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Can you get UV rays in the shade?

The beauty of effective sun care is that you have lots of freedom to keep your skin protected while enjoying life on your terms.

This kind of flexibility is key because UV rays can hit you in places you least expect them—even indoors! Knowing when and where to apply sun protection is essential.

That's why you need to know the answer to this important question: Can you get UV rays in the shade?

The basics: Can you get UV rays in the shade?

Shade is one of the best defenses against UV rays. Any time you block sunlight, you’re sending UV rays packing, too. That’s the idea behind blackout curtains for the home, sun protective clothing, and other sun care options.

That said, the amount of protection shade offers can vary significantly. To keep your skin cool and safe, it’s not enough to rely on shade alone.

So, can you get UV rays in the shade? Yes and no. Shade protects you, but not completely — and not always.

Challenges: Can UV rays get through sun protection?

Why doesn’t shade keep you safe 100% of the time? Three factors can get in the way.

1. Shade strength varies

There are countless types of shade, from patio umbrellas to shade trees. Some options are practically impossible for UV rays to get through, but others aren’t as reliable:

  • Buildings: Solid structures provide excellent UV protection. But windows let UV rays through.
  • Trees: Shade trees can be great, but only if they have abundant foliage. UV rays can get through as branches sway.
  • Umbrellas: The quality and thickness of umbrella materials are key. Look at the ultraviolet protection factor. The Skin Cancer Organization recommends fabrics with a UPF of 30+.

2. The sun moves

Can you get UV rays in the shade under a patio umbrella? Absolutely. The problem is that shade rarely stays in the same place.

An outdoor kitchen or pergola may keep you cool early in the morning, but by afternoon, the sun's position in the sky has changed. Staying in the shade can mean constantly adjusting your beach umbrella, too.

3. UV rays bounce

Cool spots of shade can’t protect you completely from the reflective nature of UV rays. For example, if you’re huddled under a canopy at a sidewalk café, you’re probably getting some UV bouncing off the bright concrete around you.

Smart tips: How can you protect yourself from UV rays?

Don’t get us wrong—shade is your friend when it comes to sun protection. But it’s only one layer of your defense. Add other layers.

Apply high-quality sunscreen as part of your morning beauty routine. That way, you have a solid foundation for any UV rays that get through other layers. Wear sun protective accessories, like sunglasses, sleeves, and more.

The bottom line: Can you get UV rays in the shade?

Can you get UV rays in the shade? Yes, but with modern sun care solutions, you can stay sun safe. 

The fact that you’re taking skin care seriously is admirable. You don’t need to sacrifice style to protect your skin from UV rays. Customize your sun protection with chic UPF clothing and sunscreen infused with nourishing ingredients—sign up for our newsletter to be the first to hear about new sun care product launches.