The dangers of UV radiation for skin are well-known, but did you know that it’s as bad for your hair as well? Sun rays destroy proteins in your hairs, damage your scalp, and can contribute to hair loss. It’s essential to protect your locks using both physical and chemical barriers as well as adjust your hair care routine to minimize the damage you cannot prevent.
Why You Need UV Protection for Hair: Based on Science
Did you notice how in the summer your tresses most exposed to sunlight change color? This usually looks pretty good and many girls see it as a boon as they get natural highlights for free. However, the truth is that this happens because exposure to UV rays causes degradation of hair proteins and pigment (Collegium Antropologicum).
The destruction of those proteins (keratins) leads to the deterioration of hair cuticles, which makes your hairs split, brittle, dry, and frizzy. The degradation of melanin (pigment) leads to the loss of protection from free radicals, which are the direct cause of the hair shaft deterioration.
This means that the people with bleached and blonde hair, who have less pigment by default, are at a higher risk of UV damage (Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology). Therefore, they require even more protection and should avoid exposure to sunlight if possible.
As if that damage wasn’t enough, research published in the book Aging Hair proves that UVA and UVB radiation contributes to hair loss, which can be permanent. This occurs because of the damage these rays deal to the scalp.
3 Steps to Effective UV Protection for Hair
1. Maintain a healthy haircare routine
Proper hair care can help you reduce the damage from UV rays. It’s especially important for blonde and bleached hair because of its high vulnerability level. For bleached locks, using specialized care products is essential for maintaining the color as exposure to sunlight will make it turn a cross between brass and yellow. Platinum blondes, in particular, should be using treatments with a violet pigment to neutralize the change in color. In order to choose the product right, you should study a detailed guide to purple shampoo.
Other important hair care routine steps for minimizing UV damage include reducing the frequency of washing your locks and using deep conditioning treatments. The most important thing is to keep your hair and scalp well hydrated. Washing removes natural oils, which protect your locks from drying out. Try to cut this procedure to 3 times a week at most.
Use conditioner every time you wash your hair and a deep conditioning mask at least once a week. If your locks are colored or naturally dry, deep condition after every wash. Consider also getting a moisturizing hair spray to use every day.
2. Use SPF haircare products
Products with SPF25+ serve as the best chemical blocks for the damaging radiation. They aren’t perfect and it might be difficult to find the ones that will fit you personally. There’s also a problem of ‘heaviness’ of sunscreen products for hair. Because of the nature of the chemicals used in these treatments, the majority of them is SPF10 or lower. Even those products might turn your locks unpleasantly greasy, which will make it necessary for you to wash your locks more often. As this is bad for the health of your scalp, you might need to give up on this kind of UV protection for hair. Consider using products containing octyl methyoxycinnamate as it’s a type of sunscreen ingredient.
At the very least, you should get an SPF hairspray to apply during the summer, especially on beach trips. Like any sunscreen, you will have to reapply it regularly.
In case you already have alopecia (hair loss), apply sunscreen creams that contain zinc oxide on the areas where the locks are thinner. These vulnerable spots need all the protection you can give them.
3. Get maximum protection with a hat
Nothing beats UV protection for hair provided by a solid physical barrier, meaning a hat. In order to maximize said protection, you’ll need to wear a wide-brimmed hat or a scarf that will cover all your locks. Caps are nice, but don’t offer much help unless your locks are very short. Don’t forget that transparent and thin fabrics don’t block out UV rays.
You also need to understand that no type of ‘UV defense’ is 100% effective. In order to keep your hair healthy, you need to combine physical and chemical protections with a good hair care routine. You should also consider changing your shampoo and conditioner during summer months as your locks will need more hydration during this time.