We all know how damaging the sun can be to our skin. We’ve spoken about sun damage here on Man For Himself; and the sun is just as damaging to our hair, as the skin on our head.
Soaking up the sun makes us feel better as it stimulates the production of vitamin D; and although we love it, the UVA and UVB rays can cause a lot of harm to the surface of our skin (sun burn) and go even deeper, leading to skin cancer.
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How does the sun damage your hair?
Each strand of hair contains a protein packed inner core, with an outer layer which is called the cuticle. If your hair is already dry due to dying or daily blow drying, the hair will be more vulnerable to the penetration of UV rays. UV rays damage the hair by breaking and damaging the cuticle. It breaks down the cells and almost causes them to crack, exposing the core.
Once exposed, UV rays weaken the protein core, which effects elasticity and causes the hair to become dull, dehydrated and lifeless.
Damaging the cuticle means the protective barrier to our hair is affected. It can disrupt the production of natural oils and causes blood vessels to dilate. This can in-turn cause the production of superoxide which forces hair follicles into the shedding stage, commonly known as ‘hair loss’.
What are the symptoms of sun damage?
Sun damage on your hair can feel and look quite obvious. Dehydration is probably the most obvious symptom, including the following:
- Dry and brittle ends – the heat from the sun will dry out the hair and cause it to break.
- Discolouration – natural colour can become dull. Dyed hair can become brassy, orange or peroxide blonde.
- Frizziness – hair can become coarse and frizzy due to ‘stress’ from damage.
- Thinning – this occurs if the hair is continually exposed to the sun and there has been serious damage to the hair follicles. It can also be due to hair breakage.
If you burn your scalp, you will notice the redness of the skin and might experience some pain. It might be painful to brush your hair. You will eventually experience a flaky scalp as the skin repairs itself and sheds a layer of skin.
How to protect hair and prevent sun damage.
One of the easiest ways to protect the head in the sunshine is to wear a hat or cap. Direct heat on the head can also lead to sun stroke, so it is always important to protect the head in high heat.
There are, of course, plenty of products you can use to help protect the hair, and improve its health after a day of soaking up the sun.
Protection – On The Go!
- SPF – you can of course use an SPF for the scalp. If you have a full head of hair, push it into the hairline when putting suncream on your face. Just be aware, suncream for the body/face might make your hair greasy. For those of you with thin hair, or no hair, apply a factor of SPF30+ to the skin.
- Pre and post sun spray – there are plenty of sprays out there that are perfect for popping in your beach bag. Look for a spray with a UV filter, like Bumble and bumble’s Hairdresser’s Protective Primer, that will protect the cuticle of the hair and prevent it from becoming damaged. All is takes is a quick spritz over the hair.
Best Products For Sun Protection
Shampoos and Treatments For Sun Care
- Shampoo – it is preferable to use a shampoo that doesn’t contain sulphates or parabens as they tend to strip the hair and cause further dehydration. Use a mild shampoo with nourishing and hydrating extracts, such as chamomile and aloe vera. Aloe vera is also great for sunburn and will soothe a burnt scalp. Don’t shampoo your hair too often, as it will dry your hair out further. You could also try using a clarifying shampoo, once a week, if you have been using sunscreen on the head.
- Conditioner – make sure you use a conditioner that doesn’t contain sulphates or parabens. The tips of the hair are likely to be broken and dry, so ensure the tips are coated with product when conditioning the hair. The main aim is to coat the cuticle of the hair and create a barrier of hydration. Try and use a conditioner with UV protection.
- Treatments – a hair mask is great for bringing some hydration and life back into the hair. This is really for time spent after the sun and it can help fortify the hair. It can be used during a holiday, but also when you return. A good mask will also help maintain the colour of your hair. Masks can be used pre or post shampooing, or left overnight. An overnight balm will provide a deep treatment. Try SachaJuan’s Hair In & After Sun or Bumble and Bumble’s While You Sleep.
Other simple remedies
- Drink plenty of water to keep skin and hair hydrated and healthy.
- Try not to use any heating tools, such as a hair dryer.
- You could try using olive oil as an alternative treatment. Do not use lemon juice, as it can dry your hair out.
- When washing your hair, finish with a blast of cold water to seal the cuticle.