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You may have sorted your sunglasses and stocked up on sun cream, but it's easy to forget to protect your head on hot, sunny days. A good sun hat can provide protection from harmful rays as well as keeping direct sunlight out of your eyes, and it can elevate a summer outfit in an instant.
Whether you're looking for a floppy hat to wear on the beach, a foldable hat to take with you on an exotic escape, a straw boater for glamorous garden parties or a classic bucket hat for a 90s fashion fix, we've rounded up a selection of the best sun hats to suit all heads and budgets.
Here are the best sun hats to buy in 2021.
1. Best overall sun hat: Comhats Wide Brimmed Packable Sun Hat
This cute straw hat ticks a lot of boxes and it will set you back less than the price of a posh sun cream. It features a wide brim to keep the sun off your eyes, offers UPF 50+ protection and can be folded to free up space in your suitcase. Made from polyester and plant fibres, it provides ventilation to keep your head cool and it holds its shape after being stashed in a bag or wiped down with a damp cloth. If you struggle to find hats that fit, there's a handy tape built into the sweatband that you can use to adjust the size. The classic style will suit most people – it's somewhere between a bucket hat and a floppy hat.
- Material: Polyester, plant fibres
- Size: Medium (56-57cm); large (57.5-59cm)
2. Best budget sun hat: The Hat Company Ladies Linen Sun Hat
Keep your head protected from the sun for less than a tenner by adding this bargain sun hat to your basket. Made from linen and cotton, it comes in three light shades (natural, caramel and white) and can be worn with its brim folded up or down depending on the level of shade you need. It's comfy to wear and can be folded small so it's easy to stash in your bag to have on hand when for when the sun makes an appearance. It features an elasticated lining to help you adjust it to fit your head.
- Material: Linen, cotton
- Size: Up to 57cm
3. Best bucket-style sun hat: M&S Collection Animal Print Bucket Hat with Stormwear
Buckets are back! Channel your inner 90s style icon and add this retro hat to your summer wardrobe. Designed with British summers in mind, it’s finished with a Stormwear coating to repel water in case you get stuck in a shower and it features a quilted lining so it’s comfy to wear. The leopard print design will instantly add a bit of glamour to any summer outfit.
- Material: Polyester, cotton
- Size: Small-medium; medium-large
4. Best floppy sun hat: Furtalk Womens Floppy Beach Hat
Whether you're heading to St Tropez or St Ives, this floppy sun hat offers shade and style in equal measure. Made from tightly woven straw, it's lightweight and flexible and provides UPF 50+ sun protection. Its wide brim protrudes up to 12cm and offers full coverage for your face, ears and neck and if you're worried that it'll feel hot to wear, there's a handy inner sweatband to help wick moisture away from your scalp. There's an adjustable drawstring chin strap to keep it in place on breezy summer days and it can be folded and slipped into a bag when the sun dips behind a cloud. Pair with a floaty tea dress or a bright sarong for an instant summer makeover.
- Material: Straw
- Size: Medium (56-57.5cm); large (57.5-59.5cm)
5. Best wide brim sun hat: Accessorize Wide Brim Sun Visor
“I buy a couple from Accessorize each year. They’re inexpensive and they withstand some squishing and sun cream or make up stains. I go for wide brimmed as they give the most shade.”
If you hate the feeling of the sun on your face, you'll want to opt for a sun hat with a wide brim and this sun visor from Accessorize is just the ticket. Made from straw, it fits neatly around the head and provides plenty of shade thanks to its oversized brim. The visor design will keep you cool as it allows a little air to flow through and the hat can be rolled up and slipped into a bag when the sun sets. The black outline adds a bit of style.
- Material: Straw
- Size: One size; adjustable
6. Best fedora-style sun hat: John Lewis Fedora Hat
“I have the John Lewis fedora hat. I love it!”
A classic style, this fedora hat from John Lewis is a chic piece of headwear that will complement a range of summer outfits. Made from straw, it's lightweight and comes in a traditional cream-and-black colour combo. Traditionally made from felt, a fedora is an easy shape to wear that will suit most people and this straw version is both comfy and stylish.
