Choosing the Best Sun Hat

Heads up: the right hat is your first line of defense against summer sun damage.

By Leah Zerbe



4. Bucket Hat
The bucket hat offers some of the same protections of the flap hat, but does this to a lesser degree. This style of hat is popular among fisherman, but vulnerable areas should be slathered with a safer sunscreen, particularly if you're on the water, which reflects the sun's rays.

The bucket hat is a good, not great, option for the summer sun.

5. Cowboy Hat
Farming is making a comeback, particularly among younger, sustainable-living types. Whether you're herding cattle or just donning a 10-gallon cowboy hat for fun, think of it as middle of the road in terms of sun protection; part of the sun solution, but not complete protection. "The cowboy hat is good because there is some coverage of the ears, forehead, and neck," notes Dr. Ashinoff.
The cowboy hat, which has made a recent fashion boom, is a solid option for the sun.


6. Flapper Hat
The 1920s-style flapper hat is making a comeback in terms of fashion, but it's lacking in sun protection. "It only really covers the scalp," says Dr. Ashinoff. Save this hat for sunless nights out on the town, and turn to more powerful sun-protection hats, like a trusty wide-brimmed hat, during the day.

The "flapper" hat provides essentially no shade or protection from the sun.
7. Wide-Brimmed Hat
The wide-brimmed hat is hailed as one of the top performers among sun-protective hats. For every inch of hat brim you regularly wear, you’re reducing your risk of cancer by 10 percent. So a hat with a four-inch brim, worn regularly, could slash your skin cancer risk by 40 percent, according to skin cancer experts. That said, you have to consider a few things. Dr. Davis says a hat should have a brim of at least three inches. Better yet, seek a wide-brimmed hat made of SPF 30+ material, like those from companies like Tilley, Coolibar, and Sun Precautions, Dr. Davis adds.
The wide-brimmed hat is probably your best option for the summer sun.