So when Mr. B and I started planning our recent Hawaiian vacation, sun protection was at the top of my list, and I knew a simple sunscreen wasn't going to cut it. I needed a plan.
A Practical Plan & Solid Sun Protection
Knowing that I would be spending an inordinate amount of time in direct sunlight, I knew I needed something that went above and beyond to avoid sunburn.
Then I saw a silver lining: the closet eccentric in me has been dying for an excuse to get a parasol for years! (Because every girl needs a parasol some time, right?)
But when I started looking, all I could find were lacy, Gothic-inspired (or better yet, Hello Kitty) umbrellas, or drab "UV-protectant sunshades." Blech. I wanted something age-appropriate, functional, and pretty.
That's when I found Annie O’Connor Hughes of Umbrellas Hawaii.
After exchanging a few emails, Annie and I made a date to meet up in Honolulu on the first day of our vacation.
A long-time Oahu resident and artist, Annie shared with me how she founded Umbrellas Hawaii in 2006, after searching out a UV-safe solution for her fair skin (much as I did) and finding nothing that met her needs.
Through our conversation, I learned that Annie is as passionate about the quality of her products as she is about health benefits they provided. Umbrellas Hawaii offers what is basically a high-tech parasol, with island-style designs that offer serious skin protection in a beautiful, tropically inspired product.
Every Umbrellas Hawaii umbrella is lined with Ultra Violet Protective Factor (UPF) fabric that has been tested and certified to block 95%-97% of Ultra Violet (UV) radiation.
When I got my "sun-brella" (as I like to call it), I really didn't anticipate how much of an impact it would have.
I honestly believe my modern-day parasol saved our vacation.
Hawaii was very hot and humid the entire ten days of our trip, and without my self-propelled shade, no amount of sunscreen would have saved me from being burnt to a crisp.
Even if you are like Mr. B and have never had a real sunburn, have you ever had to endure a trip with someone who is badly sunburnt? Does the term "cranky" ring a bell? A sunburn for one can ruin a trip for everyone.
I took my sun-brella everywhere, with the obvious exceptions of snorkeling and kayaking. Needless to say, it is now a permanent fixture on my vacation packing list. (I keep one in my car at all times, too!)
Tips for Choosing a Good Sunbrella
- A good sunbrella will have UPF certified fabrics that block 95%-97% of UV radiation.
- The seams should be tight and smooth.
- Look for fiberglass rods for light weight and optimal strength.
- Test the open/close mechanism. On the day we visited to Pearl Harbor, I must a have opened and closed my sunbrella fifty times in one day. My Umbrellas Hawaii sunbrella opens and closes so smoothly that it's easier than opening my purse. I never once had a problem or pinched a finger.
- The little pieces at the ends of the struts should be covered and rounded. You don't want to have to worry about poking anyone's eye out with them.
- It should be light enough to comfortably carry for long spaces of time.
- The handle itself should be comfortable to hold and easy to grip.
- It should have good, durable water repellency. I mean, it is an umbrella, right?
In closing, I wish I could fully explain how grateful I am to be sitting here at my computer typing away, just two days after my vacation, and not suffering from post-vacation sunburn and all that goes along with it.
Finally, an umbrella I can use!