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Hats | Sun protection simplified

To get sun protection from a hat, it has to cover your head and provide shade for the face and scalp. Shading the face alone with a visor, for example, will not provide UV protection to the scalp, ears, or neck. A visor may help you cool down by blocking some infrared exposure, however, this may give a false sense of security from UV. Read more...
 

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sun hat

Photo: Techei


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What are some of the benefits of wearing a sun hat in terms of protecting the skin from the harmful effects of the sun?



To get sun protection from a hat, it has to cover your head and provide shade for the face and scalp. Shading the face alone with a visor, for example, will not provide UV protection to the scalp, ears, or neck. A visor may help you cool down by blocking some infrared exposure, however, this may give a false sense of security from UV.



What are the benefits of wearing a sun hat compared to other sun protection methods?



To get sun protection from a hat, it has to cover your head and provide shade for the face and scalp. Shading the face alone with a visor, for example, will not provide UV protection to the scalp, ears, or neck. A visor may help you cool down by blocking some infrared exposure, however, this may give a false sense of security from UV.




What types of materials should individuals look for when choosing a sun hat for optimal sun protection?



Finding hats with UPF ratings will certainly offer more confidence in the UV protection offered by the materials the hat is made from. However, this is not simple to find. I find it fairly uncommon to find hats with UPF ratings. When UPF ratings are not available, at the very least focus on styles, textiles, and construction to assess the hat’s potential effectiveness to offer UV protection.


If a hat does not offer a UPF rating, look at it closely.

  • Does have a wide brim? Ideally, at least 3 inches?

  • Does it have cutouts?

  • Is it tightly woven? Can you see right through it?

  • Is it made of one layer or two layers of textile?

Take a look at the textile and see if it is tightly woven to allow for less UV to penetrate. It may even be worth considering a hat with a lining as the two layers of fabric will likely provide increased UV protection.


Think about the angle of UV exposure. At the beach, the sun is right above you. Avoid hats with short brims in the back as you will likely get less shade over the back of your neck and upper back leaving it exposed and at a higher risk for sunburn.



What are some common misconceptions about sun hats and their effectiveness in protecting the skin from the sun?



The visor of a baseball hat does shield the eyes and forehead. However, consider the UV exposure for the rest of the face and neck. The visor just barely shades the nose. The cheeks, lips, ears, chin, neck - all exposed. I routinely find clear evidence of the impact of sun damage on these areas and can almost trace where the hat is covered during routine skin cancer screenings.



Are there any other components of skincare that should be used in conjunction with sun hats to enhance protection against the sun's UV rays?



It is still important to wear sunscreen over the face, ears, neck, and chest even when wearing a hat. Hats can only offer reliable protection for the areas covered, not the areas shaded.


Remember that hats only block UV exposure from the top down, not the bottom up. You still need to wear SPF-containing products on the face simply because UV can reflect off of sand, fresh snow, and sidewalks and become magnified to increase UV exposure.




Other than protection from sun damage, what other skincare benefits do sun hats offer?



The main benefit a hat can offer with regard to skincare is reduced UV exposure to the areas covered or shaded. Given that hats if UPF rated can block UVA and UVB rays, unlike SPF products that mostly block UVB, the added benefit could be a reduced tendency towards premature aging of the skin.



What color should a sun hat be? Does color matter?



Darker materials can offer more UV protection compared to lighter-colored materials. That being said, if a UPF rating is listed, it does not matter what color the hat is.



Are certain styles more protective than others?



From a design perspective, I tend to recommend the following styles that avoid angles that increase the risk of UV exposure:


  • Floppy hat

  • Cloche hat (if extended brim)

  • Fedora hat

  • Bucket hat

  • Fishing hat



How do you measure your head for hat sizing?



Measure the circumference of your head positioning the measuring tape at the top of the ears to the mid-forehead. Companies may vary as to how this measurement matches up to their brand, but knowing this measurement is a good starting point.




What specific recommendations do you make when seeking a sun hat?



I specifically recommend seeking hats with a UPF rating for the simple fact that testing has occurred to gain a better understanding of the protection offered.



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