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The Best Sunscreens For Your Scalp, According To A Dermatologist

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If you’re looking for a scalp sunscreen, you’re already on the right track. As board-certified dermatologist Dr. Marisa Garshick tells Elite Daily, “It is very important to wear sunscreen on our scalp as the scalp is often exposed to the sun regularly without us even realizing it. It is a known area to develop skin cancers as a result of cumulative sun exposure. […] One report showed that 13% of skin cancers occur on the scalp.” So, how to choose the right sunscreen for your scalp? Dr. Garshick says that when it comes to shopping for the best scalp sunscreens, you should look for a formula that provides broad-spectrum sun coverage against UVA and UVB rays with an SPF of 30 or higher (as is the case with any type of sunscreen). “As long as enough sunscreen is applied and is SPF 30 or higher, it shouldn't matter if it is a face or a body sunscreen,” she says. “The most important component is just making sure you use sunscreen, so it is best to find one that you like and will use.”

That said, Dr. Garshick does recognize that it might be difficult for someone with hair to apply a cream or lotion sunscreen, so she points out spray sunscreens and powder sunscreens as great options. “For someone who is bald, there is no problem just extending the same sunscreen you're applying to your face directly onto your scalp,” she notes.

Ahead, you’ll find 10 great sunscreens — including a couple of picks that come recommended by Dr. Garshick — that you should be able to use comfortably on your scalp. Scroll on to see them all.

1

The Best Scalp & Hair Sunscreen Mist

This easy-to-apply mist is an excellent (and lovely-smelling) way to protect your hair and scalp. Made by sunscreen experts COOLA, this lightweight spray has an SPF of 30, is water resistant for up to 80 minutes, and is made with plant-derived antioxidants to offer even more protective benefits for your hair and scalp. The icing on the cake is its refreshing, ocean-water-and-sage scent.

User review: “This product does [its] job and protects my scalp from sunburn. With my thin hair, I use it pretty much every day. Light, refreshing, and smells great, too. Not an overpowering scent at all; smells like I'm at the beach (wish I could be)!”

2

The Best Powder Sunscreen For Your Scalp

Dr. Garshick recommends Supergoop! Poof 100% Mineral Part Powder for a grease-free way to keep your scalp protected from the sun. “[It] goes on feeling like a dry shampoo but actually provides mineral, zinc-oxide SPF 35 coverage and is designed specifically with the scalp in mind. It is both easy to apply and reapply. It should be used as the last step of your hair routine and can be sprayed from 1 [to] 2 inches away and then blended in with your fingertips or brush.”

3

The Best Brush-On Powder Sunscreen

If you prefer a powder sunscreen that you can brush onto your scalp, pick up Colorescience’s Total Protection Sheer Matte SPF 30 Sunscreen Brush. “This powder is great not just for reapplication on the face and body, but can also be easily applied to the scalp as it goes on as a lightweight powder and offers SPF 50 coverage,” Dr. Garshick says. “It is available in different shades and is a great option for those with both sensitive or acne-prone skin.”

User review: “I originally bought this to put on my hair part so I wouldn't burn my scalp or end up with greasy hair. It worked well for that! I also liked it on my face, ears, neck, and decolletage, and it provided some light color. I later discovered that my kids preferred to be ‘painted’ with the powder sunscreen on their faces and ears rather than a stick or lotion sunscreen. I usually used a cheaper powder on them, but this worked well too.”

4

The Best Sunscreen For Your Scalp, Face, & Hairline

This clear gel sunscreen from Cremo is designed for use on your face, hairline, and scalp — and at just $10, it’s a pretty great deal. The odorless formula won’t make your hair greasy or knotted, and once it absorbs, it feels dry, so you won’t even notice it’s there. This is an SPF 30 chemical sunscreen with 40 minutes of water resistance, so you can trust that it won’t leave behind a cast, unlike its mineral-sunscreen counterparts.

User review: “I really liked that this wasn’t greasy at all. That was the one thing that would’ve been a deal breaker for me but I’m glad my scalp stayed dry and protected!”

5

Best Scalp Sunscreen & Leave-In Conditioner In One

Here’s a unique product: It’s a scalp sunscreen and leave-in conditioner — so it’s an amazing choice for people with dry hair or scalps. SPF 30 and antioxidants like green tea and vitamin E offer sun and environmental protection, while aloe vera, cocoa butter, hydrolyzed silk, and sunflower seed oil help infuse hair with moisture and shine. Also a great choice for color-treated hair.

