Buy Shade Makers
- It has a high sun-protection rating. Fabrics that have been lab-tested to determine how well they block both UVA and UVB rays are rated with an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF), which indicates how much of the sun's radiation they absorb. A UPF of 50+ provides maximum protection, says Elizabeth Martin, M.D., a dermatologist in Hoover, Alabama. The UPF test is tedious, so some products may state their protective ability as a percentage rating. For example: "Blocks 70% of UV rays." In that case, you want a rating as close to 100 percent as possible.
- You can set it up and take it down easily. Does it take one person or two to assemble? Is it lightweight and comfortable to carry? Test it before you get to the beach.
- The coverage is angled. The sun is only directly overhead once each day, and sunlight can reflect, so look for a product that tilts or has wall panels, says Arielle Kauvar, M.D., clinical professor of dermatology at New York University School of Medicine. "I see a lot of tents that are up really high on four posts, but down at the bottom you're actually getting a lot of sun exposure."
- It allows a breeze. If it's a cabana or a tent with sides, make sure it has air vents, Dr. Martin says, because it's easy for children, especially babies, to get overheated. Fabrics that keep out rain typically have less ventilation than more meshlike materials designed only to protect from the sun.