The 10 Best Parasols

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This wiki has been updated 33 times since it was first published in February of 2016. Everyone knows that long-term exposure to the sun can damage your skin. If you plan on spending lots of time outside, protect yourself from UV rays with one of these elegant parasols. They're particularly useful for brides having a summer wedding, and also make great props for stage plays and photo shoots. Plus, they're a more fashionable alternative to visors or baseball caps. When users buy our independently chosen editorial selections, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.

1. UV-Blocker

2. Totes Ruffle Stick

3. RainStoppers Women's

Editor's Notes

June 26, 2020:

One of the first things we noticed when revisiting this list was its lack of heavy-duty options whose first priority was sun protection with decoration being an afterthought. With that in mind, we went about reformatting our selections to include a balance of charming, appealing options perfect for cosplay, costumes, parties, weddings, and photoshoots, as well as designs that offer formidable sun protection to the tune of UPF 50+.

We removed the JapanBargain Oriental, which is charming but flimsy, to make room for the Umenice Travel, a higher quality, yet still budget-friendly, option that provides UPF 50+ protection in addition to an extremely lightweight body that makes it easy to take along with you to the beach or theme park. We said goodbye to the Outgeek Victoria Pagoda, which is similar in design to the popular Kung Fu Smith Vintage, and replaced it with the Coolibar Sodalis, a selection that straddles the line between functional and attractive with its light rose pink coloring.

We supplanted the Topwedding Classic, which became unavailable, with the UV-Blocker, a premium-grade item that will hold up on even the hottest days lounging, walking, or hiking. It features an extremely thoughtful design that works to keep you cool and adequately protected from both sun and rain. Finally, we brought on the Totes Ruffle Stick to replace the Firefly Imports Homeford, as it's actually a functioning umbrella on top of being an excellent addition to a wedding or garden party. It's priced just right for casual use and can be easily personalized with custom designs.

Special Honors

Il Marchesato Hailing from the Piedmont region of Italy, Il Marchesato offers deluxe handmade parasols created with silk-like polyester fabrics that provide 50+ UPF sun protection. Each design is vibrant and eye-catching, with an array of premium leather and silver and rhodium-plated handles wrought in intricate designs and embellished with Swarovski crystals.

Etsy Designer If you're looking for something different from the mass-produced lacy and frilly items on the market, the vendors at Etsy have a plethora of options on hand. Choose from a wide selection brimming with appealing details like fringe and charms and unique and interesting prints in a variety of bold colors.

4. Coolibar Sodalis

5. Honeystore Princess

6. Umenice Travel

7. Glodeals Oil Painting

8. Kung Fu Smith Vintage

9. MiiHome Ladies Folding

10. TopTie Bridal

What's The Difference Between A Parasol And An Umbrella?

These two items are typically made for different purposes, but sometimes have overlap in their uses.

Parasols and umbrellas have what appear to be nearly identical designs. But if you took a parasol out on a rainy day, you may find that you get soaked. Likewise, if you grabbed your umbrella on a sunny day, you may discover that you suffer a sunburn. These two items are typically made for different purposes, but sometimes have overlap in their uses. Both parasols and umbrellas feature some fabric that is pulled over hinges that resemble spokes on a wheel. Some can have as many as 16 hinges and sections, while others may only have four hinges and resulting sections. Both parasols and umbrellas can retract when not in use. Many umbrellas have curved handles so that you can hang them and allow them to drip out their water. Parasols traditionally have straight handles, but some feature curved ones to make them easier to carry.

Parasols are intended for sun protection and umbrellas are for rain protection. As such, the canopies of parasols are not usually made from waterproof materials. Instead, they're made from light fabrics like cotton or lace. Some parasols are coated with a waterproof agent or interwoven with a waterproof material to protect against rain, but those are add-ons and not standard for the product. Parasol handles aren't typically waterproof, either. You may find ones made from wood or other materials that should not get wet. The canopies of umbrellas are made from materials that are both waterproof and durable to withstand the pounding of raindrops. Umbrella canopies are typically made of nylon or plastic, and their handles are made from waterproof materials like fiberglass, stainless steel, or a finished wood. Umbrellas can protect against the sun if they have opaque canopies. Those made with clear, plastic canopies cannot protect against UV rays.

