How The Sun Affects Your Hair & How to Protect It
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Most of us know that we have to protect our skin from the sun. We use sunscreen, sun-protective clothing, and hats to help keep harmful UV rays off our skin. We also know that if we don’t protect our skin from the sun, it increases our risk for sun-related health problems like sun cancer and burns. We even protect our eyes from the sun with sunglasses. But what about our hair? Have you ever given a thought to how the sun can affect your hair? Well, just like your skin, you also need to protect your hair from sun exposure. Here’s how the sun affects your hair and how you can protect it.
How the Sun Affects Your Hair
The sun has many incredible benefits for our health, including giving us vitamin D and boosting our mood. However, it also emits UV rays that can be damaging. Specifically, UVA and UVB rays are known to increase free radicals circulating in our bodies, so we have to block them.
Free radicals and premature aging
Free radicals are unstable oxygen molecules that take energy away from your own cells. This energy deficiency causes oxidative stress. When free radicals are in the skin, it also causes enzymes to turn against your cells and breaks down collagen, which can cause premature aging. A good way to envision what is happening in your skin is to think about an apple. Once you cut it, the inside immediately starts to turn brown because it goes through oxidation. The same applies to your skin and even your scalp!
Damages your scalp
You probably already know that a healthy scalp means healthy hair. If you don’t protect your scalp from sun damage, your hair will surely suffer. Yet, we often forget to protect our scalps because we know they are covered by hair. The hair is very good at protecting your scalp from sun damage when it covers the whole area. However, most of us inevitably have exposed areas, including our hairlines, part lines, and bald spots. Even people with thinner hair are more susceptible to sun damage because they lack that extra barrier.
Intriguingly, people with darker hair have an easier time protecting their scalp from the sun than those with lighter hair. And, of course, people with lighter hair (especially redheads) are generally more prone to melanoma, although it can affect anyone.
Harms the cuticle
Harmful UV rays also damage the cells that make up your hair. Our hair strands are wrapped in lipids, which help to provide moisture and give it shine. Sun exposure damages these lipids, making your hair feel dry, limp, and can make it harder to manage. Indeed, it can even make it frizzy and cause it to break more easily. Free radicals also cause keratin in your hair to break down, making hair lose its strength and structure.
How to Protect Your Hair From Sun Damage
Wear a hat
The most obvious way to protect your hair from the sun is to wear a hat whenever you are outside. If you have long hair, you will want to consider wearing a wide-brimmed hat to get more coverage. Also, be cautious of hats that have holes, as obviously, that will allow sunlight to hit your hair and scalp. If you aren’t a hat person, you can always use an umbrella or a headscarf to protect yourself.
Limit your sun exposure
You do not need a lot of time in the sunshine for vitamin D synthesis to occur in your skin. So, limit your time in direct sunlight to prevent sun damage. However, that does not mean you need to go indoors. You can certainly enjoy being outside, but opt to sit in shaded areas away from direct sunlight.
Use SPF on your hair
Sunscreen is not just for your skin. You can also buy hair products that apply SPF to your hair. SPF stands for “Sun Protective Factor” and is a measurement of how well a sunscreen protects your skin from UV rays. Usually, SPF protects from only UVB rays, but broadspectrum sunscreens also prevent harmful UVA rays. The number you see next to SPF indicates how long you can spend in the sun before reapplying. Ideally, you want to use an SPF between 30-50, and most sunscreens do not offer any additional protection above 50 SPF.
You can get SPF in the form of sprays for your hair and also shampoos and conditioners. If you use a spray, you will want to primarily focus on the ends of your hair, as they are older and more prone to damage.
The best way to protect your hair with SPF is to use a shampoo and conditioner with it. The reason this is ideal because it is the surest way to get all of your strands covered. These products are not that common, so don’t assume any shampoo or conditioner contains SPF. One product line that does contain SPF is the RADIA Shampoo and Conditioner, which is safe for color-treated hair.
Wash your hair regularly in warmer weather
Especially in the summertime, it is essential to wash your hair regularly, as sweat can accumulate and oil is more likely to build up on your scalp. Additionally, because we are outside more, our hair can trap environmental toxins and particles that can be aggravating, including dust and allergens. When these particles are left on our hair and scalp too long, they can cause inflammation and irritate the skin.
With summer here, it is high time to start protecting your hair and skin from the sun. Shop the RADIA line at DS Laboratories to get full coverage from the sun while maintaining your hair’s color, shine, and moisture.