- Material: Straw
- Size: One size
7. Best foldable sun hat: Tumi Hand Woven Fedora Panama Hat
“I love it! It looks classy, protects my hair from the sun and keeps me looking polished. It's rollable and you can buy card tubes to put it in for travel. It's well worth the money.”
Hand woven in Ecuador using natural palm fibres, this Tumi Panama hat is breathable and perfect for hot, sunny days. It's a great option to travel with as it can be rolled and stashed in a tube or a travel box (bought separately) to fit into a holdall for a weekend escape or to throw into a beach bag for a day by the sea. It comes in a range of sizes from 54 to 62cm and you can choose from three neutral colour options (white, cream and natural).
- Material: Toquilla straw
- Size: 54 to 62cm
8. Best unisex sun hat: Tilley Endurables LTM6 Airflo Hat
“I love wearing hats and these are really comfy ones, the Tilley is exceptional for wearing at the beach, up a mountain, in the wind!”
If you're looking for a hat that can withstand the elements, this unisex option from hat specialists, Tilley is a great buy. Made from nylon, it offers UPF 50+ sun protection and features an Airflow mesh around the crown for ventilation as well as a wide brim to keep the sun out of your eyes. And when the weather turns sour, it has a water-repellent finish to protect your head from the rain and an under-the-chin cord to keep the hat in place on windy days. There are a bunch of outdoorsy colour options like khaki and olive and a range of brighter shades too including yellow and red. It's pricey but it's built to last and it’s machine washable on a low setting.
- Material: Nylon and polyester
- Size: 55 to 64cm
9. Best adjustable size sun hat: Wallaroo Josie Hat
“I bought the Wallaroo Josie. Its size is adjustable using a string that can be tied inside, so I would imagine it would work well for larger head sizes. It can be squashed in the suitcase and it requires virtually no space at all.”
Great for beach holidays, this brown-and-black straw hat offers UPF 50+ sun protection and has a medium-size brim that provides shade without completely overwhelming your face. It's travel-friendly as it can be rolled and squished into a suitcase or a handbag and the wide ribbon gives it a classic look. The best bit? It features a handy interior drawstring that can adjust the size to fit head circumferences up to 58cm, giving you lots of flexibility when it comes to finding the right size.
- Material: Paper braid, ribbon trim
- Size: Adjustable up to 58cm
10. Best straw boater sun hat: Zakira Straw Boater Hat
Handmade in Italy, this chic hat is perfect to wear at summer garden parties, at the races or on the beach. Made from natural straw, this classic boater style features a flat crown and a wide brim and there are a range of coloured ribbons to choose from to suit different outfits. It'll transport you to a Venetian canal even if you're just wearing it on a pedalo in your local park. It comes in a variety of sizes and is a good unisex buy.
- Material: Straw
- Size: Small (55cm); medium (57cm); large (59cm); extra large (61cm)
What are the best hats for sun protection?
The level of sun protection provided by clothing and hats is measured using a UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) scale, similar to an SPF rating we're used to seeing on sun cream labels. In order to market a product as 'sun protective', it needs to have a minimum UPF 15 rating.
The best sun hats offer UPF 50+ protection, which means the fabric can block out 97.5% UV radiation. Woven and tightly knitted fabrics, heavy cottons and leather can provide good levels of sun protection. Polyester and nylon can disrupt UV rays too.
Consider a hat with a wide brim of at least 7cm to protect the nose, cheeks and neck. The British Association of Dermatologists recommends wearing a hat, a t-shirt, sunglasses and sunscreen with at least SPF 30 to stay safe in the sun.
What is the best colour for a sun hat?
Dark or bright colours can absorb UV rays better than light colours and can keep them from penetrating your skin. However, lighter fabrics can be treated with UV absorbers, known as colourless dyes, which can also provide a good level of protection.
What is the best sun hat to buy?
We rate the Comhats Wide Brimmed Packable Sun Hat. It's a great all-rounder that will suit most people and it combines function and fashion with its high level of UPF 50+ sun protection, adjustable sweatband and stylish shape.
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