When it comes to sun protection, we know that it’s critical to apply sunscreen over our entire bodies, but do you count your hair and scalp in that? I didn’t. Even as a diligent sunscreen user, I would apply sunscreen up to my forehead and never even consider my hair or scalp, because, well, they’re my hair and scalp.

Spoiler alert: Skipping out on that sun protection is onebig beauty faux pas. Read on to find out why and, of course, how to keep your locks and your scalp from sunburn.

Why You Need to Protect Your Hair:

You might be thinking, “Do I really need to protect my hair?” Well, while you might not want to add another step to your routine, the answer is yes. Ron Williams, Education Director at Phyto Specific, explained to me that hair is considered a non-living entity when it emerges through the scalp, which is why it doesn’t burn like our skin. We may not experience those horrible sunburn symptoms on our manes, but our hair can still become damaged. If we skip sun protection, the result could be a dry, dull, and brittle mane. The damage will only worsen if you’re taking a dip in the pool or ocean because of the drying effects of chlorine and salt.

The sun can also change your dye job—and not for the better. Celebrity hairstylist Sarah Potempa told me that bleached or lifted hair is more susceptible to damage because the process opens up the hair follicle, making hair more vulnerable to oxidizing damage (read: fading) from UV exposure.

How to Protect It: 

Ideally, we should be protecting our manes on a daily basis. Before you go slapping sunscreen onto your strands, hold up. There are other less greasy ways to keep your locks protected. Our first line of defense against the sun is wearing a hat. Choose one that covers all of your hair, or tuck longer locks underneath it.

In terms of products, look for different formulas with UVA and UVB protection. Dr. Anthony Rossi MD, FAAD, suggests the Colorescience SunForgettable Mineral Sunscreen Brush SPF 30 ($57, colorscience.com). It is a water-resistant powder that has titanium dioxide and zinc oxide to protect against harmful rays. Dust it on your hair, then on your face.

Moisturizing your hair is another essential step. Stock up on oils, masks, conditioners, and treatments. Celebrity hairstylist Clariss Rubenstein says, “I double down in the summer, using lots of oils. I love argan oils. I also use tons of masks. I love Christophe Robin and Kerastase.”

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