The Best Sun Hats to Block UV Rays and Keep You On-Trend
The warm weather months are upon us! But for all the mood-boosting benefits the sunshine provides, it also brings squinting, sweat, and sunburns. This is where sun hats make their grand entrance.
To make it easier to find a sun hat that suits your style, we spent hours reading reviews and rounded up the best options for all head shapes and sizes. The Nordstrom Straw Panama Hat is a crowdpleaser thanks to its classic, compact design and adjustable inner drawstring. Meghan Markle and Jennifer Aniston are often photographed in Panama hats as the design is forever in style and suits casual looks and dressier occasions alike, like when Markle famously wore one to Wimbledon.
Here are the best sun hats for staying cool and keeping your face protected against UV rays.
Our Top Picks
- Best Overall: Nordstrom Paper Straw Panama Hat
- Best Value: Lanzom Womens Wide Brim Straw Hat
- Best Splurge: Eugenia Kim Bunny Hat
- Best Straw: Vineyard Vines Whip Stitch Brim Straw Sunhat
- Best Cooling: Nikki Beach Versilia Hat
- Best Large Brim: Florabella Tracey Hat
- Best for Hiking: Columbia Bora Booney
- Best Bucket Hat: Boderier Casual Bucket Hat
- Best for Travel: Madewell Packable Straw Fedora Hat
- Best Sun Hat-Visor Combo: Joywant Wide Brim Visor Hat
Best Overall: Nordstrom Paper Straw Panama Hat
Best Value: Lanzom Womens Wide Brim Straw Hat
Best Splurge: Eugenia Kim Bunny Hat
Best Straw: Vineyard Vines Whip Stitch Brim Straw Sunhat
Best Cooling: Nikki Beach Versilia Hat
Best Large Brim: Florabella Tracey Hat
Best for Hiking: Columbia Bora Booney
Best Bucket Hat: Boderier Casual Bucket Hat
Best for Travel: Madewell Packable Straw Fedora Hat
Best Sun Hat-Visor Combo: Joywant Wide Brim Visor Hat
What to Keep in Mind
Fabric and Material
The first component to look for when shopping for a sun hat is what fabrics and materials are used. Effective sun protective clothing has a weave tight enough to block the sun's rays from reaching your skin. In addition to a tight weave, opt for polyester, nylon or silk, for even better protection. Ventilation in a hat might be important for cooling air flow, but keep in mind that it has a more open weave that exposes your scalp to a potential sunburn.
While sunscreen is your first line of defense against sun damage, a full day in the sun requires even more protection. If you're wanting more than a stylish shady cover, you'll need to look for a UPF rating between 30 and 50 for max sun protection.
Sun hat brims generally span 2 to 5 inches in length. A wide brim hat is 5+ inches. A wider brim hat will not only cover your face, but also help to protect your ears, neck, and potentially even the tops of your shoulders. Because the wider brim will block more of the sun's rays throughout the day, it can also hinder your peripheral vision. If you're doing an active adventure, like a hike or wandering a city on vacation, a smaller brim may be a better option. Versus a full day at the beach may require a larger brimmed hat to keep you cool and sunburn free.
Your Questions, Answered
Do sun hats block UV rays?
Not only are sun hats stylish, they are an extremely effective way to protect your skin from UVB and UVA rays. While sunscreen is always an absolute must, there's no better way to ensure that your skin stays protected than with a physical barrier. The American Academy of Dermatology even considers protective clothing a necessary component to keeping your skin safe in the sun.
What is a UPF rating?
Much like SPF, these ratings indicate how much sun you'll be exposed to – only UPF is used in reference to fabrics. UPF stands for Ultraviolet Protection Factor, and The Skin Cancer Foundation explains that the number is in reference to the amount of UVB and UVA radiation capable of reaching the skin through different fabrics. For example, if a fabric has a UPF of 50, this means that the fabric blocks 98-percent of UV rays, and allows 2-percent of the rays to reach the skin.
What UPF rating is good?
The Skin Cancer Foundation actually grants a seal of approval to fabrics that have a UPF rating of 30 or more. They specify that "a UPF of 30 to 49 offers very good protection," while ratings of 50 or more are considered excellent.