The 10 Best Parasols

Updated November 10, 2017 by Ezra Glenn

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Everyone knows that the Sun can damage sensitive skin with long-term exposure. 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. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best parasol on Amazon.

10. JapanBargain 32-Inch

Though it may not be the highest quality or most durable option out there, the JapanBargain 32-Inch definitely lives up to its name, coming in at under $10. It boasts a traditional style and design, with a nylon hood and bamboo handle.
  • available in twelve colors
  • good choice for a prop or costume
  • handle can snap easily
Brand JapanBargain
Model 2161-L
Weight 9.6 ounces
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

9. Darice White Lace

The Darice White Lace comes in at such a low price that it won't be a surprise to know it's fairly delicate, but it'll do the trick as a theater or photo shoot prop. Its diameter measures 32 inches when open, and it has an all-white handle to match.
  • good size for a child
  • weighs less than half a pound
  • overall very cheap construction
Brand Darice
Model 35058-1
Weight 6.4 ounces
Rating 3.6 / 5.0

8. N1ceCho Fashion Lace Umbrella

According to its UPF 50+ rating, the N1ceCho Fashion Lace Umbrella blocks over 97.5% of the Sun's invisible UV rays. It will shield you from most of its visible light as well, keeping you both safer and cooler during a summer stroll or outdoor concert.
  • can be used in light rain
  • includes a storage sleeve
  • difficult to open and collapse
Brand N1ceCho
Model pending
Weight 12 ounces
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

7. UndMe Black Daisy

The UndMe Black Daisy effectively blocks up to 98% of the Sun's potentially harmful UV rays, protecting your skin from burns and long-term damage. It will also stand up to moderate rainfall, and boasts a lovely floral design on its inside.
  • comes with a hand-sewn felt case
  • durable aluminum frame
  • hard to pack down for storage
Model pending
Weight 1.1 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

6. Glodeals Oil Painting

Whether you use it to keep the sun off your head and shoulders or merely as a decorative accent in your home, the Glodeals Oil Painting looks great thanks to the colorful print of Vincent Van Gogh's 1890 masterpiece "Almond Blossom" that it bears on its exterior.
  • uv-protectant inner layer
  • generous 38-inch width when open
  • may collapse in moderate gusts
Brand Glodeals(TM)
Model pending
Weight 13.6 ounces
Rating 4.4 / 5.0

5. StarSide Wedding Lace

The StarSide Wedding Lace would make a perfect bridal accessory for outdoor photos or ceremonies. Thanks to its cotton hood, it's lightweight and effectively blocks the brightest midday sunshine without casting too dark of a shadow.
  • handsome wooden handle
  • construction feels sturdy
  • doesn't always stay closed
Brand StarSide
Model 29-10000-003
Weight 12 ounces
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

4. MiiHome Ladies Lace

Though difficult to open and close, once it's in the desired position, the MiiHome Ladies Lace is an elegant and effective way to keep yourself shaded. It boasts embroidered details befitting the most glamorous and cosmopolitan events.
  • double layered to block sunlight
  • rust and bend-resistant frame
  • not suitable for use in rain
Brand MiiHome
Model pending
Weight 8.8 ounces
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

3. Outgeek Sunproof Pagoda

The Outgeek Sunproof Pagoda comes in an elegant shape and is available in four fashionable designs, each with a long matching handle. It's a great choice for promenading around town, as its ruffled lace embellishments are sure to draw the attention of passersby.
  • protects its user from rain and sun
  • large enough to shade two people
  • discreet snap closure
Brand Outgeek
Model pending
Weight 16 ounces
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

2. RainStoppers Women's Open

The RainStoppers Women's Open stands up to the beating sun, the driving rain, and the blowing wind, all while looking lovely with three tiers of ruffles and a delicate, slender post. It's available in red, white, or purple to suit your fancy.
  • oversized canopy
  • elegant extended metal tip
  • smooth push-button opening mechanism
Brand RainStoppers
Model S014RED
Weight 13.6 ounces
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

1. TopTie Lace

The TopTie Lace comes in more than 10 colors, so no matter what your wedding party is wearing or the setting of your photo shoot, you can find one that matches well. It can't be used in the rain, but it's a great balance of price and quality.
  • allows wind to pass through easily
  • sturdy metal ribs and wooden handle
  • easy to slide open and closed
Brand TopTie
Weight 14.9 ounces
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

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

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.

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.

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.

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Last updated on November 10, 2017 by Ezra Glenn

Ezra is a writer, photographer, creative producer, designer, and record label-operator from New York City. He's traveled around the world and ended up back where he started, though he's constantly threatening to leave again.

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