Another important difference between these two items is that parasols are often meant to be decorative, as well as useful. They might feature far more elaborate designs than umbrellas, sometimes flaunting ruffles, ribbons, beading, embroidery, and artwork. While some umbrellas also feature decorative elements, they won't have the texture of parasols that comes from the aforementioned ornamentation.

A Brief History Of Parasols And Umbrellas

Parasols and umbrellas may have played symbolical roles long before they were used for sun or rain protection. Ancient Hindu mythology tells of a god who carried an umbrella into hell for spiritual protection, and ancient Chinese rituals often featured images of gods holding parasols. There have been versions of parasols found dating back several millennia, but models that resemble modern varieties didn't appear until around 4,000 years ago in ancient Egypt, China, and Assyria. Most of the original parasol canopies were made from natural materials, such as eucalyptus, palm branches, and leaves from trees. Eventually, the makers of these items found ways to use animal skins and cloth in the canopies, offering more protection from the sun.

Eventually, the makers of these items found ways to use animal skins and cloth in the canopies, offering more protection from the sun.

Due to their high cost, parasols as we know them today, were once exclusively used by royalty, nobility, and those of very high social ranking. These individuals didn't even carry their own parasols, but rather had servants hold them over their heads to protect them from the elements. Some sources suggest that parasols used to serve as more of a social distinction than a useful item.

Around the 1st millennium B.C.E., wealthy women in Rome and Greece began carrying parasols as fashion accessories. Eventually, these items found their way to continental Europe, where they became so popular that by the 16th century, high-society females in Italy, England, and France often had over a dozen of them, one to match every outfit. During the 16th-century Renaissance, pale skin was a desirable trait and status symbol that showed an individual did not have to endure outdoor, manual labor. Throughout the 18th century and even into the early 19th century, parasols were considered an essential part of any woman's wardrobe in Europe and America.

What To Look For In A Parasol

When you plan on spending the summer in your beach chair on the sand, or in the risers next to the race track, you're going to be exposed to a lot of ultraviolet radiation. If that's the case, make sure your parasol is made from material that protects against those harmful, invisible UV rays, as well as visible light. That way, you'll stay cool and safeguard your skin. You'll also want a large canopy, so you can move your head around without popping out of its shade. Ideally, you should get a lightweight parasol for those times you need to walk in the sun.

Try a paper model featuring a crane or cherry blossoms if you're taking pictures in a Japanese garden.

When it comes to durability, look for a model with a bend-resistant frame. We all know that irritating experience of having the hinges of a parasol or umbrella bend, making it impossible to properly collapse it for storage. You might also consider an extended metal tip on the top if you like using your closed parasol as a pseudo walking cane, but don't want to scuff the canopy. Though a parasol isn't technically made for the rain, you may still want a rust-resistant handle and some waterproof coating on the canopy, in case you get caught in a shower.

If you're just looking for a prop parasol for a photo shoot or costume, there are tons of budget-friendly options boasting every type of design you can imagine. You can choose a ruffled or ribboned variety if you're headed to the Renaissance fair. Try a paper model featuring a crane or cherry blossoms if you're taking pictures in a Japanese garden. If you want a more Victorian Era aesthetic, carry a lace or beaded parasol and match it with some silk gloves.

Gia Vescovi-Chiordi
Last updated by Gia Vescovi-Chiordi

Born in Arizona, Gia is a writer and autodidact who fled the heat of the desert for California, where she enjoys drinking beer, overanalyzing the minutiae of life, and channeling Rick Steves. After arriving in Los Angeles a decade ago, she quickly nabbed a copywriting job at a major clothing company and derived years of editing and proofreading experience from her tenure there, all while sharpening her skills further with myriad freelance projects. In her spare time, she teaches herself French and Italian, has earned an ESL teaching certificate, traveled extensively throughout Europe and the United States, and unashamedly devours television shows and books. The result of these pursuits is expertise in fashion, travel, beauty, literature, textbooks, and pop culture, in addition to whatever obsession consumes her next.

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