Protecting Natural Hair from UV Damage

Protect Your Hair in the Sun Protect Your Hair in the Sun

Summer sunshine makes us all want to get outside and play. We are told to wear hats, sunscreen and protect our skin from UV, but what about our hair and scalp? I have a personal issue with UV, because I am a Black woman who got skin cancer.

beachy deeUV stands for UltraViolet and it represents the damaging, invisible part of the light spectrum that causes skin cancer. If you think Black people can’t get it, think again because I got it. I had a carcinoma cut out of my scalp in May 2019. It was caused by sun damage. Yes, with all my thick, kinky wild hair, it still got me because I did not protect my scalp well enough. And it can get you too.

Back in the 80s and 90s I was a young sun worshipper. Spent hours in the sun, swimming, hiking, riding and doing all kinds of outdoor sports. Sometimes I wore a hat. Mostly I didn’t. Black people don't get burned right? Wrong. Let my experience be a lesson to you. Wear a hat, scarf, anything. But cover when you will be spending more than an hour in the sun between 10 and 2.

UV rays can cause incredible damage to your hair, drying it out, cooking it like a microwave, from the inside out, causing loss of elasticity and breakage. So let’s look at ways you can protect it, in addition to wearing a hat. Wearing a hat is not always easy when you have natural hair because our hair can be BIG. Or you may be swimming or doing some kind of water sport. So if you can’t or won’t wear a hat, there are other ways to prevent sun damage to your hair and scalp.

Did you know you can and should put sunscreen on your scalp? Sunscreen is so cakey and white. It does not rub in and the zinc content makes it hard to get out but I have done some testing. Ladies, I am in Australia while writing this – the skin cancer capital of the world. Anything I test you now will be put through it’s hard paces. So let me make some recommendations for you. I do not get paid for any of my recommendations. I do this because it’s the right thing to do. So let’s get to it. 



supergoop unseenSUPERGOOP UNSEEN SUNSCREEN: This is what I use on my face and hairline on makeup and no-makeup days when it’s important for everything to stay put or I'm going somewhere I will be able to escape the sun for part of the time outside. It’s not my absolute fave but it has a high SPF and it works well. It doesn’t clog my pores or give me that shiny, sticky face. I put in on right after cleansing and wait for it to absorb before putting on makeup or CC cream. It doesn’t cause patches where makeup *sits*, KWIM?  Downside is it’s expensive, so I don’t use it every day.



bananaboat scalpBANANA BOAT SCALP SPRAY: The great thing about this is that it’s easy to apply. The bad thing is that it’s a bit sticky. It’s great to use at the top of your head, when wearing braids or locs and it’s easy to apply. It’s lightly formulated and you only need to use it once in 8 hrs. It definitely stopped my head from getting hot, which is how I know it’s working. It’s great for kids because it’s so quick and easy to apply and doesn’t sting. Run the nozzle under warm water when you get home, to stop it clogging up.



 murad shieldMURAD CITY SKIN AGE DEFENSE 50+: The mother of all sunscreens, this is 50+. It's my number 1 for obvious reasons but it also works well under makeup, on the hairline and dabbed onto my scalp. It doesn't cause any irritation, sting and it blends pretty well considering its coverage. For those days when the sun is truly burning and I expect to be outside. I also use it on the back of my hands, decolletage, neck and anywhere else I need to focus on anti-aging and sun damage. 



palmers eventonePALMER’S COCOA BUTTER EVENTONE SUN CARE: OK if you know me, you already know I am a big Palmer’s fan. I live for their eye cream. This spray is the bomb. You can use it on your parts and on your face and body. It’s not oily and you will not burn if you apply this eventhough it is only SPF30. Take it with you everywhere and use it often. And it smells divine too. Don’t worry about using it on your scalp. It works! Just rub it in. 




hot toddyHOT TODDY HEAT PROTECTANT MIST: This one is for your hair. It will protect your hair from harmful UVs for a few hours only, so you will need to reapply if you intend to be in the sun for more than a few hours. On the positive side, it is a mist, so you get some moisturizing out of it and it also will work on your scalp. It doesn’t offer the highest UV protection so if you are parted up there with a lot of scalp exposure and intend on spending hours in the sun, use one of the other creams or sprays as a backup to protect your scalp and hairline. 



rita hazan sprayLOCK & BLOCK PROTECTIVE SPRAY: By Rita Hazan, this is a quick spray for hair and scalp protection. It is not moisturizing but will block humidity out so if you have a style that doesn’t like humidity, this is the spray for you. Just like other mists, you need to use it often during the day if you will be spending a lot of time outside and reapply if you get your hair wet. I’d put moisturizer on before using this, for that extra bit of defense.




Last modified on Friday, 20 September 2019 05:39
Patricia Gaines

Patricia Gaines aka Deecoily is the founder and creator of Nappturality in 2002, the beginning of the natural hair movement. Since 2000 she has been blogging on all things natural hair, Black culture and politics.

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