Scalp Sun Protection

Scalp sun protection is really important because scalp skin cancers are especially aggressive.

Plus, sun damaged scalps are fragile and spotty, and your scalp gets a lot of sun over the course of your lifetime.

We know that precancerous growths and basal and squamous cell carcinoma are common on the scalp. I've treat them commonly in my dermatology practice. Melanoma is rarer on the scalp but really dangerous.

Skin cancer on the scalp can be hard to spot early because it can hid in your hair.

How do melanoma skin cancers happen on the scalp?

We know that exposure to the sun's UV rays play a big part in causing melanoma. Most of the melanoma cancers that I have diagnosed on the scalp are in the part line or the hair whorl at the crown. Often it is a person's hair stylist that send the patient in for diagnosis, having spotted the cancer first.

What part of the scalp is the most at risk for sun damage?

The top of your scalp where your hair parts gets a lot of sun. If your hair starts thinning, that usually happens first on the crown too. Many people destined for thin hair, or even some balding, don't realize that very early in the process, hair has thinned enough to expose their scalp skin to too much sun. As hair thins with age, it thins the most on the top.

What this means is that scalp skin is exposed to the sun from the first day of your life. Depending you your hair, that exposure may just be at the crown or vertex where your hair whorl is. (Your hair whorl is the circular pattern of hair growth with a central point that is visible at the top and back portion of your scalp). I see scalp sun damage mostly at the hair whorl and down the part line. When scalp hair is fine or thin, I may see it more extensive.

Most people have experienced sunburn on their scalp at least once, so you know the sun shines there. Every time you are outdoors during the day and not wearing a hat, your scalp is exposed to UV rays. This means that exposure is chronic and significant. This all means that sun protecting your scalp is essential.

It also means that hats are important. Many people don't like the idea of wearing hats, “I’m not a hat person”, “I don’t want hat hair” are common reasons I hear in my practice for resistance to wearing a proper sun hat when outdoors.

What is the best way to protect your scalp from sun damage?

Sun umbrellas are perfect for times when you will be in the sun but won’t wear a hat. You still need sunscreen on your scalp if your head is hatless (see below)!

Wear a dermatologist recommended sun hat to protect your scalp from sun.

  • With a top that block UV rays well because it’s made with UPF 50 or greater material.
  • Has a full 3 to 5 inch brim too to protect the sides of the scalp, face, ears and upper neck.

Look below for the hats I recommend – convenient and economical so they serve you and your scalp skin well.

When you can’t (won’t) wear a hat, apply sunscreen to the top of your scalp. You will need a thin product and my Sheer Strength Pure Physical Spray Sunscreen is the best product I’ve ever found.

Please learn to love sun hats though. I have to admit it took me years but now I’m hooked. I had to try a lot of hats before finding ones that were comfortable, functional and looked great on me. Now I wear my bucket hats all the time. I have them piled in every color on the shelf in my closet and they fit all but the dressiest occasion.

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  1. Dr. Bailey's Sheer Strength Pure Physical Spray Sunscreen SPF 50+™

    Sheer Strength Pure Physical Spray Sunscreen SPF 50+™

    At last, an ultra-light sunscreen spray that’s pure mineral protection with micro (not nano) zinc oxide for the best anti-aging broad spectrum protection. 

    $44.00
  2. Women's Sun Protection Bucket Hats  1250

    Women's Sun Protection Bucket Hats

    Lightweight, cool, and breathable cloth UPF 50 sun protection hats. Get in the habit of wearing this broad−brimmed hat along with your broad spectrum sunscreen − proven effective in the prevention of skin cancer and premature aging. Fits your head perfectly with its clever, adjustable inner brim cord. Highly packable too and makes a great gift!
    $25.00
  3. Men's Khaki Performance Hat  1312

    Men's Khaki Performance Hat

    These stylish and high-performance men's microfiber hats have a breathable mesh lining and a 3 1/4" brim. They fit perfectly and won't blow off because they have both an adjustable chin strap and an adjustable brim strap to hold them securely to your head.

    $19.00

    Out of stock

  4. Kid's Hat (Boys and Girls)  1313

    Kid's Hat (Boys and Girls)

    Good looking and high-performance sun protection for kids.

    $15.00

    Out of stock

  5. Travel Sun and Rain Protection Umbrella  1306

    Travel Sun and Rain Protection Umbrella

    Block UV rays with confidence with this titanium umbrella. Make the shade follow you! This is my ultimate travel accessory and I never pack my suit case without it!

