When it comes to sun protection, a floppy hat is one of the easiest and thorough tools to use to block harmful rays. Lately, celebrities like Bella Hadid—who recently posted an Instagram of herself sporting an oversize straw hat that shades her entire body—have been jumping on the extra-large floppy-hat bandwagon, a trend started by French designer Simon Porte Jacquemus, reports Vogue. And since docs say it could help keep your pout healthy and safe, the trend is a prime example of fashion meeting—or even building upon—function. (But, warning: If you want to participate in this fashion wave, you’re probably going to need to buy some bigger luggage before your next tropical getaway.)
According to dermatologist Libby Rhee, DO, XL floppy hats offer some of the best UV protection, helping to prevent skin cancer and advanced photo-aging. “Wide-brimmed hats are particularly beneficial because they can provide 360-degree protection from the sun,” she tells me. And though you definitely don’t need one that’s as literally over-the-top as Hadid’s, you do need to know a few things to look for before you hit the “buy” button.
Dr. Rhee recommends a hat that has a tight synthetic weave without visible perforations and has at least a three-inch brim for optimal coverage. “This size ensures that your ears, neck, nose, and rest of your face are adequately shaded. As a general rule, if you can see through the material—such as with linen, silk, or a loose basket weave—most of the UV rays will get through the hat and onto your skin despite wearing a hat,” she says.
Your best bets for optimal protection? A tightly knit straw hat or one made of thick, opaque, darker-colored fabric. If you’re not sure about your choice, take the easier route and look for options that have UPF—AKA ultraviolet protection factor—listed on the label. Rhee says most of them have a UPF of 50 or greater, which means “only 1/50th of the UV rays will penetrate the material.”
But, no matter how well a quality hat can protect you from the sun, make sure it’s not your only form of defense. “Wearing a hat, of course, doesn’t mean you can skip the sunscreen,” Dr. Rhee says. “Ambient sun exposure can be reflected off the water, sand, and other surfaces. This means that even with a wide-brimmed hat, you can be susceptible to the harmful UV rays if your skin isn’t adequately protected.”
So, before you go outside, lube up with some sunblock, and grab one of these super-stylish floppy hats—plus a pair of peepers-protecting mirrored sunglasses—to make sure you have your safest summer yet.
Check out 5 floppy hats for fashionable sun protection below.
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