One of the most common reasons for owning a hat isn’t just for fashion but to keep your head and face protected from the sun during those hot summer months. Now, you already know the basics - you’re going to be out in the sun for a while and you’ve already put sunblock on your face but what’s the best way to protect your head...a hat. But did you know some hats have different UPF (Ultraviolet protection factor) ratings/levels that indicate how much UV radiation the fabric can block? For example, a UPF 50 fabric blocks 98 per cent of the sun’s rays, allowing only two per cent (1/50th) to get through, therefore, reducing your exposure risk significantly. In saying this, any sort of hat material is always going to provide better protection compared to sunblock, find out why below:

SPF (Sun protection factor) is measured alongside time. The definition of SPF from Wikipedia states that “the sun protection factor (SPF rating, introduced in 1974) is a measure of the fraction of sunburn producing UV rays that reach the skin. For example, "SPF 15" means that 1⁄15 of the burning radiation will reach the skin”. So to put SPF in comparison with time, if you are outside in the sun with no sunscreen on and burn in 10 minutes then in the same direct sunlight with SPF 15 on it will take 150 minutes to develop the same burn.

The type of material you are wearing also has an impact on protection. Materials such as denim, canvas and wool are going to be more protective than thin and loosely woven materials. Depending on which type of hat you are after, if you want as much protection as you can get, it is best to choose a hat that doesn’t have holes in it. There are lots of straw hats that are made with holes in them, but at the end of the day, it’s easy enough to use sunblock as well as a hat, after all, a hat is better than no hat.

Then to put SPF sunblock in comparison to UPF hats, it would take much longer for UV radiation to get through the material, even if the material isn’t thick, compared to direct contact with your skin.

Now that we know how important sun protection is let’s look at some statistics on skin cancer in NZ:

  • 80% of new cancers in NZ are skin cancers.
  • An estimated 90,000+ people are diagnosed with skin cancer every year.
  • 480 New Zealanders died from skin cancer in 2017. There were 378 road deaths that year.

Most skin cancers can be prevented. It is important that right throughout our lives we try our best to reduce exposure to UVR (ultraviolet radiation). This means using sunscreen and reapplying every two hours and wearing sunglasses and hats when we’re out in the sun. Here at Hatworx, we have multiple hats with UPF 50 and any hat is better than no hat. We have a huge range of summer hats for you to choose from that will ensure you are protected from the sun.

Quick Facts:

  • The most common places for people to get skin cancer due to the exposure they get to UVR is on the back of your neck, ears, face, nose, temples, and lips.
  • Did you know that wearing a wide brim hat that shades your head reduces the amount of UVR reaching your eyes by around 50%. - sunsmartschools
  • Different colours absorb UV rays more than others. Light/neutral colours don’t absorb as much as dark or bright colours do, therefore, these colours offer better protection.

Below is a guide for spotting melanoma from the Health Promotion Agency sunsmart.org.nz