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Exactly How to Protect Your Hair and Scalp from the Sun This Summer

BY Alyssa Montemurro

When it comes to sun protection, we all know how critical it is to apply sunscreen to our bodies, but if we had to put money on it, we’d bet that you’re likely not using SPF on your scalp and hair. Are we right? 

Hey, we get it; rubbing thick, greasy lotions into your hair isn’t exactly the most appealing thing in the world, but that doesn’t make it any less essential. Just like your skin, both your scalp and hair are at risk for UVA/UVB damage, making daily SPF an absolute must. After all, do you really want to deal with frayed, brittle strands, brassy undertones, or, worst case scenario, potentially deadly skin cancer? We didn’t think so, which is why we went ahead and put together this quick-and-easy guide to protecting both your scalp and your hair from the sun this summer. Consider these your new beach day essentials.

Scalp-Specific Sunscreens

If you apply your normal sunscreen to your scalp, it will most likely turn your hair into a lank, greasy mess, which is a problem nobody wants to deal with. Thankfully, sun protection has come a long way in recent years, leading to such genius innovations as scalp-specific sunscreens, which are specifically designed to protect your scalp without ruining your carefully crafted hairstyle. How do you go about choosing the right one? Easy—look for a water-resistant formula with at least SPF 30 protection. And whatever you do, don’t forget to reapply regularly throughout the day, particularly after getting out of the water, which is when your hair is most vulnerable.

Supergoop! Poof Part Powder SPF 45, $45.
Coola Organic Scalp & Hair Mist SPF 30, $26.
Brush On Block Mineral Sunscreen Powder, $33.

Sun-Proof Conditioning Treatments

If you’re thinking, “wait, I understand protecting my scalp, but do I really need to protect my hair too,” we’ve got one word for you: yes! While your delicate strands may not be susceptible to sunburns like your skin, they can still be severely damaged by the sun’s harmful rays, resulting in a dry, brittle mane. This holds especially true if your hair is color-treated, as the oxidizing damage from UV exposure can cause your hair color to fade or become dull and brassy. 

To protect your stands, start by reaching for the right shampoo and conditioner. In this case, a sulfate-free formula with added color protection, like our customizable hair care formulas. In addition to being free of any sulfates—you know, those nasty ingredients that strip and dehydrate your strands, causing them to become dry and frizzy—they can also be customized to include our hydrate and color protection hair goals, which will help block out those damaging UV rays and prevent your color from fading, while also giving your hair the healthy moisture that it needs.

For added protection on-the-go, we also recommend investing in a good leave-in product that can help form a protective barrier around your strands to help lock in moisture and shield your hair from environmental aggressors. Look for one that’s chock full of hydrating ingredients like argan, coconut, or avocado oil—you already know our customizable leave-in treatment is our go-to—throw it into your bag, and apply it throughout the day. The added moisture will help keep your strands looking sleek and healthy, while the UVA/UVB protection will ensure your color lasts longer than your summer tan.

Playa Endless Summer Spray, $24.
Aveda Sun Care Protective Hair Veil,$29.
Function of Beauty Customizable Leave-In Treatment, $18.
Bare Republic UV Protecting Dry Shampoo, $15.

Put a Hat on It

While all of these products are great at protecting your hair from the sun and surf, there’s no denying that the absolute best way to shield your strands from damaging UV exposure is to simply their exposure. While wearing a wide-brimmed hat is certainly ideal, especially if you plan on being in the sun for an extended period of time, we get that not everyone is a “hat person.” In that case, do yourself a favor and opt for a protective hairstyle, like a slicked-back ponytail or top-knot, both of which will help shield your scalp from the sun and prevent any split ends or breakage from occurring. Trust us—your hair and scalp will be all the happier for it! 

Cuyana Oversized Straw Beach Hat, $115.
Topshop Twill Stripe Bucket Hat, $26.
Madewell Packable Mesa Straw Hat, $38.

Ready to sun-proof your hair care formula? Head here to start customizing!