Do Your Skin a Major Favor and Start Wearing a Chic Sun Hat This Summer
By now you know the importance of wearing sunscreen when you step outside. But have you considered wearing a hat, too? In addition to being super stylish, sun hats help offer an extra layer of protection against the sun’s skin-damaging UV rays.
It’s a good idea to wear a hat and sunscreen in the sun, says board-certified dermatologist Heidi Waldorf, M.D., founder of Waldorf Dermatology Aesthetics in New York. The reason: “Hats block your skin from ultraviolet rays and provide sun protection that doesn’t wear off.” (Remember: Sunscreen needs to be reapplied every two hours because its protection wanes throughout the day—and most people don’t apply enough for max protection to begin with.)
According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), wearing sun protective clothing, like a sun hat, can help ward off skin cancer. Basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas, which account for 90% of all skin cancers, often appear on the head and neck—and hats specifically keep these areas covered and protected.
How to shop for a sun hat that protects your skin
✔️ Go wide: Not all sun hats are created equal. “Generally, a 4-inch brim around the entire circumference of the hat is needed to protect the face, neck, eyes, and ears,” Dr. Waldorf says. Visors can be worn for sun protection, as well, but the brim should be super wide, practically wrapping around the head, she adds.
You’ll also want to avoid baseball caps, unless they have a drape. “A regular baseball cap is not sufficient—they’re designed to keep the glare of the sun out of your eyes, not to protect your skin,” notes Dr. Waldorf.
✔️ Pay attention to color: When it comes to the fabric, go for hats with a darkly-colored, tightly-woven fabric like denim, canvas, wool, or synthetic fibers, which can effectively shield against harmful UV rays, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. To check the coverage of the fabric, shine a flashlight through it to see which areas are shaded and which are exposed, suggests Debra Jaliman, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist based in New York City and author of Skin Rules. If you can see through the fabric, UV radiation can reach your skin.
✔️ Scan the label: There are also hats with built-in UV protection, which can make shopping a little easier. Go for hats that have an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) of 30 or above, says Dr. Jaliman. UPF represents how much UV radiation (both UVB and UVA rays) a fabric allows to reach your skin. In order to earn the Skin Cancer Foundation’s seal of approval a fabric must have a UPF of at least 30. Anywhere between UPF 30 to 49 is very good protection, while UPF 50+ qualifies as excellent.
Ready to shop for your perfect, summer-ready hat? Below are the best sun hats for every type of activity. And we can’t stress it enough: You’ll always want to wear sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or above—even if you’re donning a sun hat.
These expert-approved picks are fashionable and functional.