By Leah Fletcher
During the hot, sunny and humid summer, hats may be practical, attractive and fun to wear. A variety of summer hats may give your wardrobe versatility, save you money and provide a great cover for a bad hair day. Hats also offer protection from the sun’s harmful UV rays.
Whether you elect to purchase your hat from an upscale boutique, design and sew your own or embellish one you already own by adding a personal touch, such as a ribbon or a silk flower around the crown, consider the following when deciding on a summer hat:
Brim size matters
The size of a hat’s brim is an important consideration when you are attempting to protect yourself from the sun. The brim blocks direct ultraviolet rays to the face. The shape of the brim also is important because there is a chance of reflected UV rays. Reflected UV rays can bounce up underneath a sun hat’s brim, hitting areas of the cheeks and the chin.
Look for brims that curve down towards the face to protect against the sun’s rays. Broad brim hats that go around the entire hat shade most skin and cover the ears. It’s a good idea to choose hats with brims three to five inches wide for optimal sun protection. Small brim hats, one inch or less, provide much less sun protection.
Consider your choice of fabric
Sun hats are generally made from natural fibers like straw, cotton and raffia or synthetic fabrics like nylon and polyester-based fabrics. Tightly woven fabrics offer the best protection for the face, neck and scalp as they allow the least amount of light to penetrate that hat. Thick fabrics, like canvas, are always a good choice. If you choose a straw or raffia hat, make certain it has a sun protection line otherwise it is too penetrable and allows too much sun to reach the skin. The best protective hats will be made from materials with a rating of UPF 50 or higher, which means the fabric will block 90 percent of the sun’s harmful rays. There also are lightweight plastic hats made specifically to block UV radiation.
Color and sun protection are related
Hats that are darker in color provide better sun protection then lighter hats that allow more light to infiltrate the fabric. The color of the under brim also can provide protection. A sun hat with a dark under brim absorbs more reflected UV rays that can potentially touch the face and help minimize the effects of UV rays and provide less sun glare on the eyes.
With these tips in mind, wear your summer hat of choice knowing you will be glamourous and protected.