In a recent clip from late night comedy show, Conan, New Yorker Jim Gaffigan jokes about how impossible it is for fair-skinned people to live in sunny Los Angeles. The ginger-haired, pale comedian adds that, even in New York, he would never go outside at all if his children didn’t force him.
Feeling safe in the sun means more fun in the garden, on the boat or golf course. No one, no matter how freckled and blue-eyed, wants to turn down an outdoor adventure. Today’s magazines are full of stories about the health benefits of spending time in the outdoors. Just seeing trees, big sky, and/or wide expanses of water reduces our stress levels, improves our sleep, mood and health . . . and not just a little, but significantly.
Still, like Gaffigan, fair-skinned people can feel leery of being outside for too long. The good news is that quality sunscreens and clothing with 50+ UPF (like “SPF,” but for clothes) protection means even the most fair-skinned people can stay safe outside. Protective hats, too, play a central role preventing damage to the skin caused by the sun. And despite visions of extensive nylon flaps, the stylish among us can find protective sun hats for women that impress at any venue or soiree.
It’s true: protective sun hats for women with fair skin come in the coolest fedora, wide-brimmed, western and floppy styles. It only takes a little research to find options with UPF of 50 and more. A 50+ UPF rating means at least 97.5% of the sun’s UVA and UVB rays are BLOCKED and even alabaster princesses can cavort outdoors for hours.
How Does the Protection Provided in UPF 50+ Sun Hats for Women Work?
Sound too good to be true? Here’s how sun hats become sun blockers:
- Fabric materials make a difference. You may be surprised to know that polyester deflects UVA and UVB rays, but rayon isn’t as effective. Choose stylish sun hats for women made of polyester more often than those made of cotton, rayon, flax and hemp. This said, when these non-poly materials are woven tight enough, they, too, block sunlight effectively.
- Tight fabric weave and thick fabrics block both UVA and UVB rays. Women with fair-skin must bring every weapon in their sun-blocking arsenal. A tight weave seals out shiny rays.
- The right colors make a difference. Dark colors absorb the rays (keeping them from skin) but bright colors both absorb and deflect better than pale, neutral tones. A dark hat in hot weather can make the wearer overheat, however.
Events that Decrease a Sun Hat’s Protective Qualities
Even when a manufacturer gets the fabric, weave, and right, events that occur after the hat leaves the factory can impact sun protection features. Those who love fishing and boating must know that a wet hat can transport UVA and UVB rays through the hat to the skin. (This said, some polyester hats provide more of a barrier to UV rays when wet.)
As a sun hat ages or gets stretched, too, it loses color and weave. Keep your favorite sun hat to yourself to keep it working most effectively. When it becomes tired and faded, consider swapping it for a new one.
Can You Wash Sun Hats for Women?
Absolutely, but hand washing or spot cleaning is most recommended. Washing the sun hat depletes it of color and may loosen the weave. Without those dark or reflective molecules to battle or absorb UV rays, the hat loses it protective power.
A Fair-Skinned Athlete Advocates for Sun Hats for Women, Men and Children
Even the strongest among us are susceptible to skin damage due to overexposure to UVA and UVB rays from the sun.
In 2012, athlete Leanda Cave swam 2.4 miles across Kailua-Kona bay, biked 112 miles across the Hawaiian lava desert, before finishing with a full 26.1 mile marathon. That year’s Ironman World Championship required not only super-human endurance but a full nine hours close to the equator in the intense sunlight. And it wasn’t Cave’s first exposure.
After spending 20 years training as a tri-athlete and winning multiple titles, the blue-eyed, fair-skinned British citizen got a wake-up call from her doctor: squamous cell carcinoma. That same year, she allied with the Melanoma Research Foundation (MRF), to raise awareness of melanoma, skin cancer’s most deadly form. Cave explains in an interview with Britain’s The Guardian, “I know first-hand that long hours spent training in the sun increases the risk of being diagnosed with skin cancer. I want people to know that this cancer exists, that there are steps they can take to prevent it.”
