The 8 Best Hair Sunscreens of 2023

Solaire Protective Fluid is a lightweight broad spectrum fluid that protects your scalp and looks after your hair.

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Best Hair Sunscreen

Health / David Hattan

Most people know by now that sunscreen is an essential skincare product no matter your age. And equipping yourself with all the info about proper sun protection is key to preventing skin cancer, uncomfortable burns and sun-related aging. But have you ever considered the need to protect your hair as well?

Looking after yourself in the sun should be a multi-pronged effort. Shade, sunglasses, protective clothing and the right sunscreen should make your day in the sun safer and more comfortable. Elizabeth Houshmand, MD, a fellow at the American Academy of Dermatology, says that hair sunscreen acts like a shield to lock in moisture while preventing harmful UVA and UVB rays from causing damage. 

To top it off, hair SPF protects the scalp from photodamage that can lead to skin cancer, adds Dr. Houshmand. In fact, Joshua Zeichner, MD, says that hair sunscreens really treat the scalp, and not your hair itself. For that reason, it’s important to look for options that can get through your hair easily in order to reach your scalp, he explains. 

To help you find the best hair sunscreen for protecting your specific hair type and scalp, we researched the most popular items available today. Then we narrowed them down based on criteria such as SPF level, ingredients, and application method. Here are our favorite options.

Best Overall

Solaire Protective Summer Fluid

Solaire Protective Summer Fluid

Care To Beauty

Why We Like It: Enriched with sesame extract, it’s a natural sunscreen that doubles down on sun protection for your hair and scalp health.  

It’s Worth Noting: While suited to all hair types, the formula is relatively lightweight and will work best for fine/thin hair.  

This lightweight spray is formulated to simultaneously nourish and protect your scalp and hair at the same time. Dr. Houshmand personally recommends this product because it’s a hardworking product that’s also gentle and nourishing on your strands. Not only is it waterproof but it’s also SPF 50+ and prevents the hair from dehydrating.  

And while it protects your hair from the sun, the fact that it’s water resistant means your hair is also protected from the damaging effects of salt and chlorine. This makes it perfect for anyone who plans to spend time at the beach, specifically those with color-treated tresses. The bottle lists a Keratin Protection Factor (KPF) of 50. Essentially, the spray will work to protect your hair’s keratin levels (a naturally-occurring protein that’s the building block of healthy hair, skin and nails). 

Price at time of publication: $27 

Product Details:

  • Size: 3.4 fl oz
  • Type: Spray 
  • SPF: KPF 50
  • Main Ingredient(s): Ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate, sesame extract to filter UV

Best Budget

Sun Bum Scalp and Hair Mist

Sun Bum Scalp and Hair Mist


Why We Like It: It has a cruelty-free, clean formula for a decent price. 

It’s Worth Noting: This product has lower SPF than some other options on this list. 

The Sun Bum Scalp and Hair Mist has a vegan and clean formula, which means it’s free from oxybenzone, octinoxate, gluten and parabens. The spray protects your scalp and locks with sunflower seed oil and mineral-rich sea kelp and algae. 

The broad-spectrum spray protects you from both UVA and UVB rays and will keep you protected in water for up to 80 minutes. However, a potential downside to this product is that it may feel a little greasy on certain hair types. So if you have oily hair, this may not be the best product for you. However, it’s perfect for anyone with a sensitive scalp as it’s non-irritating and gentle on skin and hair.       

Price at time of publication: $17

Product Details:

  • Size: 2 fl oz
  • Type: Spray
  • SPF: 30
  • Main Ingredient(s): Homosalate

Best Spray

COOLA Scalp & Hair Mist Organic Sunscreen SPF 30

COOLA Scalp & Hair Mist Organic Sunscreen SPF 30


Why We Like It: It has a relatively sustainable formulation, made from 70% organic ingredients. 

It’s Worth Noting: The packaging states that it’s reef-friendly, however, that’s a little misleading statement. 

