Most of us wait all year for long, sunny days and endless opportunities to be outside! The warm breeze on your skin, the sun on your face, the uncomfortable and damaging effects the sun can have on your scalp and hair… wait, what?
While warm weather often means fun times in the great outdoors, it also can bring sun damage to your hair if you’re not careful.
You work hard all year to keep your hair looking great… and summertime should be no exception! With a few important summer hair tips and some year-round practices, you’ll soon know how to protect hair from sun damage.
Why Learn How to Protect Hair From Sun Damage?
Hair is technically a ‘non-living’ part of your body, so you don’t have to worry about sunburn or UV ray protection in the same way you do with your skin. That said, the effect of sun damage and UV rays on your hair is still very real!
While the effects are (luckily!) more cosmetic in nature, too much time in the sun can often lead to damaged hair cuticles and weakened hair shafts. Sun damage on your hair can also result in faded color, hair becoming excessively dry and brittle, and even premature aging.1
With a few changes and precautions, you can be an expert in how to protect hair from sun!
SPF: Not Just For Your Skin
When it comes to how to protect hair from sun, one of the most well-known steps to preparing for a day in the sun might not help you here.
Applying sunscreen to your body and face is incredibly important, but how often are you paying attention to protecting your hair from the sun? Perhaps the most easily forgotten step to sunscreen application is giving your hair and scalp the same attention you give your skin.
To ensure your hair and scalp are safe from UV rays, try adding a spray-on hair sunscreen to your sun-protection routine before going for a swim or participating in prolonged activities outside.
(A gentle reminder: whether you’re playing a serious game of soccer or taking a casual stroll through the farmer’s market, you’re still susceptible to sun damage and should always wear sunscreen).
As a rule, it is recommended to apply sunscreen 20-30 mins before going outside, and reapply every two hours when you’ve gone in the water or become sweaty from exercise. This includes your hair!2
When you remember to use sunscreen as a way to protect hair from sun exposure, you are also protecting your scalp from sunburn — which can lead to a dry, itchy, and flaky scalp, similar to the symptoms of dandruff.
From the Inside Out
Conditioning your hair is a year-round practice, but be sure to kick your hydration routine into “overdrive” when you know you’ll be out in the sun. You can achieve this with the addition of deep-conditioning hair treatments. Conditioners that contain coconut oil or Brazilian nut oil are known to be the most effective for minimizing split ends and hydrating sun-damaged hair. These oils can help penetrate your hair shaft instead of simply sitting on the surface of the follicle.3
Deep conditioners are best when applied to clean, damp hair and left on for at least 5 minutes.
To maximize efforts and really pamper your tresses, tuck your conditioner-soaked hair into a shower cap while bathing or soaking in a tub. This extra step locks in the conditioner by keeping your hair and scalp warm and totally coating every inch of your hair.
Separately, a leave-in conditioner is also a great addition to your daily hair routine. Often in a lightweight sprayable formula, leave-in conditioners coat the hair shaft instantly and create a barrier that “locks” in moisture. This makes your hair feel silky and appear shiny, plus it cuts down on breakage over time which can lead to healthier, stronger hair long after summer has ended.4
Maintain Your Maintenance
Knowing how to protect hair from sun can sometimes mean starting your self-care before you ever go outside. During sunny months, remember to stay on schedule with routine haircuts to keep the ends healthy. Trimming split ends, reshaping hair, and touching up your hair color on a regular basis is a great way to keep your hair from getting too unruly and irreversibly damaged.
In addition to hydrating and conditioning, one of the simplest summer hair tips is to give your blow dryer and hair straightener a break during the sunny days.
It’s no secret that heat-based hair tools cause damage to your hair by stripping hair of natural moisture and causing premature breakage. Those same drying effects are intensified during the sunny months because your hair is exposed to a lot more heat throughout the day when compared to the rest of the year.
To protect hair from the high heat levels that come from hair dryers and styling tools, allow your hair to dry naturally — which is easy to do when it’s hot out! Skip the straightening irons or hot rollers… your hair will thank you later!5
Also, if you find yourself slacking on summer haircare: simplify your routine and use the sun as a great excuse to try that short haircut you’ve always wanted! It’s much easier to maintain a short new hairdo than longer hair, and that leads to a significantly cooler neck and shoulders when in the sun!
Keep It Simple
One of the most effective methods for protecting your hair from the sun is also the simplest way: wear a hat! This is a great way to keep the sun off your shoulders and out of your eyes, which is a much-needed bonus on bright beach days. Plus, adding a hat to your wardrobe also can be a very easy way to “chic-ify” a simple summer dress.
When shopping for a sun hat, a good rule of thumb is to seek a hat that has a full brim of 3 inches at minimum. Instead of measuring effective protection levels by the term SPF (like in sunscreens), clothing is rated on a UPF scale. Many well-made sun hats advertise their UPF ratings right on the label, making it easy to find the most protective choice. Keep an eye out for a rating of at least 50 UPF as a simple, effective, and stylish step towards protecting your hair from the sun.6
With a few small adjustments and additions to your sun routine, soon you’ll be a pro at how to protect hair from sun damage. Using a little common sense and easy summer hair tips, you can look forward to your fall season of healthy-looking tresses after months of sunny summer fun!
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