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Road test: Stylish sun blockers

Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

Ah, the joys of the tropics: warm weather, clear skies, sunburned faces. We tested several products that advertise they'll help buyers avoid overexposure to the sun's rays. Some — like a sunbrella (an umbrella that supposedly blocks 98% of the sun's rays) — were more bothersome than beneficial. But a couple of new hats made our wish list. Besides looking fun, both have high sun-protective ratings.

First look: Picture yourself on a French Riviera beach in this flirty sun hat from Coolibar. The company's Packable Wide Brim hat is made from a new polyester fabric that looks like straw but packs (and washes) like cotton. The company says the hat is rated at 50-plus UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) and claims that it blocks 98% of the sun's rays.

Likes and yikes: The hat's sexy 4-inch brim does a good job of shading your face and neck. And the straw look-alike fabric lived up to the company's claims by coming out of a suitcase looking much the way it did before we crushed it inside between two pairs of shoes. Other pluses: It looks stylish and is fairly lightweight, keeping it from being too hot. The downside: The broad brim catches easily in the wind.

The 411: $29.95. Available in tan, white, black, aquamarine, deep pink and deep honeydew. One size. Coolibar, (800) 926-6509, www.coolibar.com.

First look: Solarveil's Ultimate Sun Hat is made with a special patented fabric that's advertised as a permanent sunscreen. It's an airy fabric, reminiscent of the fiberglass curtains your grandmother may have used in the '60s.

Likes and yikes: The guys standing around our office water cooler liked this lightweight safari-style hat — maybe they all pictured themselves as Indiana Jones types dashing off on adventures with its flaps flying in the wind. The hat has a 3-inch brim that offers good sun protection for face, neck and ears; mesh to keep you cool; and a slider lock in the back to tighten the hat. A shirt collar clip will keep it from blowing away in the wind, but it probably won't help you keep it on when a gust hits. Packable and washable.

The 411: $29.95. Available in white and khaki. One size. Solarveil.com, (800) 400-3377, www.solarveil.com.

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