    $45.00
  6. Dr. Bailey's Sheer Strength Pure Physical Invisible Sunscreen, SPF 50™ Broad Spectrum Protection

    Sheer Strength Pure Physical Invisible Sunscreen, SPF 50™ Broad Spectrum Protection

    Enjoy an oil free, non-whitening and “light as air” feel on your skin. Pure mineral zinc-oxide protection that’s perfect for even the most sensitive skin.

    $47.00
  7. Dr. Bailey's Sheer Strength Pure Physical Tinted Matte Sunscreen, SPF 50™

    Sheer Strength Pure Physical Tinted Matte Sunscreen, SPF 50™

    Oil-free and oil control ultra-light and tinted matte technology in a hypoallergenic sunscreen – it’s the holy grail for oily and sensitive skin AND it’s elegant for all skin types too! Contains iron oxide too making it the best sunscreen for melasma. 

    $47.00
  8. Dr. Bailey's Citrix Sunscreen SPF 40

    Citrix Sunscreen SPF 40

    My favorite every day sunscreen! I wear it every day on my face, neck and chest! It gives a great matte finish that's SPF 40 and water resistant for up to 80 minutes.

    $35.00
  9. Solbar Zinc SPF 38 Sunscreen

    Solbar Zinc SPF 38 Sunscreen

    My favorite sunscreen for sports, swimming and sweaty activities. Solbar Zinc provides protection for up to 80 minutes in the water with its hefty 7.5% mineral zinc oxide combined with other chemical sunscreen agents. Oil free and shouldn't aggravate acne.

    $13.00
  10. SunSavvy Kit, Daily Wear Protection   1013

    SunSavvy Kit, Daily Wear Protection

    The best dermatologist recommended mineral sunscreen products for everyday protection. This kit includes Citrix Sunscreen SPF 40 for the face, ears, and neck, along with Solbar Zinc Sunscreen SPF 38 for the chest, hands, and other areas that need sun protection.

    $41.00
  11. SunSavvy Kit, Ultimate Protection  1015

    SunSavvy Kit, Ultimate Protection

    The Ultimate Sun Protection Kit provides everything you'll need to protect your skin from the sun's harmful rays.This kit includes Sun Guard Laundry Treatment, UV Ray Detecto Ring, Vanicream Lip Protectant, Solbar Zinc SPF 38 Sunscreen and Citrix Sunscreen SPF 40 and a mesh travel bag for your products.

    $57.50

    Out of stock

  12. EltaMD UV Daily SPF 40

    EltaMD UV Daily SPF 40

    Broad spectrum UVA and UVB protection in a lovely moisturizing lotion that's sheer and elegant of the skin. Perfect for normal to dry skin with it's hyaluronic acid and just a little light oil to moisturize your skin without leaving a heavy feel.

    $26.50
  13. EltaMD UV Clear SPF 46 Sunscreen

    EltaMD UV Clear SPF 46 Sunscreen

    Completely oil free and ultra light feel on the skin make this sunscreen a marvel. Perfect for oily to normal and acne prone skin. Comes with either a clear or tinted option to help soften complexion flaws for all skin types.

    $32.50
  14. Suntegrity 5-in-1 BB Cream SPF 30 Tinted Moisturizing Facial Sunscreen  1208

    Suntegrity 5-in-1 BB Cream SPF 30 Tinted Moisturizing Facial Sunscreen

    This luscious and all natural face cream is my absolute new favorite face sunscreen! Natural, broad-spectrum mineral zinc oxide protection that feels and looks so good on your skin that you'll want to wear it 24/7.

    $45.00
  15. Suntegrity Natural Mineral Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 30  1127

    Suntegrity Natural Mineral Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 30

    Non-greasy natural non-nano zinc oxide mineral sunscreen for every day sun protection. This is a lovely natural mineral sunscreen made with organic ingredients - and it's not just for babies!

    $24.00
  16. Raw Elements Eco Stick SPF 30 Broad Spectrum Sunscreen  1078

    Raw Elements Eco Stick SPF 30 Broad Spectrum Sunscreen

    At last, the best mineral zinc oxide sunscreen product proven not to run into and sting your eyes - even when you're wet! Reef safe too.

    $16.00
  17. Raw Elements Eco Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Sunscreen Untinted  1307

    Raw Elements Eco Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Sunscreen Untinted

    The highest performance sunscreen I’ve ever found. A product that’s perfect for the most active kids, high powered athletes and sensitive skin all in one! Reef safe too.

    $20.00
  18. Raw Elements Tinted SPF 30 Broad Spectrum Sunscreen  1309

    Raw Elements Tinted SPF 30 Broad Spectrum Sunscreen

    Raw Elements is the highest performance sunscreen I’ve ever found. A product that’s perfect for your most rigorous athletic activities in intense sun exposure circumstances. Reef safe too.

    $19.00

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