With a tremendous heatwave looming over our always-sunny Singapore, the temptation to stay indoors grows stronger. Yet, for outdoor enthusiasts or those who need to be outside for extended periods, exposure to the sun is inevitable.

When exercising or spending time outdoors, the combination of extended sun exposure and improper care can result in unintended consequences such as skin pigmentation and premature ageing of the skin. Since the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays can significantly damage our skin over time, it is important to wear sunscreen every day, even on cloudy days.

Applying sunscreen

Eight Tips on Staying Protected Under Sun Exposure

  • Choose a sunscreen with a minimum Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 30 or higher.
  • Make sure it is water-resistant to withstand sweat.
  • Use a lip balm with a minimum of SPF 30.
  • Apply at least half a teaspoon of sunscreen to your entire face.
  • Apply at least 30 minutes before going outdoors.
  • When engaging in intensive outdoor activities, re-apply sunscreen to your entire body every two hours.
  • Accessorise with a hat that shades your face, neck, and ears.
  • Wear sunglasses with lenses that have 99 per cent to 100 per cent UV absorption to provide optimal protection for the eyes and face.

Apart from taking care of the visible parts of our body, we often overlook the areas that are unseen. Scalp protection, in particular, tends to be neglected, despite being an extension of our face. The scalp shares anatomical similarities with the rest of our skin, albeit with thicker density and oil glands.

Within the scalp, each strand of hair grows from an individual follicle. Each follicle secretes sebum produced by the sebaceous glands, conditioning the hair and scalp. The amount of sebum produced varies in individuals, with some experiencing more or less than others.

The lack of care can lead to conditions that demand our attention: hair loss, irritation, itchiness, and dryness. To prevent these potential pesky problems, we need to create a healthy environment for our scalp and hair to flourish.

Hair loss and thinning

Six Ways to Get a Healthy Scalp

  1. Use gentle, sulfate-free hair products
    Sulfate removes healthy oils and dead skin cells which makes the scalp excessively dry and prone to irritation.
  2. Shampoo gently
    Instead of scrubbing, massage the scalp to increase circulation and reduce abrasion.
  3. Wash less frequently
    Shampooing too often strips the natural oils away, and our scalp might produce more oils to keep it hydrated, resulting in oily-looking hair. It is not recommended to wash your hair more than once a day.
  4. Eat more antioxidants
    Fruits and vegetables are the best sources of antioxidants. With the lack of it, oxidative stress occurs when the number of damaging free radicals in the body overwhelms the number of beneficial antioxidants. Other than resulting in potential health conditions, it is also believed to affect scalp health and hair loss.
  5. Avoid all kinds of heat-styling tools
    High heat damages the scalp and quality of hair significantly.
  6. Use conditioner only from the ends to mid-length of hair
    Conditioners contain a high moisturising quality – using it on your scalp might create excessive oils, and using it on fine hair might make it look limp.

In Singapore, we are lucky to enjoy sunshine all year round. However, as the saying goes – you can have too much of a good thing. Long-term exposure to the sun rays can have unfortunate health effects if we do not pay attention to our skin health. Having a proper skincare routine is all-rounded, including scalp care.

This article was reviewed by Dr Tan Siew Kiang, Specialist in Dermatology & Consultant, Raffles Skin & Aesthetics.