Caring for a bald or balding head may seem like an easy, low-maintenance task, but it actually requires a bit of work. Whether on the face or body, taking care of your skin is important to your overall health.

Want to learn how to care for a bald head, how scalp skin differs from the rest, and where sunscreen comes into play? New York City-based board-certified Dermatologist Rachel Maiman, MD, explains what to consider when you have a bald head and how to make sure it stays moisturized and healthy. See what she had to say below.

How Scalp Skin Is Different

The first thing to keep in mind when caring for a bald or balding head is that the skin on your scalp differs from the skin on your face. Dr. Maiman says that although the structure of the skin on your scalp is largely the same as the skin on your face, there are a few key differences. First, scalp skin is thicker. Second, it contains more oil glands and hair follicles than any other part of your body. Because of this, scalps are more susceptible to skin disorders. Some of these skin concerns include:

  • Dandruff
  • Sunburn
  • Razor burn
  • Breakouts
  • Allergens

To help prevent those skin concerns from making you uncomfortable, you'll have to be especially careful with the products you use on it. For everyone—young, old, men, women, dark-skinned, light-skinned, or anywhere in between—curating a gentle and moisturizing skin routine for a bald or balding head is key.

Keep Your Head Moisturized

When exploring how to care for a bald head, it's important to remember that hairless heads are notably more susceptible to dry skin. So, you'll want to wash with a cleanser that is both moisturizing and gentle. Dr. Maiman says you should avoid any harsh soaps and detergents, and you should forgo scrubbing because excessive physical exfoliation can impair the skin barrier's health and cause dryness.

If you prefer a streamlined regimen, she says you can use the same cleanser that you use to wash your face or body as long as it's a high-quality gentle formula. If your hair is thinning and prone to dandruff, she recommends looking for an over-the-counter dandruff shampoo that contains active ingredients like selenium sulfide to help treat it.

If you shave your head, opt for a moisturizing oil after showering. This will help keep skin hydrated before and after a shave. "When the skin is moisturized, it has more flexibility, so the blade glides across more smoothly and the risk of microscopic injury is reduced," she says. "Another option is to use a thick shaving cream and avoid [foaming gels as] they have no moisturizing properties and the chemicals that help create the foam can strip the skin of natural protective oils."

Apply Sunscreen Daily

Dr. Maiman says that skin cancers are extremely common on the scalp due to frequent sun exposure, so it's imperative that you remember to apply sunscreen there. She advises rubbing it all over your bare scalp. Although she recommends looking for a mineral sunscreen (as its ingredients will potentially be less irritating than chemical ones), as long as you use a product that contains at least SPF 30—like the EltaMD UV Sheer Broad-Spectrum SPF 50+—you'll be set. This product is especially popular for its light formula that goes on easily over small amounts of hair without that thick, caked-on feeling. If you're the active type that likes to break a sweat, consider looking for a water-resistant option (yet another reason why UV Sheer is preferred). Reapply every few hours you're outdoors and if you're prone to excessive perspiration or will be submerged, reapply sunscreen according to your water-resistant formula's instructions.

How to Properly Apply Sunscreen to Your Scalp

Bald is beautiful, and caring for your scalp is all about finding the right products. If you remember to incorporate a gentle cleanser, moisturizing oil, and sunscreen to your shaved, bald, or balding head, it will stay in tip-top shape.


  • Audrey Noble

    Audrey Noble is a New York City-based reporter specializing in features, celebrity profiles, and beauty topics. Her work has appeared in Vogue, Harper's BAZAAR, Allure, Vanity Fair, Refinery29, and more. She is a University of Southern California alumna with bachelor's degrees in print journalism and creative writing.

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