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A beanie or skullcap is the kind of hat that fits snug to the head, providing maximum warmth and occasionally even a jolt of chicness to your outfit. Here’s how to pick the best one based on your particular style and material needs.

Loads of Colors

This 100%-acrylic style is made by a classic American company, has a stretchy ribbed pattern, and is machine-washable. And ignore the product name—we think it’s perfect for any and all genders.

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Wearing a hat for a prolonged amount of time can create itchiness and discomfort no matter what material it’s made out of, so make sure to pick a fabric that suits you. For example, because acrylic is synthetic, it doesn’t breathe, meaning it will keep you warm but possibly to an extreme: You may end up sweating. On the other hand, if you’re a vegan or sensitive to ultra-warm wool, it could be the perfect pick for you. Cotton is a nice in-between: It’s natural and breathable but also not as insulating.

Slouchy Style

If you don’t love the feeling of a super-formfitting cap, choose a design that you can bunch a bit. This one expands from its original 8 inches to 13 inches at its max.

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If you’re worried about messing up your hair with a beanie, take these precautionary measures: Don’t put a beanie on top of wet or damp hair. (Doing so will basically meld your hair into whatever weird shape the beanie has pressed it into.) The looser the beanie, the less damage it’ll do to your ‘do. So if you’re rocking a style you really like, go for something as loose as possible. And if your hair tends toward the oily side, consider giving it a spray of dry shampoo before you pop on your beanie for the day. (On the other hand, keeping a beanie on for too long won’t allow your scalp to breathe, which can lead to dryness and breakage). When all else fails, go with what feels good: If your beanie is starting to irritate you, take it off for a while! 

Extra-Wide Cuff

A cold-weather chapeau need not be boring. But if you’re not so interested in the flair at the tippy-top of this option, don’t worry: It’s removable!

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 For hats that come with pom-poms or other accessories, read the instructions carefully before laundering. Some hats are machine-washable only if you remove the pom-pom and/or other adornments first. Otherwise, you risk damaging it.

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