How to Choose the most Sun Smart Hats

by CARRIE FELTON

Warm, bright sunshine is a fantastic chance to boost your mood, soak up Vitamin D and take your little ones to the beach or the park for special bonding time. 

Unfortunately, too much exposure to UV rays is well-known to cause harmful effects on our skin, eyes and immune system — not just painful sunburn which can ruin a fun family trip, but also illnesses like skin cancer and retina damage.

UV damage early in life significantly increases the risk of these health issues, so sun protection is extremely important no matter your age or your skin colour.

The sun doesn’t have to be very bright to warrant protection, either — the UV Index is a scale measuring the strength of damaging UV rays on any given day, and experts recommend sun protection be worn and used whenever the UV Index is at 3 or higher.

You can check the UV Index daily at http://www.bom.gov.au/uv/ before you leave the house, so you can be prepared.

Remember the rhyme “Under the tree between 11 and 3!” Stay in the shade during the hottest part of the day, between 11am and 3pm.

Newborn skin is particularly thin and delicate, so health professionals recommend that babies under 1 year not be exposed to direct sun. Toddlers can enjoy the sun in short doses, as long as they have adequate sun protection.

At a very young age, sunscreen alone is definitely not appropriate — they also need protective clothing and textiles like rash tops, hats and sun umbrellas. 

Adults and older children still need to combine sunscreen with textile barriers for optimum protection, and it’s good for grown-ups to remember that even if they don’t get sunburnt, sun exposure contributes to photoaging and wrinkles!

SPF 50 is the highest common rating in most sun protection products, whether in a broad spectrum UVA/UVB sunscreen or a textile covering like a shirt, umbrella or hat. Loosely woven materials like raffia and straw still let light through, so those products need to be lined in order to be effective.

But not all hats are alike when it comes to sun protection — a cap or visor shades the eyes, but won’t protect the ears, neck or nape from UV rays. Styles like the Legionnaire (a cap with a neck & ear canopy), wide bucket hats and broad-brimmed hats are the most effective at shielding the sun.

A broad-brimmed hat is classified as being 7.5cm wide or more when designed for adults. All Penny Scallan kids' hats are made from SPF50 cotton canvas with sturdy 8cm brims, meaning they’re plenty big enough to safely shade little faces, ears and necks from the sun without getting in the way or obstructing their vision. (They're also machine-washable, so you can rinse out all the sunscreen residue after a holiday at the beach!)

Remember the 5 Sun Smart rules and teach them to your little ones every time you enjoy fun in the sun!

  • SLIP on a shirt
  • SLOP on some sunscreen
  • SLAP on a hat
  • SEEK shade
  • SLIDE on some sunglasses

Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek, Slide!

 

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