Hats offer a strong defense against developing wrinkles, age spots and skin cancer on your face, neck and ears. But not just any hats. Here's what you need to know to ensure you're getting a chic accessory and maximum protection.
What Sun Protective Hats Do and How They Do It
Hats with full sun protection effectively block the sun's dangerous ultraviolet (UV) rays from falling on your face, neck and ears. UV rays are dangerous because they catalyze skin cell changes that can cause sun damage and skin cancer.
Sun protective hats are made from fabrics that have a high value UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor)—usually 50 or greater. Translated into practical terms, fabrics with a UPF of 50 allow only 1/50th of the UV radiation that falls on their surface to actually pass through, thereby blocking 98 percent of the radiation.
Sun protective fabrics include cotton, wool felt and blends—such as Sunday Afternoons' straw look-alikes made from cotton, wood pulp and polyester. Some sun protective fabrics are intentionally squishable so you can toss your hat in a purse or bag when you're on the go.
Brimming with Stylish Possibilities
Of course, hats with wider brims offer greater protection to your face, neck and ears than hats with narrower brims. You'll find many sun protective hats with brims that are at least 4 inches wide. Manufacturers also offer 3-1/2-inch brims for women who prefer the look of a narrower brim or who want wider peripheral vision.
Some styles sport the brim only in front for a casual look. These styles are best for women who have long hair that covers their neck and ears. If you have short hair and still want a sporty look, try front-brim hats with detachable neck veils. If you're getting too much sun on your neck and ears you can reattach the neck veil and cover them up pronto.
Fit For a Queen
Protective hats come in such classy styles you'll think they were designed for British royalty, including robust colors or muted shades with scarves or flowers—or scarves and flowers—draped around coquettish crowns. Depending on your mood, you can don a hat with a flirtatious floppy brim or one that keeps a stiff upper lip.
Where to Find Them
Sun protective hats are available in many stores, including sporting goods shops, and on the Internet.
For more information on two manufacturers that have received the Melanoma International Foundation Seal of Approval, visit Coolibar and Sunday Afternoons.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun