People are getting better about wearing sunscreen in everyday life, but few realize how important it is to protect your head in the summer. Since the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says that the sun can damage the skin in just 15 minutes, it’s important to remember your head to prevent sunburns and increased cancer risk, whether you have a full head of hair or are experiencing thinning hair to full hair loss.
1. Apply Sunscreen to Your Head for Sun Protection
If you’re suffering from thinning hair or have lost a substantial amount of hair, applying sunscreen to your scalp is essential. Overlooking this part of the body can make it especially susceptible to skin cancer risk. The scalp is especially prone to squamous cell carcinomas (SCC) along with the face, neck, lower lip, rim of the ear, hands, arms, and legs.
2. Make Sure to Put Sunscreen on Your Hairline
Even if you have a full head of hair, sunscreen is important for your scalp. Sunburn can happen where your hair is parted. People also have a bad habit of applying sunscreen to the face while leaving a large, untreated stripe along the hairline, leaving it unprotected. If you naturally have thin hair or your hair is thinning without substantial gaps yet, sunscreen on the scalp is even more important.
An Australian study found that even a full head of hair provides very little sun protection for your scalp. On average, researchers found that a full head of hair only provided sun protection of 5-17, which is substantially lower than the average sunscreen rating of 30 SPF.
Sunscreens for Hair and Scalp exist and might be a more comfortable choice than applying sunscreen designed for the body, which can leave a greasy feeling on your hair. Also, sunscreens with zinc and titanium oxide as physical sunblock can leave a white residue that you might not want on your head. Spray-on sunscreens, especially if they have a quick dry formula, might feel the best.
Conditioners with sunscreen also exist. However, they’re more of a supplement than a complete solution. If you’re going to be out in the sun all day, using one beforehand will help but don’t rely on it solely.
Similarly, body washes with sunscreen can be a supplement, especially if you use them on your scalp. Just don’t treat them as a substitute for regular sunscreen.
3. Wear a Hat
Even better than sunscreen – and they can be worn together – is a hat. Hats and other head coverings are so useful in protecting your scalp from sun damage even websites for military personnel and TriCare coverage mention this.
When choosing a hat for sun protection, brims are in. A hat with a wide brim all around, unlike baseball caps, can also protect your ears, face, and neck. For that sort of additional protection, select a hat at least 3 inches wide from the face. Some hats even have a seal of recommendation from the Skin Cancer Foundation, though that’s not essential to get the benefits of a wide-brimmed hat.
Men are more prone to wearing hats without a wide brim on all sides so they need to be extra careful to apply sunscreen in places the hat might not protect them, such as on the back of the neck. Even so, wearing a baseball hat, trucker hat, bucket hat, Panama hat or cowboy hat is better than no hat at all. On the plus side, helmets worn for physical safety during outdoor activities, like a bicycle helmet, motorcycle helmet, batting helmet, etc. also provide sun protection for the scalp.
4. The Shade is Your Friend
You can enjoy good weather without literally being in the sun. Beach or large table umbrellas, a tent, awning or shade from a building can keep you cooler and keep away the sun’s rays.
5. Talk to Your Hairdresser/Barber
While technically not about protecting your head, it can protect your health. Ask your barber/hairdresser/stylist to be alert for any changes to your scalp when they cut your hair. It’s difficult for you to tell if a mole on the back of your head has changed color or shape, but your stylist can warn you, allowing you to get it checked and treated much earlier.
For more summer hair care tips, see our prior article.
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Thinning hair increases scalp sunburn risk. If you want to make a change to your thinning hairline, talk to the experts in hair loss at RHRLI. Hair restoration surgeon Dr. Baiju Gohil has a state-of-the-art facility using the ARTAS® Robotic Hair Transplant System. Contact RHRLI for a personal consultation and hair analysis with Dr. Gohil himself to assess whether robotic hair restoration is appropriate for you. Learn more by contacting us today.