Getting ready for a week-long cruise from Venice, Italy, aboard the Seabourn Odyssey, I was looking for a sun hat. Not just something that would be pretty but something I could pack and that would really protect me from the sun.
I had heard of Wallaroo Hats and thought this would be a good chance to give one an excellent workout. I’m glad I did.
The hat I chose – the Victoria Diva – is packable. It folds flat. It is not made for rolling or twisting or squashing, just fold it flat in the suitcase.
Traveling light is always a concern for me. I don’t want to check luggage unless I really have to so I usually take only a carry-on with all my clothes, plus a laptop computer and my camera gear. But leaving home without a hat is not an option.
I know about skin cancer. Been there. Done that. Everyone should be concerned. All ages. All sexes. All nationalities. No one is exempt from getting skin cancer.
Skin cancer is extremely common on the scalp since it usually gets hit with direct sun exposure, experts say. Studies conducted by professors at the University of North Carolina UNC Chapel Hill found that twice as many cases of scalp and neck melanoma prove to be fatal than cases of melanoma on other parts of the body.
That’s why wearing a high protective Ultraviolet Protection Factor hat is crucial to keep the scalp protected.
The Victoria Diva offers a UPF factor of 50 plus, protecting the sensitive skin on the scalp from 97.5 percent of the sun’s harmful rays. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends a hat with a UPF of 30 or higher for optimal protection to prevent UV rays from passing through the fabric.
For every inch of brim, dermatologists say, you reduce your lifetime risk of skin cancer by 10 percent. Well worth finding a broad brim hat that you like and wearing it.
CHOOSE A WIDE BRIM HAT
Wallaroo hats offer a variety of styles and colors for men, women and children with a choice of a wide brim (some up to 5 inches) for shade and to effectively protect the face and neck.
My Wallaroo Victoria Diva has a 4 ½ inch brim. If you look at one of the photos I am sharing, you will notice how much shade the hat offers. Feel like I have my own personal parasol but don’t have to carry it. Just plop the hat atop my head and there I go.
I chose my Victoria Diva hat in a natural color. I’ve got several black hats but thought something light colored would be better for a cruise. The light color would reflect the sun and go well with summer clothes.
Also I discovered that the hat is wonderful for adding scarves for a bit of color and pattern. Since I always travel with scarves, it was easy to dress up the hat with a different bright scarf, depending on what else I am wearing that day.
Being on a cruise ship means there will be wonderful ocean breezes. Not so good for hats that might blow across the deck on into the ocean. The Wallaroo, however, has a drawstring sewn inside the hat so you can draw it snug or wear it loose. Very easy to do.
Think I might even go a step further before my next cruise on Viking River Cruises – yep, I have another cruise already lined up – and add in a simple slender string so that I can tie the hat under my chin for even more windy days.
My hat can be hand washed in cold water, a nice bonus since it is light colored and I tend to lead an active life. Plus the cost of my Victoria Diva was $38. Not bad. I have seen hats priced $200 and they don’t look any better or serve a better function. Losing a $38 hat or having it become badly stained wouldn’t break my heart. I could then wear the hat for yard work. But having a $200 hat flip into the ocean – oh, my, I would envision how much writing I would have to do to buy another one.
HOW THE COMPANY STARTED
Based in Boulder, Colorado, the Wallaroo Hat Company has an interesting story behind it. The company was founded by Stephanie Carter and Lenya Shore in April 1999 after they discovered the Aussie secret to sun protection with style: colorful UPF 50+ crushable fabric hats.
They began wearing them around Boulder, a city known for its outdoor lifestyle and more than 300 sunny days each year.
It wasn't long before friends and family wanted to know where they got their colorful sun-protection. The team discovered that nothing was available in the U.S. that compared to these UPF-rated fashion "finds" from Australia. Carter and Shore began importing small quantities, quickly realized their potential and launched Wallaroo Hat Company.
The complete collection includes 42 distinct styles in solid, brightly colored fabrics, as well as tropical prints and neutrals. Canvas, loose weave, microfiber, cotton twill, poly-braid, and polystraw make the Wallaroo Hat Collection washable, crushable and versatile for everyday work or play. Each Wallaroo hat has been designed with an internal or external drawstring to make it one-size fits most.
TIPS TO AVOID SKIN CANCER
Besides wearing a hat, what else can you do to avoid skin cancer? Here are some tips from experts:
Wear Sunscreen. It’s one of the easiest things you can do to prevent skin cancer. Doctors suggest a sunscreen that’s SPF 30 or higher and that’s got broad-spectrum to protect from both ultraviolet B and ultraviolet A rays as well as a long-lasting formula, like helioplex. To make this task easier, many daily moisturizers have sunscreen included.
Avoid the Midday Sun. It’s during the midday hours that the sun’s rays are the strongest. Find some shade or go inside when afternoon rolls around. Dr. Rigel suggests spending your lunch break indoors – or if you want some fresh air, look for a shady area.
Get Skin Checkups. This year, about 137,990 Americans will be diagnosed with melanoma and 9,480 will die from it—an average of one fatality per hour. By 2015, it’s expected to strike one in 50 Americans during their lifetime, while one in five will develop some form of skin cancer.
Melanoma survivors are at significantly higher risk for other cancers, particularly breast cancer, prostate cancer, and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, National Cancer Institute researchers reported recently
If melanoma is detected and treated early, the cure rate is 98 percent, the AAD reports. However, if it spreads to nearby areas, survival drops to 65 percent—and to only 15 percent if distant organs are affected.
Sometimes the little spots we think aren’t anything are really cause for alarm. Schedule a once-a-year checkup for your skin just the same as you do for the rest of your body.
For more information: Contact Wallaroo at wallaroohats.com. Each year, Wallaroo donates one percent of company profits to skin cancer research, education and prevention in the United States.