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Puma sneakers, Ray Ban sunglasses, Hermes collier de chien bangle (all own), sunprotection deep water swim capris, ruche swim shirt and everyday beach shawl c/o Coolibar

Against common believe, being in the shade fails to rescue you from sunburn. Read why you can get a sunburn in the shade and how you can avoid sunburn in general.

  1. Once Upon a Time in the Provence
  2. Shade Fails to Protect You from Sun Burn
  3. Shade Provides Thermal Comfort
  4. Why You Can Get Sunburn in the Shade
  5. Harmful UV rays don’t take a winter break
  6. References
  7. Top of the World Style linkup party No. 222

Disclosure: Ad. The wrap, top and capris are samples from Coolibar. They did not endorse this post. I wrote it entirely myself and it represents my 100% honest opinion.

Once upon a time in the Provence

In the 80s, my friends and I spent our spring semester break in the Provence for flying sailing planes. There the Sun was already strong enough to heat the ground providing excellent updrafts that we used to spiral up high. But actually we were there hoping for a low in the Gulf of Genoa. This weather situation would pull air down the Rhone valley causing excellent lee waves. The challenge was to get thru the then very turbulent – read bumpy – first 0.6 to 1.2 miles (1-2 km) of the lower atmosphere and then find the upward part of the wave. That could lift you over 3.1 miles (5 km) high.

Shade Fails to Protect You From Sunsurn

On the first day upon arrival, the non-pilot gals spent their days browsing and/or “window shopping” the little streets of the surrounding cities. When you never have been in southern France, in the downtown areas the streets are very small to provide shade all the time. When they came back, they all had a terrible sunburn most of them even under the light-weight tops with airy weave, while we pilots had none. They were pretty upset. “We were in the shade all time even when we had ice cream on the deck of a cafe.” one of them said.

over 50 years old blogger sitting on a Jeep in wearing sunprotection coolibar swimwear to avoid sunburn

style blogger wrapping a UPF50+ beach shawl around her swimwear to not get a sunburn

influencer with leggings, top, sneakers, sunglasses and beachshawl
Puma sneakers, Ray Ban sunglasses, Hermes collier de chien bangle (all own), sun-protection deep water swim capris, ruched swim shirt and everyday beach shawl c/o Coolibar

Shade provides thermal comfort

“Shade doesn’t protect you from the Sun, it’s just mitigates the heat stress.” I responded. “Yes, the temperature was very comfortable.” she admitted. “We wondered how you guys would do in the heat in your little planes with your leather bomber jackets, gloves and hats.” “Temperature decreases with height” I replied. Then one of the ladies realized that none of the pilots had a sunburn. “You just didn’t get a sunburn because the rays don’t go thru the glass.” “No, they pass glass. You can get a terrible burn in your car and especially in a sailing plane when you up high. We all wore sun cream with SPF 50 on our face and neck. And we were bundled up in several layers of clothes.”

Why You Can Get a Sunburn in the Shade

The Sun’s rays get reflected on the walls of buildings, by leaves, the ground, etc. They can even bounce back and forth between these surfaces. Thus, while an umbrella protects you from the direct Sun light, it can’t protect you from rays that have been reflected. When you are in a small street the houses along the street provide shadow. However, the rays reach walls, windows or roofs at higher levels on one side of the street. These rays partially bounce back (some of the rays heat the surface the fell on) hitting the wall on the other side of the street at a lower height. They again reflect back and so on. This means that when you walk in the small street you are exposed to very diffuse sunlight. Unfortunately, this diffuse radiation also encompasses harmful UV rays. These rays are the ones that cause sunburn.

Unless you wear UPF50+ clothing some of these UV rays may even travel thru your clothes and reach your skin. In other words, you might even get a sunburn when fully dressed.

Nicole in long tunic, leggings, sneakers, mirrored aviators

backview of weekend casual outfit in sun-protection clothing used to avoid sunburn
Details of casual weekend look with Coolibar sunprotection clothes

Harmful UV rays don’t take a winter break

Sun burns can happen at all times of the year especially when you are in an environment with high reflective surfaces like snow, water, mirrors, white walls or the glass windows of a street mall. Therefore, in the name of your skin health you should use skin care products with sun screen all the time. When you spend a lot of time outside protect your skin with UPF rated clothing like the ones in my OOTD even when staying in the shadow. Today sun-protective clothing comes in very chic cuts that don’t read sparse time, great outdoors or vacation. Check the post at the link for a glam and an office appropriate example. More on reducing Sun exposure.

sideview of Coolibar ruche shirt, capris, own sneakers made to protect the skin from sunburn

midlife blogger in casual UPF clothing in front of a car in the shade
Outfit details: Puma sneakers, Ray Ban mirrored aviator sunglasses, Hermes collier de chien bangle, Coach shearling bag (all own), studs and leather pearl necklace c/o Wendy Mignot, and sun-protection deep water swim capris, ruche swim shirt and everyday beach shawl c/o Coolibar


Don’t let the right outfit be a random thing. Wear the right look in every situation by looking up what to wear when in How to Dress for Success in MidlifeBuy my book now.

You can find more UP50+ clothes at Coolibar. Like this outfit idea? If so, please feel free to pin them to your own Pinterest board.

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Mölders, N. (2019) Outdoor Universal Thermal Comfort Index Climatology for Alaska. Atmospheric and Climate Sciences9, 558-582. doi: 10.4236/acs.2019.94036.

Top of the World Style Linkup party No. 222

Welcome to the 222nd Top of the World Style linkup party! Tanks for coming. Let’s first see who are the awardees from last week.

Top of the World Style Winner Debbie of Fashion Fairy Dust in distressed jeans, crochet top and kimono
Debbie of Fashion Fairy Dust became Top of the World Style Winner. Photo from her post


op of the World OOTD Readers' Fav Nancy of Nancy's Fashion Style in white skirt colorful top
Nancy the blogger at Nancy’s Fashion File became the Top of the World OOTD Readers’ Fav. Photo from her post


Top of the World OOTD My Fav Suzy Turner in olive leopard print shirt dress with red accessories
Suzy Turner of the blog with the same name became Top of the World OOTD My Fav. Photo from her post


Congrats Ladies! Grab your buttons for your awards page or sidebar.

See these awesome outfit ideas at the Top of the World Style #linkup party. #OOTD Click To Tweet

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Photos of me: G. Kramm

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This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. voguefauxreal

    Though I’ve never really had this happen, there are some areas that will reflect enough of the UV back to you to burn you in the shade. And definitely protect yourself from the UVB rays that make it through the built-in tint in most car windows today. This is a good heads-up and it’s great to hear about a good line of clothing with the UV protection built in.

    Jeep Wave from one red-Jeep-with-a-hard-top sister to another!


  2. I’ve heard this before and it is definitely something to remember!! I really want to avoid any sunburns I can. I love your pink top and that blue shawl I’m sure is great to wrap around for sun protection!


  3. This is such a helpful post – thank you for sharing! Sunscreen is SO important!

  4. stinedurfdl

    Thank you so much for the feature Nicole! Have a great week!

  5. A very informative post. I knew most of it except the science behind getting burned in the shade.