When Does a Hat Provide Enough Sun Protection?

by ChaoRanky on Apr 02, 2020

When Does a Hat Provide Enough Sun Protection?
Disclaimer: we are not medical professionals. We are simply providing a guide to picking a hat that provides some bit of sun protection. If you have serious concerns about potential sun damage to your skin, we recommend consulting your doctor.

The sun is shining, the grass is green, and it’s time to hit the beach. What is also out is higher levels of UV rays than is usual, and fewer precautions to protect our skin than there might regularly be. What makes a hat a good sun hat? Is it enough that it be fashionably floppy and stylishly sun-blocking, or is there more to it than that? From the practically perfect hat, to the truly sun blocking, we have you covered, but there is a bit more to picking out what you need than grabbing the hat that looks best on you.

For starters, most any hat that provides any protection at all should be fairly generous through the brim, and while a fedora provides some sun protection, good brim coverage starts at about three inches through the brim, and up. Every little bit helps, of course, but we recommend starting there.

Also, if you are looking for something that is just there to keep the sun off of your head, most hats will do the trick. If you are looking for actual protection from those nasty UV rays, you should be able to hold your hat up to the sun, and see not a lot of light through the weave of the hat. The looser the weave of the hat, the more it will breathe, of course, so there is a sort of cost-benefit analysis here, and only you can decide what you really want from the weave of the hat.
This brings us to the famous 50+ UPF rating that so many people are out looking for. Not to be confused for 50+ SPF, and there is no reason not to double down on a little sunblock when you are out wearing your favorite hat, don’t get us wrong, but we can’t help but wonder what 50+ UPF actually means.

Many hats recommended by doctors for sun protection are rated 50+ UPF, which stands for 1/50th Ultraviolet Protection Factor. What this means is that the hat is rated to only allow 1/50th of all harmful Ultraviolet Rays through the hat to your skin, which is pretty darn good protection for anything short of your better brand of spacesuit. What is really important to keep in mind about this rating of sun hat is that it is still only protecting you from UV rays that pass through the hat, so it’s still recommended that you wear at least a three or four inch brim to best shield a large amount of your face from the sun.

This brings us to our next subject, which is reflected UV rays. The UV rays can still bounce off of the water, if you are swimming or sailing, or off of bright sidewalk or parked cars, so if you have some real skin conditions or concerns, it is still best to consult your doctor for full advice regarding skin protection, and what you specifically need to fully suit your needs.

So what are you looking for in a summer hat? Breathability vs. UV protection cost benefit analysis is one thing to keep in mind, and you should always aim to have at least a three or four inch brim on. Whether or not you need a 50+ UPF hat is something to talk to your doctor about, but it’s a safe bet in a better-safe-than-sorry world.
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