Hair Damage and the Sun

There is great awareness of the damage that over exposure to the sun causes our skin, however we are not always as conscious of how damaging unprotected sun exposure is to the hair. The sun’s ultra violet energy impacts on the cuticle (outer protective layer of hair) almost the same way as bleaching a hair. Repeated or prolonged sun exposure literally wears away the hair’s cuticle by breaking down its keratin protein composition. Depending on the amount of exposure and how damaged or porous your hair is, you end up with weakened, dry and brittle hair.

Besides the damage that the sun causes to the structure of the hair, it can also affect hair colour. Colour pigment in the hair is held in a group of molecules that are relatively fragile and unstable. That comes in handy if we want to change the colour of our hair because it means the pigment can be altered with the right chemical dyes. The bad news is that prolonged, unprotected sun exposure can have a similar effect by breaking down the pigment molecules inside the cortex, causing color loss. The destruction of hair colour in this way is another cause if damage to the cortex, the heart of the hair.

It is difficult to protect your hair with hair care products. The FDA do not allow hair– care products to have an SPF rating because sunscreen ingredients do not cling to hair very well. Leave – in conditioners or hair styling products with sunscreens have a better chance of staying on your hair but after the hair is styled with blow driers or flat irons these ingredients are more or less destroyed.

How can you protect your hair when out in the sun?

Two options:

1.Take a sunscreen with an SPF 15 or higher rating, which you normally apply to your skin and apply a generous amount evenly throughout your hair after it has been dried. This SPF 15 suncream must also contain UVA protective ingredients like titanium dioxide or zinc oxide.

2. Wear a hat and sunglasses when you are walking around and use the +50 UPF (Ultra Violet protection) Cush’n Shade® when you are sitting in the sun.

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