Great Sun Hats: What Works and What Doesn’t

Cynthia Bailey, MD|August 24, 2010

Sun-protecting your skin isn't just about wearing sunscreen anymore. Healthy sun protection is about keeping the sun's rays from ever reaching your skin and a hat is one of the most important ways to do that. Your face and neck get the most sun of all your skin, and it's where we doctors find the most skin cancers. It's also the most wrinkled part of anyone's skin, and that, too, is because of sun exposure. Outwit wrinkles and skin cancer by wearing a great sun hat when you're in the sun.

4 Essential Characteristics Of The Perfect Sun Protection Hat

  1. It needs to be made of sun impenetrable material. Many hat companies are now rating a hat's sun protection qualities and ideally you want a hat that says it has a UPF 50. A lot of good hats aren't rated, however, and you can always test their sun permeability with my Detecto Ring.
  2. It must have a full circumference brim measuring 3 to 5 inches. The brim needs to be firm enough that it doesn't fold and buckle in the wind, leaving you exposed. A billed hat like a visor or baseball hat is never good enough; it's job security for me because a billed hat dosn't protect the sides of your face, your ears and your neck. Never depend on billed hats for sun protection when your outdoors.
  3. The hat needs to cover your entire scalp with sun impenetrable material. This means no visors and no hats with mesh tops. Trust me, you don't want skin cancer on your scalp and it's all too common. I can't tell you how many cancers I find on the scalp of women who have a good head of hair. Remember, your part line is in the sun whenever you are unless you're wearing a hat. Men with thinning hair need to wear a hat to protect their scalp skin long before they have a bald spot. If they do, then, when they're inevitably balder, they'll have lovely, spot-free scalp skin instead of a scalp covered by liver spots, white marks and scars from skin cancer and pre-cancerous lesions treatments.
  4. A good sun hat needs to stay on your head. This means it needs to fit well. Some hats have adjustable brims so you get the perfect sizing for your head. Also, depending on your activities, you may need a chin strap to keep it from blowing off.

If you're new to full brim hats, keep trying new ones until you find what works for you. When I first started wearing full brim hats, it took me a while before I found ones that were comfortable to wear, worked for my activities and that looked good on me. I went through a lot of duds before I figured out what I liked. Now I have a great hat for every outdoor activity. I even keep one in my car for running errands. I started selling hats in my office because patients were having trouble finding the same good looking and practical hats that I use. The hats have been a real hit so I've added a few to my web site. I want every body to wear hats for sun protection. I've added a little incentive by giving a 10% discount when you buy a hat and my Sun Protection Kit. The combination gives you everything you need for smart, dermatologist-approved sun protection -- and you get a good deal too. If you found this helpful, you may also want to read: Stop The Summer Darkening Of Your Age Spots 6 Tricks For Sun Protecting Your Skin In Really Hot Weather Skip The Tan And Eat Your Veggies For Beautiful Skin Color

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