Hair Sunscreen: Protect Your Hair from UV Damage
Hot summer days and beach vacations are quickly approaching, which means you’ve probably packed SPF for your body, face, and lips to prevent burning and sun damage. But did you know that the sun’s rays can damage your hair as well?
Excessive sun exposure can damage the structural integrity of the hair strand. Signs of sun-damaged hair include discoloration, dry and brittle strands, thinning, frizziness, and broken or split ends. (Cleveland Clinic)
Ric Pipino, vice president of global creative at Alterna Haircare, explains that “By stepping outside without protection, you’re putting your hair at risk for faded color due to oxidation, lack of moisture, and overall distress.” (TeenVogue)
After reading about all of the harmful effects the sun can have on your hair, you’ll definitely be adding a new item to your vacation packing list: hair sunscreen. Keep scrolling to learn how you can use hair sunscreen to protect your hair from UV damage.
How hair is damaged by the sun
Rays from the sun first hit the outermost layer of the hair shaft called the cuticle. The cuticle covers the cortex (the middle layer of the hair shaft made up of the strong and durable hair protein, keratin) as well as the medulla (the innermost layer of the hair shaft). In healthy hair, the cuticle is closed. However, when factors such as chemicals, mechanical stress, and heat come in contact with the hair, openings are formed in the cuticle. This means that the cortex can become exposed, leading to protein loss and subsequent damage to the hair strand.
The sunlight that reaches our hair consists of two types of harmful rays: long wave ultraviolet A (UVA) and short wave ultraviolet B (UVB). (Coola) Photochemical impairment of the hair is caused by UV rays with wavelengths of 254-400 nm. (Coll Antropol.) These rays deteriorate the cuticle and cause a loss of hair proteins from the cortex as well as degradation of hair pigment. UVB radiation is responsible for hair protein loss and UVA radiation is responsible for color changes. (Coll Antropol.)
The cortex of a hair strand contains melanin, the pigment that gives hair its color. Melanin provides some protection from damaging UV rays because of its ability to combat free radicals as well as absorb and filter UV light. However, when excessive sun exposure breaks open the cuticle, the pigment becomes damaged, leading to changes in the color of the hair. This is most noticeable in people with light hair, who naturally have less melanin. Furthermore, sunlight can fade hair dyes (blonde highlights, for example) and make them look brassy. (Health365)
How to use hair sunscreen
Although hair sunscreens are relatively new to the market, many hair care products are now designed to filter UV rays and protect the cuticle from damage. Products come in many different forms, including shampoos, leave-in conditioners, oils, and even hairsprays with SPF.
Most hair sunscreen products have dual purposes, such as hydrating or conditioning the hair, along with protecting hair from the sun. The key is to look for one that fits your specific needs.
For instance, if you plan on doing a lot of swimming while exposed to the sun, look for a product that is water-resistant as well as protects from UV light. If you’re looking for a hair sunscreen to use on a daily basis, opt for a lightweight leave-in conditioner or spray that won’t interfere with your normal styling routine. Another important factor to consider when choosing a product is to be cautious of sprays that contain alcohol as an ingredient, which can dry the hair.
Adding on another product to your hair care routine might seem overwhelming, especially since hair sunscreens are fairly new and it may be hard to discern which ones are the most effective. Take the stress out of choosing a product by allowing the team of experts at Shtrands to design a hair care regimen that is customized for your hair. Since summer is approaching, now is the perfect time to subscribe to this personalized hair care service in order to get products that protect against the sun and fit your specific needs.
Don’t be mislead – hair sunscreen is different than skin sunscreen
Various websites and blogs suggest simply spritzing regular skin sunscreen onto your hair and calling it “good enough”. However, not only will this most likely leave your hair tangled and greasy, skin sunscreen ingredients are completely different than hair sunscreen.
Sacha Mitic, founder of Sachajuan, elaborates on this point: “With hair, the goal is to protect from bleaching and to prevent moisture loss. The SPF (Sun Protection Factor) that we see in our skin sunscreens is not relevant when it comes to hair, just like the UVQ filter in Sachajuan Hair In The Sun would not protect the skin from sun damage.” (Teen Vogue)
To sum it up
Of course, sun damage to your hair isn’t as serious as damage to your skin. But to keep hair healthy and vibrant in color, it is necessary to protect hair from the harmful effects of UV rays. This is especially important for those with light colored hair since the strands have less melanin and therefore less built in protection. Choose a hair sunscreen in the formulation that best fits your hair care needs, or let one of the professionals at Shtrands choose the perfect product for you!
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