User review: “Only scalp sunscreen I have found [that] works! Leave my hair soft after the pool! Great product! Just dab on the hair part line then brush thru throw into a ponytail.. perfect!”

6

Best For Shaved & Bald Heads

Okay, technically any sunscreen can be used on a bald or shaved head; but this was designed specifically for that purpose, and it’s really cheap — so why not give it a try? In addition to providing SPF 30 protection, this sunscreen also helps mattify shine and prevent the buildup of oil, which is another feature that makes this great for bald heads.

User review: “My husband lost his hair recently due to chemotherapy. I bought this in the hopes it would help and protect it from the sun. It is very smooth to put on, non-greasy, and has helped moisturize his scalp. He uses it daily. Great product.”

7

Best Korean Sunscreen

If you’re looking for a traditional sunscreen to use on your scalp, rather than a sunscreen that was formulated specifically for your scalp, you’ll want to pick one with a light, non-oily feel — such is the case with the cult-classic Sunprise Mild Airy Finish sunscreen from Korean beauty brand Etude House. Its famous for its dry, or “airy” feel — hence its name — which is why it’s such a favorite among people with oily skin. So, you can probably trust that this won’t leave your scalp feeling sticky or greasy, since it doesn’t do that to your face. That said, in addition to its mineral sunscreen filters, it does contain hydrating ingredients like centella asiatica, aloe vera, and hyaluronic acid, as well as other good-for-skin botanicals like acerola cherry and açaí berry.

User review: “I LOVE this sunscreen. It absorbs right into my skin, and doesn’t leave any white residue or any greasy sheen. It layers under make-up perfectly, and it’s strong enough that I used it on vacation in Fiji without any other sunscreen and didn’t burn once. And it’s a great value on top of that!”

8

Best Japanese Sunscreen

Here’s another great face/body sunscreen that would be nice on your scalp, because of its invisible, water-gel formula. From Biore Japan, this cult-y sunscreen feels like a light, refreshing lotion and blends into skin of all tones invisibly. Like the Etude House sunscreen above, this has a high SPF of 50, so it’s a great option for anyone who burns easily.

User review: “I hate sunscreen. Hate wearing it, hate the cast it leaves and the greasiness that seems to come no matter what kind I’ve used. And then I discovered this stuff. It’s magical. Super light weight, absorbs quickly, and I wouldn’t know I was wearing it. I use it [on] my face and body and my five year old. Both of us have super sensitive skin and haven’t had so much as a clogged pore. If you struggle to wear sunscreen daily, this makes it way easier.”

9

Best Sunscreen Stick

Another good sunscreen option for scalps is a stick sunscreen, since you can easily glide it down your hairline without worrying about it running into your hair. Though *technically* formulated for kids, anyone can use this clear zinc sunscreen from Badger; even adults will appreciate its yummy, tangerine-and-vanilla scent (which is totally naturally derived, by the way). The $10 mineral sunscreen stick is formulated with just a handful of ingredients — most of which are certified organic — including non-nano zinc oxide for SPF 35 protection, and skin-nourishers like olive oil, cocoa butter, shea butter, and vitamin E.

User review: “Easy to use for kids and spreads nicely. We were able to effectively avoid getting sunburnt at the beach and bought a bunch more for next year. It is hard to find an effective product that is natural and this was great.”

10

The Actual Best Way To Protect Your Scalp

Sunscreen is great, and vital, sure — but to really prevent your scalp from becoming burnt, a sun hat is the most effective option. This one from FURTALK is a particular fan-favorite, and it also comes at a great price. It’s stylish and versatile, designed with a lanyard to prevent it from blowing away in the wind, and offers UPF 50 protection to keep your head (and face) protected from the sun. Pair this with one of the sunscreens featured above to ensure your scalp remains completely protected on sunny days.

  • Available colors: 7

User review: “I get so many compliments on this hat. It is a very adorable hat. Easily folds up and always springs back into shape. It's lightweight and I haven't had any problems with sunburn on my face or scalp when I'm wearing it. It's breathable too; I don't feel like I'm about to melt into a puddle with this hat on.”

Expert:

Dr. Marisa Garshick, M.D., F.A.A.D., a board-certified dermatologist based in New York City.