Keep a Cool, Covered Head in the Sun

Protect your head with hats to block the sun and heat.

The right headwear can make all the difference when you’re out in the sun. Survivors and those in treatment need to take special precautions, as some treatments make skin more sensitive to the sun.

One area of the body you want to always protect from the sun is your head and face. Damaging UV rays can cause a reaction for some survivors, as well as those undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatments. Exposure to UV rays can also increase your risk for skin cancers.

Balancing Comfort and Sun Protection

For those who have experienced hair loss, wearing sunscreen and a hat provides double the UV ray protection. But, for those who haven’t experienced hair loss, covering your head and face is still important to protect sensitive skin from sunlight.

A few things to keep in mind when shopping for a hat:

  • If you’ve experienced hair loss, your hats may be looser than before.

  • You can buy a hat liner to help improve the fit and comfort of a hat you already own.

  • Hats made of natural-fiber materials are best, because they are breathable.

  • Whenever possible, select hats that provide full head, face and neck coverage.

  • Consider your lifestyle and activities when selecting a hat style. For example, some sizes, fits and shapes may work better than others, depending on the activity.

Not sure which headwear might work best for you? The hat styles and accessories below can protect the sensitive skin on your head and help you stay cool in the sun. 

Wide-Brimmed Sun Hats: A wide-brimmed hat is one of the most effective options for sun protection, as the wide brim provides coverage for your head, face and neck. Be mindful of the weave—some sun hats have a very loose weave for breathability, but loose weaves also allow sunlight to seep through.

Cowboy Hats: Another wide-brimmed option is the cowboy hat. Its distinctive style creates shade at the front and back of the head for all-around protection.

Boonies: A boonie is usually made of light, high-performance fabric in a khaki color. It fits snugly around the crown of the head and has a flat, wide brim all the way around. Most boonies also have an adjustable chinstrap that comes in handy on windy days.

Fedoras: While the brim is on the short side, a fedora does offer protection all the way around your head.

Turbans and Scarves: When made with breathable materials, turbans and scarves are a quick and effortless way to keep your head covered. Although your face won’t be protected, turbans and scarves do provide full head coverage—and, depending on how you tie them, you may be able to add protection for the back of your neck.

Bamboo Hat Liners: Liners made of lightweight, moisture-wicking materials like bamboo can improve the comfort of wearing straw hats and other headwear made of rough material. If you’ve had hair loss, a liner can also help your hats fit better.

Baseball caps and visors may offer some protection from the sun, be sure to cover vulnerable skin by also wearing a scarf to protect your neck, ears and other exposed areas of your head.

While it may be obvious to reach for a hat to cover your head in the summer, be sure to cover up in the winter, too. Ultimately, the most important thing is that you have a way to protect your head from the sun. Pick the style that feels most comfortable for you, and don’t forget to slather on the sunscreen.

This material is furnished for informational purposes and is for your personal use only. It is not intended as a substitute for the expertise, judgment and specific advice of your doctor. Based on your condition and treatment plan, you may have different medical needs. Please talk to your doctor before making changes to your care plan.