How to choose the right sunscreen for hair and scalp protection
We’ve written at length about finding the right sunscreen for your skin type, but what about finding the right sunscreen for your hair?
Applying SPF to the top of your head might seem like a novel concept but, in fact, it should be a part of your everyday routine.
‘Sun exposure can be extremely detrimental to the condition of your hair,’ says Susannah Richardson, hairstylist and co-founder of London hair salon Butchers. ‘It can dehydrate and strip moisture from your hair cuticles leaving it dry, brittle and broken.’
Those with coloured hair should be particularly careful about UV protection. ‘Too much exposure can lighten the colour of hair, essentially its stripping the melanin (the pigment that gives your hair colour), causing your hair to look lighter,’ says Richardson.
‘If your hair is already bleached then the sun will strip the colour out even further causing the hair to break and snap off.’
Most significantly, a lack of sun protection along the scalp increases the risk of skin cancer. ‘As a physical blocker, hair does help shield the scalp from some of the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays which can lead to skin cancer,’ according to The Skin Cancer Foundation. ‘However, you need more protection than that — especially where you part your hair and if your hair is thin or you have bald spots.’
Below, we break down the best sunscreens for hair and scalp, as well as moisturising products for any healing damage that’s already been done.
All-around sunscreen for hair
Aveda’s water-resistant UV Defence Mist is an effective and easy way to sunscreen your hair. Simply spray over the scalp and regularly reapply as you would a normal sunscreen. The UVA/UVB filters derived from wintergreen and cinnamon bark oils help protect hair from the drying effects of the sun, while a light perfume made of pure flower and plant essences make hair smell as good as it looks.
Sunscreen for coloured hair
Davines’ SU Milk range is specifically designed to protect colour treated hair from sun damage. Like all Davines products, SU Milk was formulated at the brand’s remarkable Davines Village in Parma, Italy, which is a hub for sustainable production practices practically unmatched in the beauty industry.
The key ingredient in SU Milk is the vitamin-C rich chinotto citrus extract from local farmer Mr. Parodi’s plot in Savona, Italy. The sustainably sourced ingredient contains antioxidants that naturally nourish hair and maintain colour vibrancy. Our favourite product in the range is the spray-on SU Milk, which can be applied as a sunscreen throughout the day or left overnight as a leave-on conditioner for extra hydration.
Instant itch-relief for burnt scalps
Hungarian brand Omorovicza has garnered fame for its ability to package the healing effects of Budapest’s mineral-rich thermal waters in its skincare products. Yet, its recently launched haircare line is an equally revolutionary, if often less-recognised, range of products.
Our favourite is the brand’s Scalp Reviver. Apply a few drops of the formula to your scalp and you’ll instantly feel a refreshing tingle brought on by menthol and lemon peel. It much-welcomed relief for the uncomfortable itch of a sunburned scalp, while its moisturising ingredients ensure skin remains agitation free. Even better, the Reviver’s heavy dose of salicylic acid removes product build-up and unblocks hair follicles, making it an ultra-effective shampoo-alternative.
Deep moisterization for damaged afro, mixed and curly hair
The eponymous hair care line of legendary stylist Charlotte Mensah offers a range of hair products specifically designed for afro/mixed and all curly hair types. For those suffering from dry scalps and sun-damaged hair, Mensah’s famed Manketti Hair Oil is the perfect fix. The oil is formulated with organic, sustainably sourced Manketti Nut and Ximenia oils that add shine, tame frizz, and nourish the scalp.
Apply the oil to dry or wet hair before styling or rub the oil into the hairline and leave overnight for extra hydration.
Dual protection and treatment for sun-damaged hair
The On the Beach hair oil mist from Japanese brand Uka is compact enough to be tucked away in a beach bag but powerful enough to protect from the most damaging effects of a day spent in the sun. The mist can be used as a hair sunscreen when outside and a nourishing treatment oil at the end of the day.
Its amino-rich formulation of acai and argan oil means that it is particularly effective at repairing water and sun-damaged tips.