In Australia we have become accustomed to thinking about sun protection when we step out into our blistering hot summer sun. While we have gotten better and better at thinking about our skin, putting on sunscreen or sunglasses before leaving the house, many still leave off the hat. It doesn’t suit them or it doesn’t go with their outfit, but this is a mistake. Head, scalp and hair protection is a must for anyone who wants to protect themselves from the dangers of the Australian sun. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to make sure that the top of your head is well protected from UV rays when stepping outside.
Why is head, scalp and hair sun protection so important?
When exposed, the top of your head is in the most direct sunlight of your entire body, particularly during the most dangerous times of day for UV exposure, which is between 10am and 3pm. This means that if any part of your scalp is exposed it is being bombarded with the full strength of the sun every time you step outside if you are not taking the proper precautions.
This is important to understand because research shows that melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, is most dangerous when it occurs on the top of the head. Melanoma of the scalp is dangerous for two reasons:
- It is often hard to detect. Melanoma of the scalp is hard to identify because it is frequently covered by hair. This means that it often has more time to develop and is sometimes identified at a later, more dangerous phase. Remind your doctor to check your scalp.
- The head has a high density of blood vessels and lymph nodes. Melanoma is an aggressive form of cancer which can spread through blood vessels and lymph nodes to other parts of the body like the brain or other organs. The density of blood vessels and lymph nodes on the head make this more likely with scalp cancer.
If that is not enough to convince you of the importance of protecting your head, the sun also affects the health and aesthetics of your hair. The sun breaks down the proteins in your hair making it stiff and brittle, and also degrades your hair pigmentation causing discoloration and fading.
What can you do to ensure your hair and scalp is properly protected from the sun?
The good news is that protecting your head from the sun can be simple. Here are three easy ways to ensure that your scalp is protected:
- Wear a hat. Wearing a hat is the simplest, most sure-fire way to ensure that the sun can’t reach down to your scalp. Making it a wide brimmed hat can be even better as it will also offer protection to your face and ears.
- Tie up your hair. For people with longer hair tying it up can cover the exposed bits of the scalp, just keep in mind that this might expose your neck or ears which need protection too.
- Use SPF products. There are plenty of SPF products you can use to protect your hair and scalp, including sunscreen and non-greasy powders.