When the weather is chilly, one naturally puts on a wooly hat to stay warm. However, if wearing a hat keeps heat in, wouldn’t wearing any sort of head covering make you feel hotter in summer? This is a hotly debated topic that many people disagree about. To get a definitive answer to this, we have turned to science.
Wearing a sun hat in summer won’t make you feel hotter. It must be well ventilated, wide-brimmed, loose-fitting, and a light color. It will provide a buffer between the sun and your skin, making you feel cooler. A snug-fitting, thick material winter hat will make you feel hotter.
If you were on an expedition to the Antarctic, you probably would not forget to pack a warm hat. But keeping the sun off your skin by using a sun hat in summer may be just as important as keeping warmth in during the winter. Let’s find out why.
Does Wearing A Hat In Summer Make You Hotter?
The short answer to this is yes…no…well, it depends on the type of hat! In the same way that you won’t choose a wide-brimmed straw sombrero for your next snowboarding adventure, you wouldn’t want to use a woolen beanie while sunbathing on the beach.
The purpose of most hats is to insulate our heads, so we don’t lose heat when it’s cold. However, a sun hat has a slightly different function. It needs to allow enough ventilation so that heat rising from your skin can evaporate and not build up inside the hat’s dome and stay close to your skin.
Sunhats usually have wide brims – this is not only a fashion feature but a highly functional part of the design. Direct sunshine on a hot day can be intense. The brim of a sun hat creates a broad band of shade to keep the skin below cool.
If the sunhat is a light color, the sunlight will also reflect off the surface of the hat rather than be absorbed by it. That is why you won’t often find a lot of large back sunhats being worn at the beach because the color would heat up faster than, for example, a white Panama hat.
We have all heard that we lose a lot of heat through our heads, and this is one of the reasons that a lot of people think that wearing a hat of any sort would make you feel hotter in summer. According to the Cleveland Clinic, the heat lost through your head is no more and no less than any other skin on your body.
In total, about 10% of a person’s body heat gets expelled through their head, which is roughly the proportionate amount of the body’s total surface. They argue that if you did lose more heat through your head than other areas of your body, it would make sense in winter to wear a big hat and short pants!
So your head is not the giant radiator/furnace that you may imagine it to be, but it is an area of skin that is often in the direct line of sunshine, so wearing a hat as a barrier makes a lot of sense. Think of a large, loose, well-ventilated sun hat as a mini umbrella for your head.
In an ideal situation, an umbrella overhead would be the best way to provide a barrier between the burning intensity of the sun and your skin without having the discomfort of a hot headband around our heads.
What To Look For In An Effective Sun Hat
No one wants to feel like they are cooking their brains when wearing a hat on a hot day. On the other hand, not wearing a hat brings the danger of being burnt by the sun and squinting our eyes in the bright light.
Choosing the correct type of sunhat can be a game-changer this summer. Improvements in technology and design have come a long way to help design sunhats that will not only keep you feeling cool, they will look good too.
When choosing a summer hat, there are a few things you need to be aware of:
|Fit||Size matters. If you select a hat that feels snug to begin with, it will be even more uncomfortable when things start warming up. Make sure that you can fit at least two fingers between the band and your head when trying it on. When you are out in the warm weather, the last thing you want is to have a tight hatband making red marks on your forehead.|
|Fabric||Straw hats have been popular for summer for a long time. This is because they are highly breathable and light. Usually loosely woven so allow evaporation of heat through the material. Straw hats also offer a timeless quality. They can be casual or chic. Always ensure that whatever fabric you select has a UV protective coating.|
|Design||The broader the brim, the larger the shaded area. The more skin surface you can protect from direct sunshine, the cooler you are likely to feel. If you will be using your hat in a breezy area like the beach, ensure that it has a chin strap, so you don’t lose it in a gust of wind.|
|Ventilation||Not everyone wants to wear a straw hat, and modern sun hats come with a variety of mesh top pieces designed to allow effective heat evaporation. Hats designed to keep you cool are big business—lookout for moisture-wicking fabric and hydro-cooling technology on the top of the hat.|
|UV Resistance||A hat that provides a high UV protection rating will save you from burning. So even if you don’t feel cooler while wearing the hat in the summer heat, you will be grateful that you are protecting yourself from painful sunburn.|
Does Wearing A Hat Increase Body Temperature?
Many people refuse to wear a hat on summer days because they are sure that it makes them feel hotter. This premise was tested in a scientific study published in The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness.
A group of nine well-trained runners was split into groups and, under identical conditions, were made to run for an hour in 87.8F heat. The only difference in conditions was that one group wore running caps.