The Coola Suncare Scalp Organic Sunscreen is another product personally recommended by Dr. Houshmand, which she says is particularly great because of its gluten free and dermatologically-tested formulation. Packed with monoi oil and gotu kola extract, this hair sunscreen will nourish your hair and scalp while keeping them sun-protected. 

If you’re concerned about the environmental impact of your products, then it’s important to know that while this product does win brownie points for being mostly organic. However, it says it’s reef-friendly, which is an unregulated labeling convention and the ingredients include homosalate and octocrylene—both known to harm coral and reef ecosystems. However, if you don’t plan to swim in the ocean with this product in your hair, it’s a fantastic option. 

Price at time of publication: $20

Product Details:

  • Size: 2.0 fl oz
  • Type: Spray 
  • SPF: 30
  • Main Ingredient(s): Avobenzone, homosalate, octisalate, octocrylene

Best Powder

Colorescience Sunforgettable Total Protection Brush-On Shield SPF 50

Colorescience Brush-On Sunscreen Mineral Powder


Why We Like It: It’s perfect for protecting the scalp with SPF 50 and won’t make your hair greasy. 

It’s Worth Noting: This is one of the most expensive products on our list and may not suit everyone’s budget. 

Mineral sunscreens come highly recommended for both their efficacy and dermatologically-friendly formulations. This one, contains a broad spectrum formula which Dr. Zeichner says is key for great hair sunscreen. But, ultimately, making sure you apply the product evenly is just as important as the formula.

This mineral sunscreen powder comes in four color options ranging from fair to deep, so there’s a good chance you’ll find the right color match for you. There are pros and cons to the powder formulation. It’s perfect for looking after your scalp and face and will avoid the problem of potentially causing greasy roots. However, you won’t be able to protect the color and health of your tresses the same way you would with a spray sunscreen. As always, it comes down to your specific needs. If you tend to have greasy hair, this product’s pros may outweigh the cons for you. 

Price at time of publication: $69 

Product Details:

  • Size: 0.2 oz
  • Type: Powder
  • SPF: 50
  • Main Ingredient(s): Titanium dioxide, zinc oxide

Best Stick

Shiseido UV Clear Stick Protector SPF 50

Shiseido Clear Sunscreen Stick SPF 50+


Why We Like It: It comes in a convenient size and it’s less likely to leave a white cast than other sunscreen sticks.  

It’s Worth Noting: It has a relatively high price point for its size which might not work with everybody’s budget. 

While it’s possible to find cheaper dermatologist-approved sunscreen sticks on the market, this one is our favorite stick because of its clear formulation, which makes it better suited to a variety of skin colors. 

This product is noncomedogenic, dermatologist-tested, and features a formula that’s effective in both wet and hot conditions. While this sunscreen is marketed as a face stick, it can easily be applied to your scalp and the top of your hair. Simply throw the rest of your locks in a slicked-back bun. And though the sun protection of this product is strengthened by both heat and water, we recommend reapplying this product as you would any other sunscreen nevertheless. 

Price at time of publication: $30

Product Details:

  • Size: 0.7 fl oz
  • Type: Stick 
  • SPF: 50+
  • Main Ingredient(s): Homosalate

Best for Sensitive Skin

Babo Botanicals Sheer Zinc Sunscreen

Babo Botanicals Sheer Zinc Sunscreen


Why We Like It: It has a gentle formula and is created by a small business.

It’s Worth Noting: This product may leave a slight white cast.

Though we’ve chosen this product specifically for sensitive skin, the gentle formula means that it would work well for the whole family. Enriched with Babo Organic’s Nutri-Soothe complex, which features plant-based calming ingredients like sunflower oil, aloe vera, calendula, watercress, meadowsweet and chamomile extract—all known for their anti-inflammatory properties.  

