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Does Your Hair Need Sunscreen?

By Michele Blacksberg RN HERWriter
 
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Does Your Hair Need Sunscreen? 2 5 2
should you be using sunscreen on your hair?
Kristina Afanasyeva/PhotoSpin

We are told to put sunscreen on our skin to protect it from the effects of the sun. So putting sunscreen on our hair should protect it too. Right? Not quite.

According to Beauty Brains, sun can damage hair but not as much as all the other things we do to our hair. Brushing, coloring and even washing can cause more injury.

Beauty Brains went on to say that sunscreen works best when a thick uniform coat is applied. If we miss a spot on our skin, that area can become burned and damaged. Hair is far more difficult to get total coverage since it is made up of thousands of fibers.

You would have to soak your head in a sunscreen solution to get complete coverage since it is virtually impossible to get a good coating from rinse-out products.

And in terms of hair color fading, Beauty Brains said that washing our hair causes more damage and fading than UV light. The best protection for your hair is to use a good conditioner before and after being in the sun and wearing a hat to shield your hair from the sun’s rays.

Dr. Cynthia Bailey has a different take on the need to use sunscreen in your hair. She focuses on protecting your hair as a way to protect your scalp, ears and back of your neck from sunburn and risk of melanoma.

Bailey cited a study about the effect of hair coverage on ear melanoma performed in Australia where the UV light is pretty intense. The researchers found that hair covering the ears provided up to 81 percent protection. Bailey’s concern expressed in her article was that other skin areas on our heads are still at risk from exposure to the sun.

Bailey stated that the hair pigment is what absorbs and filters sun radiation. The pigment can become bleached and degraded, and if your hair is thinning, there is even less protection for your scalp and back of your neck.

“The more time spent unprotected in the sun, the more damage your hair and scalp receives, so it’s important that when you apply sunscreen to your face and body you also wear a hat when you’re in the sun.”

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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