Girl looking at tortoise with sun hat on

Slip, Slop, Slap - Sun Hats - do they work?

As a blue eyed, freckled faced milliner it is particularly pertinent to address the exceptionally strong rays of the sun and how we can protect ourselves.  Do sun hats offer protection from the sun's harmful UV rays?  Do they work?

The national and international health authorities including the World Health Organization have assessed that continuous exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun causes harmful effects on the skin, eyes and immune system. Sadly, the incidence of both non-melanoma and melanoma skin cancers has been increasing over the past decades and it would be remiss of me as a hat designer not to address it.

Here are a few facts, collated not to alarm but to bring awareness that just by wearing the right protection you and your loved ones will enjoy a pleasant summer. 
  • In the top ten of countries with the highest rates of both types of skin cancer and the highest number of deaths from both types of skin cancer are Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the US and the northern European countries.  Currently, between 2 and 3 million non-melanoma skin cancers and 132,000 melanoma skin cancers occur globally each year.  One in every three cancers diagnosed is a skin cancer and, according to Skin Cancer Foundation statistics, one in every five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime.
  • Unfortunately, sun damage accumulated in the past cannot be repaired (starting late to protect is better than never!).
  • Owing to their relative lack of skin pigmentation, Caucasian populations generally have a much higher risk of getting non-melanoma or melanoma skin cancers than dark-skinned populations.  Nevertheless, excessive exposure to intense sunlight can damage all skin types - the risk of eye damage and heatstroke is the same for everyone.
  • Heatstroke occurs when radiation from the sun on the head and neck combined with hot weather leads to high body temperatures (over 40 degrees Celsius). It's most common in urban areas during periods of very hot weather.
  • Water, sand and snow reflect sunlight (sand 20 per cent and snow as much as 80 per cent!), allowing more UV radiation to reach the skin. The thin air in the mountains enhances this effect even further.

Now you’ve read the facts what can you do about it?  Sun Hats - do they work?

The Australians with their knowledge of super hot summers are all too aware of the ‘Slip,Slop,Slap’ campaign where Sid the Seagull sings his wee ditty about Slipping on a top, Sloping on sun screen and Slapping on a hat.  A simple song that since the 80’s has changed the mentality of sun bathing.  Slapping on a hat is all well and good however the amount of protection provided to different areas of the face such as the nose, forehead, cheeks, neck and ears vary significantly depending upon the type of hat and the design.
I designed the TO’CA hat primarily as a practical way to protect my own fair skin and eyes.  It has the minimum width of brim, 7.5cm that the skin foundation recommends.  As much as I love baseball caps for exercise I am aware that whilst they protect my scalp, forehead and nose they do not cover my ears and neck.
The TO’CA hat also has a UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) rating of 50+ with its close-weave fabric to ensure no light gets through. 
Once the sharp, silhouette of the TO’CA had been perfected I now wanted TO’CA never to leave the owners side, after all it wouldn’t be a very good ‘perfect travel companion’!  It must be a hat that can be rolled up and yet spring back into shape when needed. It must also have an adjustable head fitting that can be tightened for larking on the open seas, open top cars and general fun in the sun. The pouch isn’t a necessity but a fun additional feature that is surprisingly useful.
So when considering whether a sun hat works in protecting the wearer from the harsh rays of the sun - yes.  But it must be the right sun hat - a TO'CA sun hat.

…”In the Philippines there are lovely screens, to protect you from the glare, In the Malay states there are hats like plates, which the Britishers won't wear, At twelve noon the natives swoon, and no further work is done - But Mad Dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun….” 

Excerpt from Noel Coward’s “Mad Dogs and Englishmen

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