Physical Health, Tips & Techniques, Wellness / Self-Care

Your Scalp can get Sunburned, here’s how to protect it

Hint: triple up on the sunscreen.

words by: Natasha Marsh
Nov 4, 2021

Hopefully we’ve drilled this into your head enough that you can recite it in your sleep: wear sunscreen every day. Indoor or outdoor, hot or cold, rain or shine. No exceptions. But what you probably didn’t know is that your scalp also needs SPF.


As your scalp is one of the largest areas exposed to direct ultraviolet (UV) rays, it is also one of the main places prone to sunburns and UV damage, so it’s important to protect it. In fact, sun damage can create hyperpigmentation (dark spots), pre-cancers, and skin cancers. Aka, it is essential to pay just as much of attention to the skin on your head, as you do to the rest of your body.


Protection is prevention

Because the scalp is an extension of the skin on your face, it is prone to sunburns. The easiest way to protect it is to follow the same SPF recommendations (apply daily, apply every 2 hours) to your scalp. Most experts even recommend apply sunscreen 30 minutes before sun exposure (especially on the hairline) and then reapplying every two hours — regardless if you’re wearing a hat.


Think about it, if your head and scalp aren’t being blocked from the sun – you have a greater chance of sunburns, melanomas, and blisters. People with thin hair are more prone to sunburns on their scalp than thick hair people and will need to apply sunscreen more frequently than every two hours — think every 30-40 minutes.


Great, so what do I do?

Ah, for the good news: there are loads of scalp sunscreen with minimal white residue. The key when selecting an SPF for your hair is to look for a water-resistant formula that will hold with moisture and sweat. Water-resistant sunscreens also work wonders from keeping sunscreen from running into your eyes if you are working out outside. Sprays and powders are great too for their little greasy residue if you’d like to go that route as well.


And please don’t forget your hairline. Often people skip this step in fear of grease, but we promise it won’t be greasy, maybe a little shiny, but not greasy. It will be better to protect yourself in the long run. Layering is also a great way to prevent sunburns. Layering can include sunscreen with a hat or ultraviolet protection factors. The key for your scalp here is the more protection you have on your head, the better.


For more articles related to scalp care, read about:

Tips for a healthy scalp
Scalp care 101
Why eucalyptus oil is the key to a calm scalp


Photo via Shutterstock