As people head off for their summer holidays, hopefully armed with lots of sunblock to prevent sun damage, I wonder how many will think to protect their scalp from burning? For women this usually means protecting your scalp where you part your hair and for men, thinning or bald spots. I have to confess, it’s something I usually don’t think about.
Here, Anabel Kingsley, daughter of hair guru Philip Kingsley, explains how important it is to protect our scalps and gives us practical advice on how to do it.
There’s nothing Anabel Kingsley doesn’t know about hair health. She’s worked at the Philip Kingsley clinic in London, managed the one in New York and for the past two years she’s been working on new product development. Anabel also has her own monthly columns in Hair Magazine, heads up the Philip Kingsley website and is frequently asked for professional advice and quotes via blogging, social media, judging panels and interviews.
If you, like many, have been spending hours in the summer sun perfecting your tan, reading, going for leisurely strolls along the beach and cat-napping, you are also probably well versed in the art of applying sunblock. I, for one, have different SPFs for different parts of my body; Factor 50 for my face, 35 for my arms & shoulders and 20 for my legs and back. But what about our poor scalps?
I recall a friend telling me how she went hiking in Switzerland, slathered herself from head to toe in sunblock, and got home to find her scalp was very red and sore to the touch. The next morning, it was excruciating to shampoo, and within 4 days, giant flakes had started to work their way down her hair shafts. Lovely! I tut-tutted down the phone, and explained that she was suffering from ‘scorched parting syndrome’. Not a real diagnostic term, but it sums it up pretty well. I asked her to imagine what would happen to her nose if she went into midday sun sans block? Redness, peeling and perhaps blisters. ‘Ah!’ she said, and wondered why she hadn’t connected the dots before. This sensitive part of our body is so often neglected and prone to the same sun associated risks as the rest of us.
Apart from the unsightly aspect of scalp burns, very seriously, accumulative damage and degradation over the years can eventually lead to skin cancer on your scalp. This is especially relevant if you have fine or thinning hair, or are bald, as more of your scalp is exposed. It’s a good idea to get yearly checks, and if you notice any lesions, or marks that were not there before or have changed in appearance, bring it to the attention of your dermatologist. Your trusted, long-term hairdresser can also be quite a useful tool with regards to this, as they will see parts of your scalp that you cannot. Ask them to let you know if they see anything suspect, or notice a difference.
Protecting Your Scalp From Sun Burn & Treating a Scorched Scalp
- Wear a hat, although this can be a bit of a bore when it’s hot and humid. However, if you have already burnt your scalp, a hat is an absolute must. Just as you would wear a longer sleeved t-shirt if you had burnt the skin on your shoulders & upper arms, you should give the same consideration to your scalp!
- Apply your regular sunblock to your parting. I prefer using Philip Kingsley Swimcap Cream. It not only guards your hair from sun, salt and chlorinated water, and associated discolouration and damage, it also gives a super moisturizing treatment at the same time.
- Slick your hair back to avoid the exposure of your parting to the sun.
- To soothe mild burns, apply chamomile or a good after sun product recommended by your pharmacist. For associated flakes, itching and irritation use our Flaky/Itchy Shampoo, Flaky/Itchy Toner and No Scent No Colour Conditioner every day until the symptoms clear.
- For severe burns, please see your doctor promptly, as there is an increased risk of getting a secondary bacterial infection, which may require topical and/or oral antibiotics. This can, at its worst, cause scarring hair loss if not treated.
Here is a link to the Philip Kingsley site: Philip Kingsley