Health

Shield Your Scalp from Skin Cancer – The Most Common Cancer and Its Most Common Spot

Skin cancer has been proven to be the most prevalent of all cancers. What’s even scarier is that the scalp is the most vulnerable and undetected area on the body. Read on and learn how to make your very own hair-sunscreen and protect your scalp from sun damage.

The scorching waves of summer have swept over the country, which means it’s time for some spiked lemonade, warm-weather beach trips and sultry starlit dancing.

Summer marks a time for exuberance; sexy summer style and carefree afternoons of meandering street-side boutiques and Eateries in skimpy shorts and oversized shades. Everything feels perfect: the birds are chirping, the distant echoes of music rumbling, the sun blazing…

Indeed, we have the big, glorious sun to thank for the many zealous spring-breaks and trips to the seaside’s and lakes. We recall our hair lightening under the sun, our skin becoming that perfect buttery bronze. And yet, we never stopped to consider what harm was being conducted. 

We all know that we should wear “SPF” when tanning, and whether we do or we don’t, the presence of “skin cancer” can usually be visual; as seen through sores, uneven moles and unusual “appearances” on the skin.

This is part of the reason that many people who develop forms of skin-cancer rarely “die“, though it ironically is the most prevalent form of all cancers.

Discovering tumors on scalps

When working in a salon, it was not unusual to “catch” things on customer’s scalps; “lesions” that the clients had no idea existed. From growths to tumors; we found a lot of horrible prerequisites that may have saved our customers lives.

After all, a tumor on the scalp is dangerously close to the brain, and worst of all, unable to be seen!

When considering the facts about skin cancer, the dangers become eminent (source skincancer.org):

  • Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. More than 3.5 million skin cancers in over two million people are diagnosed annually.
  • One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of a lifetime.
  • Women ages 39 and under have a higher probability of developing melanoma than any other cancer except breast cancer.

Our sensitive scalps

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Our scalps are naturally sensitive because our hair protects the skin underneath it 24/7. If we consider all of the other places on our bodies, it is clear that the hairiest areas are generally protecting sensitive body parts and skin.

The body, being the smart and efficient machine that it is, grows thick hair on our scalps to keep the head cool and shielded from the blaring UV rays.

The thought of melanoma (a form of cancer) developing under our hair is freaky. To think- we lather up in exotic oils with SPF when we tan, we use foundation and lip balms with protection and we even have tints on our car-windows. Our skin may appear flawless, but in the last place we expect, danger may be brooding…

ModernMom.com: One of Skin Cancer's Hidden Spots:

…To their surprise (the doctors and scientists) the patients with lesions in the scalp and neck died almost twice as fast after diagnosis as those whose tumors started anywhere else on the body.”

Protecting our Scalps 

For the carefree woman-on-the go, the easiest way to protect the scalp is by throwing on a sun-protection hat, which may be physician endorsed. Forget the bad-hair day!

Traditional sun-protection hats have large brims and look classy, high-fashion and timeless. Celebrities and historic icons like Jennifer Lopez, Jackie-O, Kim Kardashian, Audrey Hepburn, Kate Moss and Mary-Kate Olson flaunt these hats on a regular basis.

Physician endorsed hats protect the scalp from harmful UVA and UVB rays. These hats are specifically formulated, tested and approved to yield a UPF of 50 or higher.

“Special sun-protective clothes with UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) indicate how much UV radiation can penetrate the fabric; the higher the UPF, the better… Broad-brimmed hats help shield the sensitive skin on your head, neck, and around the eyes – areas that usually sustain a lot of sun damage.” Skincancer.org

Sites to shop:

HatsRCool – They offer more than 200 fashionable varieties of sun protection hats, many of which are physician endorsed. Hats average from $20-$70, which is very reasonable in comparison to competing stores, and are made from high-quality, certified materials. 

Going Hatless

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Perhaps we are submerging our heads below water, going for a run, or we just don’t want to wear a hat. There are ways to protect our scalp without covering our heads.

Companies are now making special “hair sprays” with SPF, which won’t grease or damage the hair. Generally, these are to be misted on before leaving the house; which is a good idea no matter what the day has in store.

In addition, many “color” protecting shampoos and conditioners contain SPF, as the sun is the most common contributor to color fading, split-ends, orangey “blonde” hair, brittle hair and dry hair.

Even though having SPF added to shampoos and conditioners are an added perk, we still must keep in mind that we wash them out. In order to make sure we are 100% protected, we need to add an extra dose of SPF to our daily hair “regimen.”

Products to try:

  • Aveda Sun Care Protective Hair Veil: Light-weight and water resistant, lasts up to 16 hours. $27
  • Dover Saddlery Healthy Hair Care Sunscreen: Repairs bleached and damaged hair from the sun, natural extracts protect against UVA and UVB rays. Highly moisturizing, comes by the quart. $13
  • Nioxin 4 System 4 Scalp Treatment: Volumizing leave-in conditioner with natural botanicals and SPF 15. $25

Making Hair Sunscreen

Making your own hair sunscreen is an easy, do-it-yourself project that can be customized to your hair-liking!

Sure, purchasing products online can be as simple as clicking “buy now” on websites like Amazon, Sephora and Ulta, but making your own protective hair sunscreen is a sure fire bet to get exactly what you want (and it can be a fun project/DIY gift).

The Essentials:

  • Ÿ  A standard 16 oz spray bottle will do (or you can recycle an old spray bottle, just make sure it’s clean!)
  • SPF 50, water-proof/sweat-proof sunscreen for sensitive skin (this is to make sure that it is light-weight, which will keep your hair from becoming greasy).
  • Bottled or distilled water

Products to try:

  • Fallene Cotz SPF 58 Water Resistant UVB/UVA Sunscreen for Sensitive Skin-  $21
  • Solbar SPF 50 Sunscreen (water-proof, paba free)- $12
  • Neutrogena Pure & Free Liquid Daily Sunscreen, SPF 50- $11

Easy Directions:

Add one tablespoon of sunscreen to your spray bottle. Add water ¾ of the way and violently shake, mixing the water and sunscreen.

Top off with more water to the brim of the bottle; shake again. Spray on wet hair before styling or on dry hair before leaving. Apply often if at the beach or pool.

Added Extras: 

Because you are creating your own hair sunscreen, you can also customize it! Feel free to add a bit of vitamin E, aloe vera, mint oil, lavender, or eucalypts.

To make your spray-on sunscreen smell scrumptious, add some essential oils, body spray or perfume. Keep in mind that many perfumes contain alcohol, which is a drying agent.

You may also opt to create your own SPF leave-in-conditioner. If this is the case, concentrate on adding more moisturizing ingredients, and make sure to only spray it on wet hair, as it will flatten dry hair. Other moisturizing add-ons include skim-milk, pureed avocado and banana. You can also squeeze a bit of hair serum into the mix. 

This summer, don’t be just another statistic. Summer was made for fun and sun, so instead of avoiding it (or ignoring the dangers), be proactive. Make sure that your delicate scalp is shielded from the intense UV rays beating relentlessly down. Don’t sweat it – just throw on a protective hat or hair-sunscreen. Your scalp – and brain – will thank you later on!

About the author

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Alexandra Meehan

Alexandra Meehan is a poet and writer residing in Gainesville, Florida. When she's not writing, she is biking or spending time with her partner Cathrine and their beloved Australian Shepherd, Pekoe.

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