As it’s water-resistant and fast absorbing, this sunscreen should be sprayed and then rubbed in to your scalp to ensure you’ve cover all exposed areas. Not only does this provide the best protection but it will also remove any white residue that may show up upon drying. 

Price at time of publication: $19

Product Details:

  • Size: 6 fl oz
  • Type: Spray
  • SPF: 30
  • Main Ingredient(s): Zinc oxide

Best for Kids

Blue Lizard Kids SPF 50+ Mineral Sunscreen Spray

Blue Lizard Kids SPF 50+ Mineral Sunscreen Spray


Why We Like It: The chemical-free, mineral formula makes it perfect for all—particularly kids with gentle skin. 

It’s Worth Noting: The consistency of this sunscreen is quite thick, even though it’s a spray formula. 

This sunscreen is a great option for kids particularly because it’s a spray, but also because of its ingredients and mineral formula. Mineral sunscreens are less likely to irritate gentle skin, and Dr. Zeichner recommends using a mineral sunscreen for younger kids’ hair. Mineral sunscreens are physical blockers, meaning that they reflect UV rays whereas chemical sunscreens feature ingredients that absorb UV rays and convert them into heat before releasing from your skin. 

This Blue Lizard sunscreen offers SPF 50+ which means you and your kids can enjoy great sun while you’re out and about. Likewise, it's been formulated with propellants that are gentler on the environment than older aerosol spray technology. 

Price at time of publication: $20 

Product Details:

  • Size: 1 fl oz 
  • Type: Spray
  • SPF: 50+
  • Main Ingredient(s): Zinc Oxide

Best for Dry, Brittle Hair

Rahua Hydration Detangler + UV Barrier

Rahua Hydration Detangler + UV Barrier


Why We Like It: It’s a multitasking, hydrating conditioner that also provides UV protection. 

It’s Worth Noting: This product is better catered to protecting the hair strands themselves. 

We love this detangler and leave-in conditioner because it’s wonderfully nourishing for your hair. It’s perfect if you’re preparing for the summer months in the pool. However, if you’re looking for scalp protection, you will need to invest in an additional sunscreen for that as well. 

Rahua is a brand founded in strong ethical and product quality values. Their plant-based products are free of silicone sulfates, parabens and gluten. Dr. Houshmand recommends this product for dry and color-treated hair types due to its morete oil, which creates a barrier against UV and pomotes photoprotection.

Price at time of publication: $34

Product Details:

  • Size: 6.5 fl oz
  • Type: Lotion / cream 
  • SPF: None listed 
  • Main Ingredient(s): Morete Oil

How We Selected

To select the best hair sunscreens, we researched the top options on the market. We also asked dermatologists which brands they recommend along with their insight on what shoppers should look for when choosing a hair sunscreen, as well as what they should avoid. Additionally, we made sure to include products that suit a variety of skin and hair types. 

The experts we spoke to include: 

  • Elizabeth Houshmand, MD, a fellow at the American Academy of Dermatology
  • Joshua Zeichner, MD, an Associate Professor of Dermatology and Director of Cosmetic & Clinical Research in Dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City
  • Angela J. Lamb, MD, Director of the Westside Mount Sinai Dermatology Faculty Practice and an Associate Professor of Dermatology

Dermatologists also provided insights into options for specific conditions such as sensitive skin and different hair types. We compared picks based on the amount of SPF available, and additional ingredients in their formulations. 

What to Know About Hair Sunscreen


When it comes to hair sunscreen, you can decide between a few formats such as spray, stick and powder. In this category, you’ll see a lot of spray sunscreens as they’re best suited to targeting both your scalp and the lengths of your hair. Dr. Zeichner weighs in here and says, “When buying hair sunscreen, it’s important to understand that you’re actually treating your scalp, not your hair. Look for products that you can easily get through the hair to protect your scalp. Sprays and gels are often preferred for this reason. It’s important to rub them into the scalp with your fingers after applying them to make sure that they are doing the job they are supposed to do. If sunscreen is sitting on the hair, they will not effectively prevent UV light penetration through the skin.” 


