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Sunshade vs. Parasol — What's the Difference?

By Fiza Rafique & Urooj Arif — Updated on May 18, 2024
A sunshade is a device providing shade from the sun, typically larger and used for covering areas, while a parasol is a handheld umbrella specifically designed to block sunlight.
Sunshade vs. Parasol — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Sunshade and Parasol


Key Differences

A sunshade is typically a large, stationary or portable device designed to provide shade from the sun. It is commonly used in outdoor areas like patios, beaches, or parks to protect people from direct sunlight. A parasol, on the other hand, is a handheld umbrella specifically designed to block sunlight. Unlike regular umbrellas meant for rain, parasols are lightweight and often made from materials like lace or fabric that are designed to provide shade rather than protection from rain.
Sunshades are generally more practical and functional, providing shade for multiple people or larger areas, whereas parasols are more personal and portable, often seen as stylish accessories. Both serve the primary function of sun protection but differ significantly in form, usage, and context.
While sunshades are often set up in fixed locations or carried to outdoor activities, parasols are typically used for personal shading on-the-go, reflecting a blend of utility and fashion.

Comparison Chart

Primary Use

Providing shade in outdoor areas
Blocking sunlight for an individual


Large, stationary or portable
Handheld, portable

Common Locations

Patios, beaches, parks
Streets, gardens, outdoor events


Durable fabrics, metals
Lightweight fabrics, lace

Functional Context

Practical, functional
Fashionable, personal

Compare with Definitions


An awning or screen used to block sunlight.
The sunshade on the porch provided much-needed relief from the midday heat.


A handheld umbrella designed to block sunlight.
She carried a delicate lace parasol to protect her skin from the sun.


A device providing shade from the sun, often large and stationary.
We set up a sunshade on the beach to keep cool.


An umbrella specifically for shading from the sun.
The garden party was picturesque, with guests holding elegant parasols.


A protective covering used in outdoor areas.
The café had sunshades over the tables to protect customers from the sun.


A sun-blocking device often used in historical or vintage settings.
The antique parasol collection showcased intricate designs and craftsmanship.


A large umbrella or canopy for shading areas.
The backyard sunshade made the patio more comfortable during summer.


A stylish accessory for personal sun protection.
The actress used a colorful parasol during the outdoor shoot to stay shaded.


Something, such as an awning or a billed cap, that is used or worn as a protection from the sun's rays.


A lightweight, portable sunshade.
Victorian ladies often used parasols as both fashion accessories and for sun protection.


Something to keep the sun off, or create shade from the sun; a parasol or awning.


A light umbrella used to give shade from the sun.


Anything used as a protection from the sun's rays.


A widely distributed large mushroom with a broad scaly greyish-brown cap and a tall, slender stalk.


A canopy made of canvas to shelter people or things from rain or sun


A light, usually small umbrella carried as protection from the sun.


A handheld collapsible source of shade


A small light umbrella used as protection from the sun.


A sun protection accessory for outdoor settings.
Camping with a sunshade ensures we have a cool place to relax.


A miniature paper umbrella used as a decoration in tropical-themed cocktails.


A roof or covering of a structure designed to provide cover from wind, rain, or sun.


Any of various Asian species of libellulid dragonfly of the genus Neurothemis.


The parasol mushroom, Macrolepiota procera


(transitive) To protect with, or as if with, a parasol; to shade.


A kind of small umbrella used by women as a protection from the sun.


To shade as with a parasol.


A handheld collapsible source of shade

Common Curiosities

Are parasols used as fashion accessories?

Yes, parasols are often used as stylish accessories, especially in historical or vintage contexts.

What materials are sunshades typically made from?

Sunshades are often made from durable fabrics and metals to withstand outdoor conditions.

Are parasols still popular today?

Parasols are less common today but are still used in certain cultures and fashion contexts.

How is a parasol different from a regular umbrella?

A parasol is specifically for blocking sunlight, while regular umbrellas are for rain protection.

Can a sunshade be portable?

Yes, sunshades can be portable, such as large beach umbrellas or pop-up canopies.

Can a sunshade cover multiple people?

Yes, sunshades are usually large enough to provide shade for multiple people.

What is a sunshade?

A sunshade is a device designed to provide shade from the sun, often used in outdoor areas.

What is the primary function of a sunshade?

The primary function of a sunshade is to provide shade and protect from the sun.

Where would you typically use a parasol?

Parasols are commonly used in gardens, at outdoor events, or while walking in the sun.

Can a sunshade be fixed or movable?

Sunshades can be both fixed (like awnings) or movable (like large umbrellas).

Do parasols offer UV protection?

Some parasols are designed with UV-protective fabrics to offer better sun protection.

Are parasols effective in windy conditions?

Parasols are generally not effective in windy conditions due to their lightweight design.

What historical period are parasols most associated with?

Parasols are often associated with the Victorian era and earlier historical periods.

Do sunshades come in different designs?

Yes, sunshades come in various designs, including umbrellas, canopies, and awnings, to suit different needs.

How do you set up a sunshade?

Sunshades can be set up by anchoring them in place, like with a beach umbrella or pop-up canopy.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Fiza Rafique
Fiza Rafique is a skilled content writer at, where she meticulously refines and enhances written pieces. Drawing from her vast editorial expertise, Fiza ensures clarity, accuracy, and precision in every article. Passionate about language, she continually seeks to elevate the quality of content for readers worldwide.
Co-written by
Urooj Arif
Urooj is a skilled content writer at Ask Difference, known for her exceptional ability to simplify complex topics into engaging and informative content. With a passion for research and a flair for clear, concise writing, she consistently delivers articles that resonate with our diverse audience.

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