You probably own a sunscreen tailored for your skin type and know to reapply at least every two hours or after sweating and swimming. But did you know that your scalp is also at risk for sunburns and potentially skin cancer?
While hats and even our own hair provide some sun protection, doctors say using a scalp sunscreen will guard your head against ultraviolet rays that speed up aging and cause long-term UV damage. Whether you have a bald head or just need to brush some SPF along your part, these doctor-approved scalp sunscreens will protect your skin 365 days a year.
Best Scalp Sunscreens
What Kind of Sunscreen Is Best for the Scalp?
You could get away with using your regular face sunscreen on your scalp, but unless you're bald, the application can get messy. To help you discover the best scalp SPF for your needs, our beauty editor, Nicole Saunders, connected with a few doctors for their skincare guidance. Our experts also include board-certified dermatologists Dr. Hadley King, M.D., Dr. Neda Mehr, M.D., and Dr. Christina Lee Chung, M.D. FAAD.
The most important aspect of any sunscreen is the SPF level, which indicates how long it'll take for your skin to turn red if you apply sunscreen as directed by the brand. Our experts agree that you need at least SPF 30 coverage for your scalp, face, and body. Anything less than 30 is doable if you're in a pinch, but it's not ideal because your skin is exposed to more ultraviolet B (UVB) rays associated with burning and skin cancer.
Our experts highly recommend using a broad-spectrum sunscreen to protect you from UVB and ultraviolet A (UVA) rays associated with aging. Mineral sunscreens are naturally broad-spectrum, but not all chemical sunblocks guard you against UVA and UVB rays. Luckily for you, all of the scalp sunscreens on our list are broad-spectrum to help prevent sunburns.
Although what matters most is that you actually wear and reapply your scalp sunscreen at least every 2 hours, there are some benefits and limitations to different scalp sunscreen formulas.
- Spray sunscreens are user-friendly for defined areas like the part and hairline and are generally easier to apply to the scalp compared to creams and powders.
- Powder sunscreens are also fantastic for protecting your part and bald heads because they are non-sticky and absorb quickly. The only downside is they take a little longer to dust over a completely bald head.
- Creams and lotions are great for bald heads because you can slather them across your head without creating a mess — but if you have a lot of hair, you'll probably want to skip these formulations.
- Stick sunscreens are similar to powders — they're great for protecting your part, hairline, or a bald head, and given their compact size, they're also great for travel and touchups.
Now that you have a clear understanding of why you need to rock scalp sunscreen and what to consider when shopping for one, here are the best doctor-approved options available right now.