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How Redheads Should Deal with a Scalp Sunburn

Updated: May 3, 2019

Does this story sound familiar? You slathered on sunscreen all day only to find out hours later you got a scalp sunburn (ouch!). Most of us redheads can relate. Your scalp is important to protect, because, hey, it’s skin too. Plus, every redhead wants their red hair looking fabulous all summer long. Don’t worry, you can keep your scalp free-and-clear of sunburns without getting your red hair greasy and oily due to sunscreen. Though it’s a little harder to deal with sunburns on your scalp, we spoke with a few skin (and hair) experts to provide you with this guide.


1. Dr. Kent, a board-certified dermatologist and fellowship-trained Dermatologic Surgeon at Miami Dermatology, says, “Redheads always need to wear SPF which prevents UVA and UVB rays, and avoid the sun during the prime hours of 10:00 am and 3:00 pm.”

2. Wearing hats & hair scarves are important, but we recommend going a step further. Wear hats and fabrics with SPF protection IN the fabric. Some of the UPF fabrics have SPF +100 so they’re very effective in blocking the sun.

READ: Sun Protection 101 for Redheads From a 6-Time Melanoma Survivor

Non-Greasy Hair Sunscreen

1. Aveda’s Sun Care Protective Hair Veil is a great ‘redhead friendly’ option if you’re looking for a water-resistant UV defense mist to carry in your beach bag or purse all summer long.

2. “There are companies that make specific products for the scalp that are not greasy. Clarins Sunscreen Care Oil Spray SPF 30 for Skin & Hair is a dry oil so it doesn’t make your hair greasy. And, Shiseido’s Refreshing Sun Protection Spray for Body & Hair Broad Spectrum SPF 16 is another great option,” explained Dr. Jaliman, a board-certified dermatologist.

READ: Why Higher SPF’s Are Not Always Better

Clarins Sunscreen Care Oil Spray SPF 30 for Skin & Hair

3. Bare Republic has a great eco-friendly organic UV hair care line. We love their Eco-Active Hair Care UV Protecting Detangler. It’s a 5-in-1 mist providing UV protection, instant hair-detangling, frizz control, lasting shine and condition to your red locks.

Credit: Bare Republic 

4. Looking for an affordable sunscreen scalp spray that won’t break the bank? Turn to Banana Boat’s Sport Quik Dri Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Scalp Spray. It’s lightweight and hypoallergenic.

How To Apply Sunscreen To The Scalp:

Beginning on one side of your head, part your red hair from the front of the hairline to the back of the neck. Spray or rub in the sunscreen directly to the scalp. Continue to the next part until you’re on the other side of your head. Fill in any spots you missed. It might be best to wrap your hair into a ballerina bun or use a Redhead Hair Tie or Bobby Pin to create a glamorous look.

Post Burn

So, you’ve already burned. What to do?

1. Dr. Jaliman tells her clients to use a topical aloe vera gel, but make sure that it’s fragrance-free. Or else you can use an over the counter topical hydrocortisone cream to get rid of the redness and inflammation.

2. Daniel Gravel from Daniel Gravel Salon in Beverly Hills has a non-traditional method of healing a burning scalp. “This might sound a little weird, but it works! Apply dijon mustard to the burn and keep it on until you feel the scalp beginning to cool. Then, shampoo with moisture shampoo. After your shower, treat the scalp with coconut oil and sleep overnight. Rinse and repeat if needed.”

READ: The 10 Best Sunscreen Picks for 2017

3. “Once the scalp is already burnt, use a cool compress, gentle skin care products and stay extra hydrated,” recommends Dr. Kent.

4. If you’re experiencing an itchy, flaky scalp, try using a product like Living Proof’s Dry Scalp Treatment. It delivers instant soothing and sustained hydration to the scalp. After cleansing, simply apply the product to your scalp. Do not rinse it out.

Rock it like a Redhead!