With reports finding that some sunscreen chemicals contain carcinogens and hormone-disrupting chemicals, you might be wondering what to do to protect you and your family from sunburn this season. While most dermatologists certainly aren't advising people to ditch sunscreen, most do agree that sunscreens alone aren't enough to protect you from too much sun. Instead, many leading doctors recommend an arsenal of interventions to fend off overexposure, and one tool is a trusty sun-protection hat.
The problem is that not all hats are created equal and some could be leaving sensitive skin areas unprotected. And remember, hats work best in direct sunlight, not on cloudy days, on which the light is more diffuse, Ira Davis, MD, spokesperson for the American Academy of Dermatology, advises. Diffused light is scattered about more, making it harder for the hat to protect your face, ears, and neck. Here's how expert dermatologists rate different types of hats in terms of sun protection. (Dr. Davis also recommends combining using sunscreen, wearing sun-protective clothing, and avoiding sun between 10 a.m. and 3 or 4 p.m. as a way to cut back on exposure to the sun's most powerful rays.)
Summer Hats: Do They Protect You?
1. Straw Hat
Straw hats are popular in the garden and at the beach because the lighter material also breathes well, providing comfort in hot climes. But unless there's a tightly woven cloth fabric lining the inside, you're not getting the sun protection you need. "Materials like straw are cooler to wear, but can be loosely woven," explains Robin Ashinoff, MD, chief of dermatologic, Mohs, and laser surgery at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey.