We’re all perfectly aware of how much our skin needs sunscreen to keep it from aging and to guard its overall health, but many of us don’t realize our scalps need it just as much as any other body part does.
For the hair itself, SPF is not necessary since it is not made up of living cells, but according to Julia Tzu, medical director and founder of Wall Street Dermatology, the scalp is a different story.
It may be tougher than, say, your belly or your back, but it is just as susceptible to harmful UV rays that lead to sunburn or even cancer as the more obvious places. Trusted experts have put together a guide to help you as you learn to protect your scalp this summer.
Wearing a hat is your best bet
The best-case scenario is to wear a hat – problem solved if your scalp rarely sees the sun! Heidi Waldorf, director of laser and cosmetics dermatology at Mount Sinai Center in New York, recommends using a ballcap, a full visor, or a wicker hat to keep sensitive pores fully protected from damaging rays.
Use a stick to apply sunscreen to your scalp
I know rubbing sunscreen lotion all over your head is a hard thought to wrap your mind around if you like to stay pristine at the beach, so consider using a solid sunscreen stick to make the process less messy and easier to apply – multiple times even! Try: Baby Bum SPF 50 Mineral Sunscreen ($10; target).
Put sunscreen on your scalp while your hair is wet
Before you even head outside and right after your shower, dab some sunscreen on the part line of your scalp. The fact that your hair is already soaking wet helps it to not feel so icky when wet liquid comes into contact with your scalp. As both your hair and the lotion dry, you’re ready to go!
Put your hair up
This may already come naturally to you because we girls have a tendency to throw our hair up when we’re out at the beach or pool. This is good! Having your hair up actually helps to protect your scalp from the potential UV damage. Powder-sunscreen is a great addition as it soaks into your strands of hair and covers the skin underneath.
Protect your hair against UV rays
Cosmetically speaking, “ultraviolet radiation will affect your hair in ways you might want and ways you don’t,” says Waldorf. Most people with natural hair color will experience some highlights as they spend time out in the sun while those with color-treated hair will have more of a fading effect.
Either way, “too much sunlight will dry out hair and make it brittle,” warns Edward Tricomi, master stylist at Warren-Tricomi Salons.
Fortunately for us, there are numerous styling products that also include UV filters while also taming frizz and adding shine. Keep an eye out for moisturizing ingredients like argan, coconut, or sunflower seed oils. Try: Fekkai Pre-Soleil Hair Mist ($22; Walmart).