The Perfect Sun Hat: What Works and What Doesn’t

The perfect sun hat

The perfect sun hat to protect your precious face, neck, scalp and ear skin from sun damage - what are the essential characteristics? Is any had good enough to trust? No! As a dermatologist who has treated skin cancer for over 30 years, and who has done over 200,000 skin exams on cancer-prone patients, I know what works. My patients and I have learned. You can benefit from our experience!

dermatologist approved sun hat

The perfect dermatologist-approved sun hat is an important tool for sun protecting the area of your skin most prone to skin cancer.

Sun-protecting your skin isn't just about wearing sunscreen anymore. Healthy sun protection is about keeping the sun's rays from ever reaching your skin and a hat is one of the most important ways to do that. Your face and neck get the most sun of all your skin, and it's where we doctors find the most skin cancers. It's also the most wrinkled part of anyone's skin, and that, too, is because of sun exposure. Outwit wrinkles and skin cancer by wearing a great sun hat when you're in the sun.

What are the 4 Essential Characteristics of a Dermatologist-Approved Sun Protection Hat?

1. UPF 50 material:

A reliable sun protection hat must be made of sun impenetrable material. Many hat companies are now rating a hat's sun protection qualities and ideally you want a hat that says it has a UPF 50. A lot of good hats aren't rated, however, and you can always test their sun permeability with my Detecto Ring.

2. Full circumference brim:

It must have a full circumference brim measuring 3 to 5 inches. The brim needs to be firm enough that it doesn't fold and buckle in the wind, leaving you exposed.

Know that a billed hat like a visor or baseball hat is never good enough; it's job security for me because a billed hat doesn't protect the sides of your face, your ears and your neck. Never depend on billed hats for sun protection when your outdoors.

3. Scalp protection:

The hat needs to cover your entire scalp with sun impenetrable material. This means no visors and no hats with mesh tops. Trust me, you don't want skin cancer on your scalp and it's all too common. I can't tell you how many cancers I find on the scalp of women who have a good head of hair.

Remember, your part line is in the sun whenever you are unless you're wearing a hat. Men with thinning hair need to wear a hat to protect their scalp skin long before they have a bald spot. If they do, then, when they're inevitably balder, they'll have lovely, spot-free scalp skin instead of a scalp covered by liver spots, white marks and scars from skin cancer and pre-cancerous lesions treatments.

4. Secure fit:

A good sun hat needs to stay on your head. This means it needs to fit well. Some hats have adjustable brims so you get the perfect sizing for your head. Also, depending on your activities, you may need a chin strap to keep it from blowing off.

    Your sun hat may be utilitarian.......

    great sun hats that are practical

    Your sun hat may be fashion forward.........

    great sun hat that is fashionable

    Just make sure that it has the 4 characteristics of a dermatologist-approved sun hat!

    And make sure that it's on your head when you are outside during the day!! - Dermatologist Dr. Bailey

    Whatever sun hat you choose, be certain you love it, wear it, and let it protect you from direct UV ray assault!

    If you're new to full brim hats, keep trying new ones until you find what works for you. When I first started wearing full brim hats, it took me a while before I found ones that were comfortable to wear, worked for my activities and that looked good on me. I went through a lot of duds before I figured out what I liked. Now I have a great hat for every outdoor activity. I even keep one in my car for running errands.

    perfect dermatologist approved sun hat economical
    Shop the bucket hats I wear and recommend. 

    I started selling hats in my office because patients were having trouble finding the same good looking and practical hats that I use. The hats have been a real hit so I've added a few to my web site. I want everybody to wear hats for sun protection.

    Shop my well-priced, easy to wear and attractive sun hats. Some come in kits with sunscreen and other sun protection tools. 

    SunSavvy Ready Around Town Kit 

    sun protection hat and sunscreen kit


    B.L. DIFFEY, J. CHEESEMAN, Sun protection with hats, British Journal of Dermatology, Volume 127, Issue 1, 1 July 1992, Pages 10–12,

    Robinson JK. Sun Safety. JAMA Dermatol. 2018;154(3):380. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2017.5256