Prevention » Information Sheets » Sun Protective Hats

Sun Protective Hats

Prevention » Information Sheets » Sun Protective Hats

Sun Protective Hats

To protect the skin from solar ultraviolet (UV) radiation, Cancer Council ACT recommends wearing a hat that offers protection to the face, back of the neck, eyes and ears when UV levels reach 3 and above, in Alpine areas or if spending extended time outdoors.

Broad-brimmed, bucket or legionnaire-style hats provide the best protection from UV radiation, providing the brim is wide enough. Baseball or peaked caps and sun visors are not recommended as they leave the ears, side of the face and the back of the neck exposed- common areas for skin cancers.

Always wear a hat with other forms of sun protection: shade, clothing, sunglasses and sunscreen.

To protect the skin from solar ultraviolet (UV) radiation, Cancer Council ACT recommends wearing a hat that offers protection to the face, back of the neck, eyes and ears when UV levels reach 3 and above, in Alpine areas or if spending extended time outdoors.

Broad-brimmed, bucket (with deep crown) and legionnaire-style hats all provide adequate protection from UV radiation, providing they fit correctly. Baseball or peaked caps and sun visors are not recommended as they leave the ears, side of the face and the back of the neck exposed - common areas for skin cancers.

Always wear a hat with other forms of sun protection: shade, clothing, sunglasses and sunscreen.

Which type of hat?

Wear a hat that provides good shade to the face, back of the neck, eyes and ears when UV levels are 3 or above and when working outdoors. Broad-brimmed and bucket hats provide the most UV radiation protection for the face and head. Legionnaire hats also provide good UV radiation protection. Baseball caps do not protect the head and face and should not be worn as a form of sun protection. 1

Broad-brimmed hat

                   

Brims should be at least 7.5 cm wide for teens and adults (ie 6cm for children). A broad-brimmed hat that provides good shade can greatly reduce direct UV radiation exposure to the face, neck and ears. The brim width for children under 10 years of age should be suitable for the size of their head and ensure that their face is well shaded.

Bucket hat

 

A bucket or “surfie” style hat should have a deep crown and sit low on the head. The angled brim should be at least 6 cm for adults and provide the face, neck and ears with plenty of shade. The brim width on bucket hats for children should be suitable for the size of their head and shade their face well (minimum of 5 cm as a guide).

Legionnaire hat

 

Legionnaire-style hats should have a flap that covers the neck and ears. The side flap and front peak should meet to protect the side of the face. Legionnaire-style hats are more suited to people who are active and doing work involving bending etc.

What to consider when choosing a hat

When choosing a hat think about:

  • the quality of sun protection it offers
  • the type of fabric it is made from (close weave or fabric with UPF 50 is best)
  • whether it is practical (i.e. easy to keep on and doesn’t interfere with activities)
  • fashion trends
  • cost
  • safety
  • ventilation (especially if the hat is to be used during physical activity or warmer weather) and;
  • if wearing a straw hat, a lining will increase protection.

Special considerations for babies and toddlers

Many babies and toddlers do not like to wear hats. Persistence is key and required to teach them that a hat is part of their normal outside play routine.

For babies, choose a design such as a soft legionnaire hat that will crumple easily when the baby puts their head down.

Hats that can be adjusted at the crown or can be tied at the front help secure the hat on a child’s head. If the hat is secured with a long strap and toggle, it may be best to place the strap at the back of the child’s head so it doesn’t become a choking hazard.

When trying a new hat design, keep in mind its size and comfort and make sure it allows the child to see and hear clearly.

Children riding bikes

The Cancer Council’s SunSmart Schools Program does not recommend wearing hats under helmets. Hats under helmets may interfere with peripheral vision and reduce external noise, two important elements to riding safely. To reduce the risk of over-exposure to harmful UV rays when riding, school bike riding activities and events should be minimised, when possible, between 11am and 3pm during Terms 1 and 4. Always use shade if it is available, wear sensible clothing that covers skin and apply sunscreen to reduce the risk of sun damage when riding. Riders may also consider fitting a UV protective cover to their helmet.

Hat accessories

Sun protection accessories such as a broad-brim attachments or legionnaire covers are available for workers who are required to use a helmet or hard hat. There are also attachments for cyclists to help keep them protected while wearing their helmet.

Further information and resources

This information is based on current available evidence at the time of review. For further information or advice contact Cancer Council 13 11 20.

This information can be photocopied for distribution.

References

  1. Gies, P, Javorniczky J, Roy C, Henderson S, Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency. Measurements of the UVR protection provided by hats used at school. Photochem Photobiol 2006;82:750–4.
Last updated July 2015