This article originally appeared in the August 17, 2020 edition of *Insider*
Written by Erin Mayer, Photography by Supergoop
Supergoop! Poof Powder keeps my scalp protected from burns on long days in the sun. You can tell from the before (left) and after (right) that it’s not entirely invisible, but it blends in well enough to my dark hair.
- As many as 18% of skin cancer lesions and moles are discovered on the scalp, but many people skip this area when applying sunscreen.
- Supergoop! Poof Powder SPF 40 is a powdered scalp sunscreen that applies just like a dry shampoo.
- Those with dark hair and deeper skin tones might experience a bit of a grey cast, but if you don’t want to wear a hat every time you go outside, it’s still an effective and easy way to protect your scalp.
- If your hair isn’t super dark, it should blend in seamlessly.
- This article was medically reviewed by Sharleen St. Surin-Lord, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at Visage Dermatology and assistant professor of dermatology at Howard University.
As a religious daily sunscreen-wearer since the age 15 or so, I believed I was doing my part to prevent my skin from suffering long-term damage and, worse, cancer. Sure, sometimes I get a light burn on my shoulders or chest after a long day at the beach, but nothing extreme. I thought I had all the necessary body parts, *ahem* covered until I read that a whopping 2% to 18% of cancerous moles are found on the scalp.
How, exactly, is one supposed to put SPF on the narrow areas of exposed skin on the top of most of our heads? I had visions of smearing white goop in my hair or never leaving home without a hat. But in my research, I came across what sounded like a miracle solution: Supergoop! Poof 100% Mineral Part and Scalp Powder SPF 45.
Yep, this is a powdered SPF designed to go on the scalp for sun protection without the wide-brimmed beach hat. It’s suitable for all hair types (for the record, I’ve got type 3A curls that are very dark brown in color) and, in addition to mineral SPF, the ingredients include oil-absorbing silica and the antioxidant vitamin C.
How it works
The bottle has a long nozzle that concentrates product so you don’t get white powder all over your hair. Hold it an inch or two away from the hairline, dispense the powder along any exposed skin, and use your fingertips to blend until you no longer look like you’re having a severe dandruff outbreak. I did a poor job of following directions the first time I tried this and ended up with so much powder that my roots looked grey all day. My hair is very dark, so it did take some finessing to get the powder fully absorbed, and one pump dumps a lot of product if you’re not careful.
That said, I certainly felt safer sailing under the hot sun with this stuff on my head (I was on vacation during the bulk of my testing period). I’ve never gotten a bad sunburn on my scalp, but often, after spending all day in the sun, the exposed area does feel a bit tender. After two weeks of using Poof, my head was as pale and non-irritated as ever. As an added bonus was that it acted as a dry shampoo of sorts and de-greased my hair — which is essential when you’re on a two-weeks-by-a-lake showering schedule.
What the experts say
Sunscreen is no joke, so I wanted to get an expert’s take on whether Poof Powder was a safe and effective option for scalp protection. “This is a great idea for those lacking hair on the scalp and [anyone who] won’t wear hats!” says Dr. Marie Hayag, a board-certified dermatologist on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. She especially appreciates the high concentration of zinc oxide in the ingredients and the inclusion of iron oxides which protect against blue light.
In general, she approves of the use of mineral sunscreen, which has several benefits. “Your skin is protected from the sun as soon as it’s applied (no need to wait before heading outdoors), [it’s] less likely to irritate sensitive skin, and [it’s] better for those prone to heat-activated skin conditions such as rosacea,” she says, noting that the powder also has a longer shelf life.
Cons to consider
There are downsides, of course. The powder comes out very quickly, so it’s easy to apply too much, and it leaves a white cast on darker hair colors that can be difficult to blend. Powder SPF can also be tricky due to user error. Per Dr. Hayag, “Powder SPF can also be less effective because it is often applied ineffectively. You need a thick, even amount of powder to block UV rays.” In short, you have to make sure you’re applying enough, which can make the blending even more difficult. Despite that, I still found it worth the work.
The bottom line
This is a real game-changer for hat-haters like myself who also don’t want to scorch their delicate scalps. There are similar products like the Colorescience Sunforgettable Total Protection Brush-On Shield for use on the face, but this is the first I’ve seen for hair.
This is a must-have for vacations, beach days, outdoor concerts — basically any time I’ll be spending significant time outside with no guarantee of accessible shade. That said, I doubt I will be using this every single day due to the grey-ish tinge it leaves on my roots.