One of Cave’s key sun defense tactics is the use of hats. She hates seeing American school children playing unprotected on playgrounds. "It's 40° C [104° F] in the summer here [in Los Angeles],” Cave relates. “I go past the school and every kid is out in the middle of the day without a hat. For me that's frustrating. I have a big box of hats and I donate them.”
While the process may take years or a decade or so, UV light invades skin cells at a genetic level, causing mutations in the cellular DNA. These mutations weaken the body’s natural ability to detect and destroy mutated, sun-damaged cells. Compromised, the immune system cannot stop the development of fast-growing skin cancers. The best approach is to prevent damaged skin cells in the first place. As Leanda Cave advocates, fair-skinned women must make sun hats a primary ally in skin cancer prevention.
The Best Beach and Boating Sun Hats for Women
The World Health Organization has reported that, while grass and soil reflect less than 10 percent of UV radiation, sand reflects 15 percent and water about 25 percent. Therefore, women who prefer beach and water activities like fishing particularly need sun hats with 50+ SPF protection. Luckily, boating and beach hats for women exist in many styles for all budgets.
A primary consideration for boat and beach lovers evaluating women’s hats is wind. All hats should have under-the-chin ties to prevent loss in the water. Having a darker under-brim to absorb UVF rays is another consideration. The Amber hat with a four-inch brim provides sun protection for face, neck and upper chest. Its tie ensures it doesn’t go tumbling down the sand or over the water’s surface. Boaters with a weakness for fashion consider Amber both stylish and practical.
A broad-spectrum water-resistant sunscreen or a very water-resistant sunscreen of at least SPF 30-50. Because lips, too, are vulnerable to UV radiation and the resulting squamous cell carcinomas, lip balm is a must. Sweating, friction, and swimming quickly reduces sunscreen effectiveness.
Sun Hats for Women Golfers
Complete 360-degree coverage works well for women boaters, but golfers need clear peripheral vision. Flaps or wide brims on the side just don’t cut it for golf course couture. At the same time, heaven forbid the sun occludes their vision while they look at the tee, the fairway, the green and back. They need ample shade to protect their line of sight. To play their best game, most golfers prefer the wide-brimmed golf hat to protect not only their skin but their reputation! A dark under-brim reduces glare.
Sun Hats for Women Gardeners
Fenced in their back yards, communing with seeds and soil, gardeners get to wear what they want!
Women’s floppy sun hats just belong on people wearing flowery garden gloves and knee-high, rubber boots. Hiking/adventure hats with their convenient vents and chin straps keep gardeners cool while protected from wind gusts. We’ve seen legendary gardener Martha Stewart in causal traveler and Western-style hats with a trowel in her hand. We even caught her in a broad-brimmed hat (although that was for a Women’s Committee Luncheon for the Central Park Conservancy.)
UV light exposure is the most significant risk factor in the development of squamous and basal cell carcinomas, as well as melanoma. Sun exposure is even more of a predictor than ethnicity, diet or skin type. Because the majority of squamous and basal cell skin cancers emerge on the face and ears, sun hats for women with fair skin should become an indispensable part of their outdoor adventures!
Fair-Skinned Beauties Deserve their Turn in the Sun!
Comedian Jim Gaffigan claims that he’s so pale, one of his parents is a polar bear.
Writer Casey Mullins takes a more appreciative approach to her skin color, terming it “alabaster gleam,” and “porcelain.” Mullins suggests that the test to determine whether you’re truly “the fairest of them all” is to look at your nipple color. If it’s close to your skin color, you win entry to this snowy lot, most of who hail from Ireland, Scotland, Germany and all the Nordic countries.
You can keep that skin the “fairest of the fair” AND cancer-free when you invest in sun hats for women with large brims, dark or bright colors, and a tight weave.
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