The 7 Best Scalp Sunscreens, Because Yes, You Should Be Using One
All it takes is one beach day sans your sun hat or baseball cap, and suddenly you’re dealing with a bright red scalp. Fast forward a few days and you’re left with flakes in your hair as the sunburn peels. Not. Cute. Been there? Us too. But then we discovered that scalp sunscreen was a thing.
If you’re not already using a scalp sunscreen, you should definitely start, says Dr. Mona Gohara, MD, a dermatologist and associate clinical professor at Yale University. “I always tell my patients, ‘protect your part before you depart.’ It’s corny, but it gets the point across that scalp protection is key,” she adds.
Why is scalp sunscreen so crucial? Because just one severe sunburn on the area can increase your risk of melanoma and other skin cancers. And often, skin cancer on the scalp goes undetected because people forget to look there during their monthly skin checks, says Dr. Gohara.
Thankfully, it’s super easy to incorporate a scalp sunscreen into your skincare routine. Just spritz or dust some on whenever you’re applying SPF to the rest of your body. Here, the seven best scalp sunscreens to choose from.
1. Supergoop! Poof Part Powder SPF 45
Best Powder Scalp Sunscreen
This 100 percent mineral sunscreen comes out as a cloud of powder, hence the “poof” name. In addition to protecting your scalp from the sun’s harmful rays, this formula also contains silica to absorb excess oils, making it a dry shampoo of sorts. One thing to note? It can appear white when you first spray it on, so be sure to blend it in with your fingertips or a brush. And some reviewers note that it leaves a grayish cast in darker hair, so it's best for blondes.
2. Sun Bum Sunscreen Scalp Spray SPF 30
Best Spray Scalp Sunscreen
Looking for a scalp sunscreen that requires a little less effort? Sun Bum’s Sunscreen Scalp Spray should do the trick. Simply spritz this quick-drying SPF onto your scalp and rub it in with your fingers. Don’t worry about getting some in your hair—this mist is super lightweight so it won’t leave your strands feeling sticky or greasy. According to one reviewer, it’s great for your easy-to-burn hairline too.
3. Banana Boat Hair & Scalp Defense SPF 30
Best Drugstore Scalp Sunscreen
We’ve been using Banana Boat sunscreen for years, so we totally trust this scalp iteration. It’s water resistant for up to 80 minutes and is reef friendly since it doesn’t contain oxybenzone or octinoxate, which makes it a total winner in our book.
4. Coola Scalp & Hair Mist Organic Sunscreen SPF 30
Best For Scalp and Hair
This scalp sunscreen actually nourishes your hair as it protects your delicate skin. Coola’s Scalp & Hair Mist contains monoi oil and panthenol, a moisturizing agent from vitamin B5, to lock in hair color, moisturize, increase shine and prevent breakage. So go ahead, spritz it over your entire scalp and locks if you want.
5. Brush On Block Mineral Sunscreen Powder SPF 30
Best Brush-On Scalp Sunscreen
OK, so technically this isn’t labeled as a scalp sunscreen, but given all the reviews claiming that it’s great for part protection, we had to include it. Brush On Block’s translucent Mineral Sunscreen Powder dispenses easily through the brush for light coverage that’s almost undetectable. And the portable design makes it ideal for throwing in your pool bag.
6. Soleil Toujours Organic Extrème Face + Scalp Sunscreen Mist SPF 50 Sport
Best for Exercise
As the sport label suggests, this face and scalp sunscreen is made to stay put whether you’re going for a run or swimming laps. It’s water- and sweat-resistant for up to 80 minutes, so you’ll remain protected throughout your workout. Plus, we love that it can be used on both the face and scalp so we don’t have to add an extra step to our workout prep.
7. Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protection Spray Broad Spectrum SPF 50+
Best for Skincare Minimalists
Prefer to keep your skincare routine as bare bones as possible? We hear you. This Shiseido formula is so lightweight and residue-free, it can be used on the face, body and scalp without issue. In other words, you can forgo three different types of SPF for this one convenient bottle.