A proper sun protection hat is one of your most important tools to sun protect your skin. Yes, smart sun protection has now gone beyond simply wearing sunscreen – you need a good hat too.
Your goal is to prevent UV rays from ever getting into your skin. Since sunscreens are not perfect, you need additional strategies including the creation of mobile shade when you wear a hat. Know that your face and neck get the most sun exposure of all your skin. The head and neck area is where we dermatologists find the most skin cancers. It’s also the most wrinkled part of anyone’s skin because of the cumulative lifetime sun exposure.
Outwit wrinkles and skin cancer by wearing a great sun hat when you’re in the sun.
How do you pick a great sun-protection hat?
Know the four essential characteristics of the perfect sun protection hat.
- It needs to be made of sun impenetrable material such as UPF 50 fabric. Many hat companies are now testing and rating a hat’s sun protection qualities. Look for a hat that’s been rated UPF 50 or one that you can’t see any light coming through.
- It must have a full circumference brim measuring at minimum 3 inches. The brim also needs to resist folding and buckling in the wind. A billed visor or baseball hat is not good enough because neither has a full circumference brim. These type of hats provides “job security” for me. Don’t let these hats give you a false sense of security … and eventually send you to my office. To avoid that, you need to shade the sides of your face, your ears, and your neck to prevent skin cancer and sun damage in those sensitive places.
- The hat needs to cover your entire scalp with sun impenetrable UPF 50 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. No matter how much hair you have on your scalp it will part and leave you exposed. Also, hair thins on the top of the scalp long before you know it.
- A good sun hat needs to stay on your head and not be fussy or annoying. This means it needs to fit well and hold securely. Look for a hat with adjustable brim sizing so you get the perfect sizing for your unique head. Also, depending on your activities, you may need a chin strap to keep it from blowing off.
I want you to become a “hat person” so it’s my goal to tempt you into trying a proper sun hat. If you’re new to full brim hats, know that it takes some getting used to. Once you get used to them, you’ll feel odd in the sun without a hat, like you do if ride in a car without a seat belt.
My last bit of advice is to keep your sun hats in convenient places. I keep one in my car, in the summer there is a bucket hat rolled up in my purse, there is one in my kitchen by the door too. Make it convenient to wear your sun protection hats outside – I’ve priced them so that you can afford more than one!
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