The end result was that the only slight difference in the cap wearers vs. the non-cap wearers was a slightly higher temperature reading of the surface skin on the forehead of the cap wearers. The overall body temperature of both groups was identical, and the study concluded that when running in the heat, thermoregulation was not negatively altered by wearing a cap.
In real-life terms, this means that when wearing a hat, the skin below where the hatband touches your brow may feel slightly warmer on the surface, but the hat is not making your whole body boiling hot. In fact, if you consider that the hat is probably saving you from getting an uncomfortable sunburn, wearing a hat is definitely advisable.
Do Hats Make You Overheat?
Not all hats are the same, so you need to choose your hat according to the activity that you are undertaking. If you are planning to hike through a desert, a beanie is not a good choice, and yes, you will overheat. However, wearing a wide-brimmed, white hat with a good UV protection factor made from moisture-wicking fabric will keep you feeling cool and comfortable.
The purpose of a sun hat is not only to provide shade to your eyes and face, although that is very important. It also provides a barrier between your scalp and direct radiant heat. Wearing a hat may feel slightly uncomfortable about the browband if it is fitted too tight and becomes sweaty.
As long as the dome of the hat is made from a material that allows constant ventilation and evaporation, the cooling effect of having a large surface of your skin on your face and neck protected from the direct heat will outweigh the slight discomfort of perspiration on your brow.
Why Does Dark Hair Get Hot Faster Than Blond Hair?
While it is advisable for anyone outside in the sun to wear a protective sunhat, there is a really simple reason your blond-headed friend may not overheat quite as quickly as you.
People with dark color hair are more likely to get hotter faster as their hair warms up more quickly. This is because it absorbs light faster than blondies. So although hair all has the exact same potential to absorb heat, blonde hair reflects light. So instead of absorbing all the sun’s heat as it is beating down onto their heads, a blondie’s hair reflects some of the sun’s energy.
Dark color things absorb more energy than light-colored things. Someone with dark hair out in the sun will feel hotter than someone with lighter hair. The effect would be the same if someone was outside in the sun wearing a white T-shirt and someone else was wearing a black T-shirt. The black T-shirt would quickly absorb light faster and turn it into heat.
Regardless of your hair color or complexion, everyone should wear a sun hat in the summer to protect their scalp and face from harmful UV rays. If you are out on the beach, set up an umbrella to provide a barrier between your skin and the sun if you take your hat off.
Can Sunscreen Take The Place Of A Hat In Summer?
The invention of sunscreen that can be applied as an invisible layer over the skin has made many people reluctant to wear sun hats. However, according to experts, the best option for optimal sun protection is to wear a hat in addition to sunscreen.
Sunscreen is great; however, most people don’t apply enough to give a decent level of protection. The next problem is that it is easy to miss bits, and lastly, it should be reapplied every 2 hours to remain effective.
Sunscreen should be considered as another tool in your sun protection kit. However, a good, comfortable sunhat will block the sun’s UV rays before they even reach your skin. A sun hat provides instant shade to protect your face, ears, and neck, but sometimes reflective surfaces like a pool, sand, or beach can reflect sunlight under your wide-brimmed hat. That is why a combination of sunscreen and your hat are ideal partners.
How Do Cooling Hats Work?
Cooling hats are a relatively new method to wear a sun protection hat and beat the summer heat. These modern marvels are typically comfortable, machine washable, and lightweight.
To activate the cooling mechanism, all you need to do is pour water into the inside headband. Then wring it out and wave it about for a few seconds to activate the cooling technology. Hats like the range from Mission Store (available from Amazon below) will feel cool on your brow for up to two hours.
When time is up, repeat the procedure to cool the hat down to 30 degrees below average body temperature.
Another style that includes hydro-chill technology is the highly advertised Arctic Hat (available from Amazon below). These one-size-fits-all hats have an evaporative lining that slowly releases water to keep you feeling cool for longer.
If this sounds a little too damp and soggy for you, select a hat from a sports store made specifically for long-distance runners. These hats are usually ultra-lightweight and include the most modern moisture-wicking fabric to allow moisture to evaporate from your head quickly.
Wearing a hat in summer can make you feel hotter if it is not the correct type of hat. A summer hat should allow heat to evaporate quickly and provide a barrier against the direct radiant heat of the sun.
A scientific study about whether wearing a hat makes you hotter found that although the temperature on the surface of the forehead of athletes wearing hats was slightly raised, it had no overall effect on their core temperature compared to non-hat wearers. Therefore, wearing a suitable sun hat in summer will not make you feel hotter, and it will save your skin from the unpleasant effects of harmful UV rays.