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Made in the Shade: A New Study Looks at Why a Beach Umbrella and High SPF Sunscreen Could Be a Good Combo

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Have these dark and dreary winter days inspired you to plan a trip to the Caribbean? Before you make a beeline for that beach umbrella, don't forget to apply some high SPF sunscreen.

According to a Johnson & Johnson study recently published in JAMA Dermatology, researchers found that sitting in the shade alone doesn't adequately protect your skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays.

Study participants who spent 3.5 hours on a sunny beach were divided into two groups: One sat under a beach umbrella with no other sun protection; the other applied SPF 100+ sunscreen, without any umbrella coverage.

Afterwards, 78% of people in the umbrella group showed signs of sunburn versus just 25% in the sunscreen group, suggesting that the sunscreen offered significantly better protection.

“Umbrella shade alone may not provide sufficient protection for extended sun exposure,” says the study's lead author Hao Ou-Yang Circular image Hao Ou-Yang, Ph.D.Manager, Medical Research, R&D Fellow, Johnson & Johnson, Ph.D., Manager, Medical Research, R&D Fellow, Johnson & Johnson. “Although using SPF 100 was better than simply sitting in the shade, neither prevents sunburn completely. That’s why it’s essential to use a combination of sun protection methods."

So when you get to the beach (or sit outside anywhere on a bright day), opt for multiple forms of protection—such as sunscreen, shade and hats—and then crack open a novel and order that fruity drink.

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