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How to Care for a Sunburned Scalp The Right Way

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Seeing as I am a pale girl with absolutely no ability to tan, you’ll never catch me near a beach or by the pool without my SPF 75 sunscreen. Even though I'm big on protecting my skin from the damaging effects of the sun, there’s one spot I often neglect to protect: my scalp. I’ve suffered from a sunburned scalp more times than I can count, and let me tell you: the flaky, dry patches that pop up a few days post-burn aren’t fun (and put a huge damper on my overall hair care routine). While there are plenty of things you can do to prevent a sunburned scalp from happening in the first place, those tips are a little too late if you’re already dealing with an achy scalp.

Suffering from a sunburned scalp? We’ve got you covered. Read on for tips, tricks, and products you can utilize in your summer routine to care for a sunburned scalp and prevent any future mishaps.


Soothe your scalp.

While you might be looking forward to that long, hot shower after a day at the beach, scorching hot shower water may cause your sunburn to hurt. That being said, chances are good that you don't want to take a cold shower—and that’s okay! Simply keep your water cool or lukewarm while you rinse your scalp to avoid any excess heat irritating your sunburn. Once you’re done, you can turn the temperature up a few degrees.

Along with avoiding hot water, you should also apply cold compresses to soothe your scalp and ease any discomfort. Saturate a washcloth in cool water, and gently press it against your scalp for five minutes. You can also use products formulated with soothing ingredients like aloe vera to calm your sunburn. We recommend Biolage Hydrasource Deep Treatment Pack Multi-Use Hair Mask. Formulated with aloe and spirulina, this hair mask infuses extremely dry hair with moisture and nourishment.


Hydrate.

Just like the skin on the rest of your body, your scalp will likely peel and flake as your sunburn begins to heal. If you’re dealing with a sunburned scalp, we recommend adding a few moisturizing products to your hair care routine. Beginning in the shower, swap your shampoo and conditioner for a hydrating system like Pureology Hydrate Shampoo and Conditioner. This system deeply hydrates dry, color-treated hair while the brand’s exclusive AntiFade Complex protects color vibrancy and UV protection.

You should also pick up a scalp moisturizer like Mizani Scalp Care Calming Lotion. Formulated with menthol, eucalyptus oil, aloe, and avocado oil, the product nourishes and soothes to help maintain scalp comfort.

Photo Credit: @danielacanny.

Wear a hat.

If you forgot to pack a hat in your beach bag, you likely ended up with a scorched scalp—but that doesn’t mean you can’t protect it from further damage. The best option is to spend some time in the shade while your sunburn heals. If you’re planning on spending any time in the sun with a burnt scalp, however, it’s essential to wear a hat at all times. Opt for a sun hat with a solid material that offers full coverage of your scalp, forehead, and neck. Not into sun hats? Choose a hair accessory like a hair scarf instead.


Skip the hot tools.

The only thing worse than stepping out into direct sunlight after a scalp sunburn? Blasting your mane with hot air from a blow dryer. While your scalp is healing and shedding dead skin cells, direct heat from hot tools will only irritate and inflame your scalp. Try air drying your mane until your scalp looks and feels as good as new. Not using hot tools doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice style, however. Use an air dry product like Pureology Hydrate Air Dry Cream to keep your mane in tip-top shape. This heat and hassle-free styler controls, enhances body, and perfects texture while keeping hair soft and hydrated. Featuring the exclusive AntiFade Complex, this product also protects color vibrancy and provides UV protection.

Use post-sun products.

No matter how meticulous you are with SPF, sunburns happen—and one of the best ways to deal with it is to treat your mane to products that are formulated to nourish and repair sun damage. That’s why we recommend investing in a hair care line like Kérastase’s Soliel.

If your scalp and hair had a little too much sun, start your routine with Kérastase Bain Apres Soleil Shampoo. This nourishing after-sun shampoo provides sun protection, removes residue left behind from chlorine, salt, and sand while nourishing an illuminating hair.

While scalp sunburn isn’t fun, these tips, tricks, and products can help reinvigorate your scalp in no time.

Interested in more hair care products for your specific hair type and concerns? Shop now at Hair.com.

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