August, the last month of summer is already upon us and the long awaited summer holidays are looming large. After a mixed start to the summer the weather has certainly turned itself around throughout July. This blog post is just a gentle reminder with a bit of information about the dangers of the sun and preventing skin cancer. We are all made aware of how important it is to protect ourselves from the suns harmful rays and you can do this in many ways:
- Applying high factor SPF sun creams
- Wearing UPF/UV protective clothing
- Avoiding the sun between 10am and 4pm
Applying sun screens on sunny days is something we all do. However using sun tan lotions on the very delicate scalp area is just not possible for the majority of people. Hats offer UPF rated sun protection and are graded after the material is thoroughly tested. The difference between UPF and SPF is as follows. SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor, SPF increases the timescale your skin can be exposed to direct sunlight before reddening occurs. UPF stands for Ultraviolet Protection Factor, UPF ratings are calculated through testing materials which can successfully block UV rays. Long gone are the days of wearing a hat purely just for fashion.
The various materials used in hat making are tested long before your hat or cap is manufactured. Tests are conducted by national organizations in many countries. During the tests UV light is passed through the material and is measured by a radiation-measuring device. The piece of fabric then receives its calculated rating. A 50+ is the highest possible rating that can be issued. Even a hat with this rating can allow up to 2% of the UV rays to pass through. A rating of 30 can allow 4% to penetrate the fabric. These are still superior values to no hat being worn and 100% UV rays filtering towards your unprotected neck and scalp.
Below we take a look at how UPF levels are achieved before, during & after hat manufacture.
- The Weave: You will have seen countless summer hats made from mostly straw with a very open weave. They are very appealing as its quite obvious your head will keep cool due to the gaps everywhere. However if the air is being let in so are the UV rays, always remember that. The tighter the weave or knit the better the protection. Closed weaves/yarns and knits are what you need to be looking for in hats and caps.
- The Materials: Some materials naturally offer high levels of UV sun protection. Polyester and nylon do a superb job at disrupting the UV rays. We of course don’t want every summer hat to be made from just these two materials. Several other well known fabrics offer low levels of protection in their natural state. Wool, cotton, rayon, wool & hemp can all receive extra treatments to become as effective as polyester and nylon. Unbleached, natural materials provide better protection.
- Dyes & Treatments: Depending on their concentration, certain types of dye can effectively play a role in reflecting UV rays. Colour plays no role reflecting the rays. The colour black is well known to offer no protection at all. The addition of certain chemicals also increases the chance of disrupting the UV rays. A well known chemical named Teflon is often applied to straw and wool hats. This chemical offers many benefits from sun protection to water resistance. Teflon is often used on a wide range of hats and caps.
I hope the above information can be helpful to you, the later comment regarding the dyeing process is a little more difficult to master. No manufacturer has ever listed dyes used on hats that I have ever seen. The best way to check if a hat will protect you is to look for the UPF Rating certificate, if it has a rating it will be on the hat. Any item that covers the head will provide a level of protection to a certain degree. However always remember that cheap straw hats bought from regular high street chains generally don’t have a UPF rating issued. These types of straw hats are often made from Chinese paper straw. They are bleached, flimsy, open weaved all the things that go against a great level of sun protection from a hat.