visible to humans.

The human skin consists of three layers: the epidermis, the dermis and the hypodermis. UV-A radiation, which has a wavelength of 315 to 380 mm, reaches the dermis. There, it causes direct pigmentation, i.e. a tan that lasts only a few hours and is hardly capable of providing light protection. In addition, collagens are damaged, causing the skin to lose elasticity and age prematurely, and free radicals are formed, resulting in a high risk of melanoma. However, UV-A radiation is only slightly sunburn-producing.

The shorter-wave UV-B radiation, on the other hand, has by no means exclusively harmful effects on the human body. Rather, it causes vitamin D to be formed in the epidermis. This function of UV-B rays is not only vital, but even cancer-preventive. In addition, UV-B rays cause a long-term, delayed tanning, which has a photoprotective effect. However, they are also highly sunburn-producing and are considered the main cause of skin cancer.

The skin can protect itself from harmful UV radiation for a certain period of time. This self-protection time of the skin varies from person to person and depends on the skin type. Generally speaking, fair-skinned people can stay in the sun for a shorter period of time without having to fear harmful consequences than people whose skin and hair are darker.

Type Features Reaction of unprotected skin to 30 minutes of tanning in June Self-protection time of the skin Self-protection time through the parasol
1 fair skin, freckles, blond or red hair, blue or green eyes always sunburn, never tan 5 - 10 Minutes 200 - 400 Minutes 300 - 600 Minutes 400 - 800 Minutes
2 fair skin, blond hair, blue or green eyes always sunburn, light tan 10 - 20 Minutes 400 - 800 Minutes 600 - 1200 Minutes 800 - 1600 Minutes
3 dark hair, blue eyes light sunburn, good tan 20 - 30 Minutes 800 - 1200 Minutes 1200 - 1800 Minutes 1600 - 2400 Minutes
4 dark skin, dark or black hair, brown eyes no sunburn, always tan approx. 45 Minutes approx. 1800 Minutes approx. 2700 Minutes approx. 3600 Minutes
5 dark skin, black hair, dark eyes no sunburn approx. 60 Minutes approx. 2400 Minutes approx. 3600 Minutes approx. 4800 Minutes
6 black skin, black hair, black eyes no sunburn approx. 90 Minutes approx. 3600 Minutes approx. 5400 Minutes approx. 7200 Minutes
Anna Shvets @ Pexels.com
Anna Shvets @ Pexels.com

How can you protect yourself from harmful UV radiation?

There are different ways to protect yourself from harmful UV rays. In any case, it is advisable not to expose oneself to the sun's rays without protection in order to avoid long-term consequences, primarily skin cancer.

Sunscreens

If you are going to be in the sun, it is essential to apply a sunscreen with the highest possible sun protection factor beforehand.Here it is extremely important to apply the cream in good time, i.e. some time before you start sunbathing. It is also important to apply the product generously. The choice of sun protection factor should depend on the individual skin type and the other circumstances, i.e. first and foremost on the location and duration of the stay in the sun. Sunscreen products should always be used in addition to other measures, such as protective clothing and spending most of the time in the shade.

Clothes

Clothing is one of the oldest means humans have used to protect themselves from the sun's rays. In addition to normal everyday clothing, through which residual UV radiation still penetrates in most cases - there are also special fabrics that offer above-average UV protection. The focus of the development of such textiles is in Australia. Young children in particular should never be in the sun without protective clothing and sunscreen with a high sun protection factor.

Headgear is also essential here. Although hair provides some protection from the sun's rays to the exposed head, it is recommended to wear a wide-brimmed hat or a peaked cap to avoid sunstroke and also to protect the eyes.

Stay in the shade

Probably the most effective way to protect yourself from the harmful effects of sun exposure is to stay in the shade. Of course, this is not always practical, but especially in summer during midday, it makes sense to avoid the sun altogether.

Early on, people began to make sunshades or parasols for this purpose. The first depictions of parasols in Egypt, Persia and China can be found as early as antiquity. This makes the parasol much older than the umbrella. Initially, the parasol was always carried in the hand, which is still common in some regions, for example in Asia. It was not until the 20th century that the standing parasol was developed, as we know it today from cafés, for example.


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