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Does Your Hair Need Sunscreen?

By HERWriter
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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.

Future Derm 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.

“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.”

The study also found that the rates of ear melanoma were higher in men than women both in the United States and Australia, and that younger women in Australia seemed to be having a rise in the incidence of ear melanoma.

The researchers suggested that the wearing of baseball caps (which has become popular with younger women) may a contributor to the higher incidence of skin cancer of the ear. Baseball caps give the face and scalp protection with their wide brims but very little ear protection.

Future Derm stated that "on days when you just can’t wear a good sun hat, you can consider applying a hair sunscreen. If you use hair sunscreen, be sure to spray your roots and then rub it into your scalp so that your hair doesn’t absorb the entire product without getting any on your scalp."

And when you do wear a hat, go for one that has a 3-5 inch brim all around it, not just a baseball cap.


Why You Absolutely Need to Wear a Hair Sunscreen – or a Sunhat — July 24, 2012. Futurederm.com: The Science of Beauty.

Green, Adèle C. et al. Hypothesis: hair cover can protect against invasive melanoma on the head and neck (Australia). Cancer Causes & Control, December 2006, Volume 17, Issue 10, pp 1263-1266.

Does Sunscreen SPF Help Hair? BeautyBrains.com.

Michele is an R.N. freelance writer with a special interest in woman’s healthcare and quality of care issues. Other articles by Michele are at www.helium.com/users/487540/show_articles

Edited by Jody Smith

Add a Comment2 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

Definitely the Karmin Spray Heat Protector =D

November 3, 2016 - 3:05pm
EmpowHER Guest

I have been using the karmin Spray Heat Protector and works really well for my hair =)

July 28, 2016 - 11:04am
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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.