How to Choose the Perfect Sun Hat
Choosing a good sun hat is very important. Not only do 1/3 of all skin cancers appear on the face but the biggest cause of premature aging is cumulative damage of the sun from infancy on up. So let's get started finding the perfect sun hat for you.
All of our hats are chosen with sun protection in mind, but not all hats are created equal.
Let's start with 5 basic questions to narrow down your search
- What activity will you be doing? Will there be wind? Do you need a good peripheral vision? Will it be hot?
- Do you want maximum sun protection or is good sun protection just fine?
- How wide of a brim is comfortable for you?
- How important is the fashion to you or is functionality all you need?
- Is your hair short? Thinning? Bald or shaved? Do you dye your hair
Will you be in the wind? With a wide brim hat, a chin strap is very important for keeping your sun hat in place. Remember the old sitcom The Flying Nun? A wide brim hat will pick up the wind like it has wings of its own. Additionally, a chin strap will help keep your hat in place when bending over or dropping your chin is part of your activity, like in gardening.
Peripheral vision is an important factor for both safety and playing various sports like tennis or volleyball. This will be a personal decision for you. Consider both the size of the brim and, if a neck drape is involved, how far does the drape wrap around the face. I am a beach volleyball player and for me, a 3" brim is the widest I can use and still see high flying balls as well as the other players.
Will you be doing an activity that generates body heat? You may want to wear a sun visor for total head aeration or choose a sun hat with mesh on the side of the crown or a hat made of a fast-drying fabric that allows evaporative cooling. One trick for cooling your head in a hot, dry climate is to wet the hat and then let the evaporation cool your head.
Maximum sun protection vs good sun protection? What is the maximum sun protection hat? We feel a maximum protection hat has a UPF rating of 50 and a hat brim that is 4 inches wide or greater. But there's more. The brim needs to be angled downward. This downward sloping brim allows you to be protected for more hours of the day.
How does this work? At high noon, when the sun's rays are directly overhead, even a 3" brim hat may provide maximum sun protection for your head. But when the sun is either ascending or descending the sun's rays can sneak right under your hat and strike your face or neck. At daybreak or sunset, when the sun's rays are virtually horizontal, a wide brim hat may provide no protection at all.
If you plan to be spending time outdoors when the sun is close to either horizon, you may want to think about our more unique designs such as the Sol Blocker Hat that drops a vertical protective block of fabric between you and the sun.
Good sun protection can be had with a brimless than 4 inches wide or a brim that is more horizon from the head.
How wide of a brim are you comfortable with? We all have different feelings about this one. Some people can handle a wide brim with no problem while others find it very distracting. Bottom line is that the wider the brim of the hat the more surface area there is to block the sun. But, of almost equal importance, is the angle of the brim. A wide brim hat that comes straight out from the head is good but when the sun is not straight overhead the rays can come under the brim and strike the face and neck. A brim that is angled downward goes a long way in giving you more hours of protection. As a basic rule of thumb, for maximum sun protection choose a downward angled 4" brim sun hat ... and, if you are comfortable, choosing a brim wider than 4" is even better. If you are not sure how wide a brim you would like you may want to consider a 3 1/2 brim.
Now, how important is the fashion to you? As you can see, some of the sun protection inventors have come up with novel hat designs to protect you from the sun but, alas they would not be called high fashion ... except possibly on another planet. Most of these unique hats were designed to solve special sun protection needs such as full-face protection, additional neck protection or increased ventilation.
Some of our wide brim hats are the height of fashion creating a dramatic flair or ultra-feminine silhouette. As we all know, fashion is in the eyes of the beholder so look for a hat that accentuates your attributes.
Next, let's take a look at your hair. Do you have thinning hair, or are you balding or shave your head? If yes, mesh panels on the crown of the hat may provide extra airflow to keep your head cooler but it will also let UV radiation sneak through and reach your scalp. With maximum sun protection in mind, it is better to leave the mesh panels for those with thick tresses. For those of you who do have thick hair, choosing a hat with mesh panels will help your head stay cooler in the heat.
Do you have short hair? If yes, we need to be extra concerned about your neck. A sun visor or a brimless than 4" leaves your neck open to sun damage. Typically a full brim hat will be your best choice.
Hair can get dry, cracked and brittle from too much sun. Dyed hair is especially susceptible to problems under UV radiation so, to protect your hair, I would suggest staying away from visor hats that leave your hair open to the sunlight.
Just a few parting suggestions for picking the perfect hat for you:
A hat that is too big is better than one that is too small. A tight hat may give you a headache and then you won't want to wear it. Many of our hats are adjustable, but in all cases, please be sure to measure your head to ensure a perfect fit. For those of you with lots of little grey cells, we have women hats for big heads and hats for men with big heads. And, for those of you with smaller heads, please know that you may request stick-on sizing tape to help you fit your hat.
Reflective UV Rays:
Even the widest brim hat will not be able to stop rays reflecting up from the ground, a nearby car or any other reflective surface so wearing sunscreen is important for maximum sun protection. Rule of thumb: Sun protective fabric is always better than sunscreen in protecting you from the harmful rays of the sun but alas not always practical. On areas where you can't cover up with fabric use sunscreen. Maximum sun protection is achieved by a combination of sun protective clothing and sunscreen.
Happy Hat Picking!