There aren’t many sports where players are expected to run around for pretty much the entire day under the full glare of the sun, but tennis – whether that’s a sun-kissed Roland Garros tournament, the US Open or Wimbledon – is a clear exception to the rule.
And for anyone with a sensitive scalp or a hair loss condition, playing in a heatwave like the one the UK is experiencing this week is a nightmare.
Hair loss exposes scalp
While sunburn itself doesn’t lead to hair loss, having an existing hair loss condition such as Male Pattern Baldness can expose a significant amount of scalp to the sun’s rays. In the same way you can still get sunburnt through the clouds, thinning hair offers less sun protection to the scalp so, even though there is still hair there, more of the damaging rays that cause sunburn are able to penetrate through to the scalp.
Unlike golfers, who also spend large chunks of the day under the sun during professional tournaments, tennis players have rarely resorted to wearing a cap to keep the sun’s punishing rays off the top of their heads during a match. Whilst Wimbledon’s dress code for players is notoriously strict, caps are permissible as long as they are completely white.
As a number of women players do wear caps or visors – which can help to secure a pony-tail – men, it must be assumed, generally resort to copious amounts of sun-cream. That said, at this year’s Wimbledon, players like Britain’s Andy Murray and Liam Broady – perhaps influenced by his sister Naomi who is also playing in the prestigious tournament – seem to bringing the on-court cap trend back. Them and the ball boys and girls, of course.
Headbands won’t help much
Towelling headbands are another top tennis favourite when it comes to headgear and keeping both hair and sweat out of a player’s eyes. World number two seed, Roger Federer is rarely pictured playing without a sponsored sweatband strapped across his hairline.
Whilst this is a fairly effective way to protect a receding hairline from the sun, it doesn’t offer any respite for the rest of the head. Following reports that he has been showing signs of hair loss, Rafael Nadal may want to consider switching his headband for a cap in future games – advice that spectators and staff at the annual tournament may want to follow too as they sit in the sun’s glare for hours.
The world watching
With the world’s TV cameras trained on them, however, no professional player (or their sponsors) wants blobs of white goo being visible on their thinning crowns, which makes a clear, spray-on sun-screen a smarter option. A broad-spectrum sun cream or lotion which protects against both UVB and UVA rays is likely to be the most effective, and a formula that is non-comedogenic (it doesn’t clog pores/hair follicles) is also preferable. Hair care and styling products, such as conditioning sprays, with SPF-combined formulas can be a good option here.
Surprisingly, some men find that a sunburnt scalp due to (unknowingly) thinning hair can be the first clue that they are losing their hair. That and seeing balding spots when they’re tagged in photos on social media.
As hair thins out due to the miniaturisation process involved in Male Pattern Baldness, the natural protection that the hair affords the head is diminished. Other clues can include excessive hairs on the pillow or in the shower, or the fact that your father, his father and your elder brothers are all thin on top! Being an hereditary condition, this type of hairloss is much more likely to be prevalent within families with recent research suggesting it is most likely to be passed on through your father’s genes.
It is possible to try and restore your hair’s natural thickness by following a bespoke hair loss treatment plan designed to prevent further shedding and regrow your hair. However, as regrowth results from treatment can take three to four months to start to become noticeable, following our advice regarding sun protection in the meantime is a must for anyone experiencing thinning or receding.
The Belgravia Centre
The Belgravia Centre is the leader in hair loss treatment in the UK, with two clinics based in Central London. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the UK or the rest of the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which are the largest collection of such success stories in the world and demonstrate the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time for our hair loss helpline or to arrange a free consultation.