The Cancer Society of New Zealand (CSNZ) recommends all students and staff wear hats that provide good shade to the face, back of the neck and ears when outdoors.

Common sites of skin damage and skin cancer are the neck, ears, temples, lips, face and nose. These areas are constantly exposed to the elements are therefore, generally receive more UVR than other parts of the body.

Ultraviolet radiation (UVR) from the sun can cause damage to the eyes and the sensitive skin around them. Wearing a broad-brimmed hat can reduce the amount of UVR reaching the eyes by around

Wearing a hat is one of four SunSmart behaviours recommended by the Cancer Society to protect these areas. Between 10am and 4pm from September  to April, hats should always be used combination with other forms of sun protection practices such as:

  • Seeking shade where possible.
  • Timetabling outdoor activities outside the times when ultraviolet radiation (UVR) levels are most intense (between 10am and 4pm during daylight saving months) wherever possible.
  • Wearing protective clothing – lightweight shirts with collars and long sleeves, long pants or skirts.
  • Applying SPF 30+ broad spectrum sunscreen and regularly reapplying if required (every two hours). For water based activities, sunscreen should be water-resistant.

Factors to consider when choosing a hat for your school

We encourage schools to consult widely with students, staff and parents before introducing one of three hat styles recommended by the Cancer Society. Factors to consider include:

  • fabric type (close weave, dark colour)
  • practicalities (e.g. which hat is safe for sport)
  • cost and availability
  • and most importantly, coverage of face, neck and ears

Which type of hat?


Broad Brimmed HatBroad brimmed hats should have a brim at least 7.5cm wide. A broad brimmed hat that provides good shade can considerably reduce UVR exposure to the face.


Bucket Hat

Bucket or surfie style hats must have a deep crown and sit low on the head. The angled brim should be at least 6 cm to provide the face, neck and ears with plenty of protection from the sun. Please note that brims need to be measured from the rim on the inside of the hat.


Legionnaire Style Hat

Legionnaire style hats should have a flap that covers the neck and meets the sides of the front peak to provide protection to the side of the face.

Baseball caps and sun visors are NOT recommended as they leave the ears and back of the neck exposed.




Purchasing hats

  • Appropriate hats can be purchased through a number of outlets but please check that they meet these guidelines.
  • For Cancer Society hats, visit www.cancernz.org.nz/products

Make wearing a hat a fun part of your school culture!