Glam - June 1, 2021

How to Protect Your Scalp from the Sun

You may be fastidious about covering every inch of your face and body with sunscreen several times a day in the summer, but there’s one very important area that often goes overlooked: your scalp. Summer scalp care is just as important as taking care of the rest of your body—after all, you can’t have healthy hair without a healthy scalp.

The scalp is just as susceptible to sun damage and burning as the rest of your body, but most of us don’t think twice about heading out for a day at the beach unprotected. Whether or not you face dandruff or another scalp irritation, there are a few steps that everyone should take to care for their scalp. We consulted dermatologist Freya Meyer of the Dermatology Institute of Boston for her recommendations of steps that we can incorporate into our beauty routine to ensure a healthy scalp all year long. 

How to Protect your Scalp from the Sun

Every time you add a layer of sunscreen to your face or body, you should be giving your scalp some love too. The most important area to protect is your part, and this is especially true for people with thinning hair or a widening part. 

Don’t worry, that doesn’t mean you have to soak your hair in the same liquid SPF you use on your body. Many of the sunscreen brands you know and trust now offer mineral-based sunscreen designed specifically for your scalp. 

Scalp Sunscreens

Most scalp sunscreens are either powder or spray-ons. Your best bet, as always, is to choose a mineral sunscreen made without potentially harmful chemicals. 

Powder sunscreens feel much like dry shampoo. The spray-ons, on the other hand, tend to contain more chemicals, and at the very least, some form of expectorant to achieve the spray. In addition, Dr. Meyer notes that spray-on sunscreens tend to be more oily, which can make hair look greasy. 

Dr. Meyer recommends Supergoop Part Powder, which is a 100% mineral sunscreen with an SPF of 35. 

Will a Hat Protect My Scalp from Sun Damage?

A nice sun hat is a good starting point, and it can certainly help protect your face. However, woven hats, especially those made from straw, are likely still letting in harmful UV rays. 

Your best bet when it comes to scalp protection with a hat is to use one with a UPF score, which is the fabric equivalent of SPF. UPF fabrics are able to block both UVA and UVB rays. Sunscreen alone is only able to block UVA rays. 

A sun hat with a UPF of 50 blocks up to 98% of UV rays, and you don’t need to put anything in your hair as long as you keep the hat on. 

Who is the Most Susceptible to Sun Damage on the Scalp?

According to Dr. Meyer, taking adequate sun protection precautions is especially important for people with fair skin, light eyes or light hair. However, “everyone is susceptible to sun damage regardless of skin tone.”

What Else Can I Do to Keep My Scalp Healthy? 

When it comes to general scalp health, aside from using sunscreen and a hat, if you don’t experience a dry, flaking, or irritated scalp, chances are you are doing things right. To prevent scalp discomfort, Dr. Meyer recommends taking care to prevent product build-up at the hairline by regularly cleansing with a clarifying shampoo.  

Fine, straight hair types need to be washed more frequently than thicker or coarser hair. And while giving your hair some time between washes can be healthy, Dr. Meyer cautions about skipping shampooing for too long, as oil and product residue can cause scalp irritation. 

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