The ingredients list of a sunscreen package can be a scary place. Firstly, you will want to decide if you prefer a chemical sunscreen or a physical sunscreen. Chemical sunscreens feature, well, chemicals that absorb UV light, convert them to heat in your body which then expels the heat. Physical sunscreens stay on the surface of the skin and reflect harmful UV rays. Dr. Zeichner says that “your choice between a chemical or mineral sunscreen is a personal decision. Ultimately, the best product is the one you are actually using.” 

If you have sensitive skin, you’ll want to look for formulas that are created as such or listed as non-comedogenic. Likewise, those who are looking for reef-friendly products will want to make sure that their product is listed as such. Additionally, it’s important to know ‘Reef Friendly’ product packaging is unregulated and that it means different things in different areas. Regardless, looking for products that have a clean base and organic majority-organic ingredients is a good place to start.  


Sun Protection Factor (SPF) is key when shopping for sunscreen. The higher the number, the more protected your skin is. On this, all the dermatologists we consulted said to look out for “broad spectrum” on the packaging which protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Dr. Houshmand says to look for “SPF of 30 or higher and water-resistant (protects kids while in the water for 40–80 minutes).”

Your Questions, Answered

Does my hair really need sunscreen?

While hair sunscreen may not seem like the most common health product, there is good reason to add hair sunscreen to your regime. Firstly, it protects the hair itself from drying out and from the color fading. In the long-term, it’ll help you maintain the health of your hair and saves you time, money and effort required to nurture your hair back from the brink. Secondly, and most importantly, hair sunscreen protects your scalp from burning which should be avoided in the same way you avoid any other skin burn. 

Dr. Lamb says that “UV rays can definitely change the color of the hair (makes it lighter) so it is a good idea to protect yourself.” If you’d rather not clog up your bathroom cabinet with another product, Dr. Zeichner says it’s possible to use regular sunscreen on your hair, though it may be a stickier, greasier experience. “You don’t necessarily need to use a specific scalp or hair sunscreen to get good protection. Regular sprays work very well. Make sure to hold the spray an inch from the skin to ensure that the product reaches the scalp and is not blown away in the wind. In younger kids, considered a mineral sunscreen for the hair, just as you would for the body.”

Is hair sunscreen different from regular sunscreen?

The difference between hair sunscreen and regular sunscreen is that “the formulations for hair sunscreen are designed to reflect UV light or absorb it, preventing it from reaching your hair and skin. Unlike the skin formulations which are typically creams and lotions you use on your body, hair sunscreens come in spray and powder formulas that absorb into your hair and scalp easily. It is a difference in formulations and ability for absorption based on site to be used,’ says Dr. Houshmand. Dr. Lamb adds that while most spray sunscreens would work for your hair in terms of sun protection, they don’t have the moisturizers and ingredients that feel nice on your hair. 

How often should I apply hair sunscreen?

All sunscreen is best applied 15 to 20 minutes before sun exposure. This allows enough time for your body to absorb the skin so that you can maximize its effects. While out and out, it’s recommended to reapply every two hours or after swimming and sweating. Whichever comes first.

What can I expect to pay for hair sunscreen?

The cheapest product in this list starts at $18. While it is possible to find cheaper hair sunscreens, we selected the Sun Bum Scalp and Hair Mist because it comes with a considered and clean formula that also benefits the state of your hair. In our research, we noticed that most of the products are sitting at a $20 price point and Dr. Lamb says you can pick up something decent for $10 to $40.

Who We Are

Isabella Ubaldi has 10 years of research and writing experience that includes covering how to shop for the best personal products online. Her curiosity about the world feeds her keen interest in helping people reduce the shopping noise and simply make better decisions. She has a personal interest in skincare and dermatology and, being Australian, has tried her fair share of sunscreens and knows what to look for in a high quality product in that category.

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