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Hair Care & Advice

Hair sunscreen: why sun protection isn’t just for your skin

This summer treat your hair like your skin. By using hair sunscreen to protect your locks on the sunniest of days, you’ll see healthier hair year long.

Sunscreen and UV protection has long been advised for the skin and is already build into the skin and makeup products we use daily. While most people are familiar with the damaging effects the sun has on skin, did you know UV exposure can be damaging to your hair as well? We’re not trying to be downers, but just want you to have the healthiest summer hair possible, sis. Especially when you’ll be out and about more often on warmer days.

It’s important to first understand what sun exposure does to the hair and further below we’ll share some tips on hair sunscreen, how to use it, and some of our favorite products.

How does the sun affect your hair?

Excessive sun exposure damages the hair’s structure, causing dry, frizzy hair and can also cause loss of pigment and color. Your scalp can also be burned (just like the rest of your body) when out in the sun too long. UV rays will weaken and dry out the hair’s outer layer which is the cuticle, this creates a loss of moisture, leading to dry hair. The damage to this barrier will also cause pigment and color to fade. Those who have dry or damaged hair are also more susceptible to further damage. Have salon color-treated hair? Excessive exposure to UV rays can literally drain that expensive color job.

As you probably already have a sunscreen routine for your skin, add one more step to protect your hair and scalp too. The best part? These products and tips can also be used to protect your hair extensions so you can wear them longer. Here are some of our hair sunscreen tips and the best hair sunscreen to keep your locks healthy and moisturized in warmer, sunnier months.

Protect your scalp

We are big proponents of healthy scalp, healthy hair. Your scalp, just like the vulnerable skin on your cheeks and shoulders can become easily burned and damaged by sun. Not only can a sun-burned scalp be painful, it causes dryness, flaking and itchiness (yes, just like any other sunburn). Sunscreen for hair and scalp can differ. Don’t worry about slathering sunscreen lotion onto your scalp like shampoo, experts recommend sprays instead.

Best sunscreens for hair and scalp

Clarins Sunscreen Care Oil Spray Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Products with SPF (sun protection factor) labels are typically used for skin products (you’ll recognize them as SPF 15, 30 etc.) When a product is labelled as such it indicates it offers protection from UV filters or are UV protective.

Nuxe Sun Milky Oil for Hair We love a product that does more, and this oil spray is just that. With nourishing ingredients like coconut oil and its SPF properties, this product protects from UV rays, as well as moisturizes the hair and provides protection from salt and chlorine. Bonus? The fragrance combines sweet orange, Tahitian gardenia and coconut – summer in a bottle.

Banana Boat Sport Quik Dri Scalp Spray Sunscreen This trusted screen brand really has you covered head to toe. This spray specific for your scalp is SPF 30 and can be applied before and after a swim.

Sheer sunscreen is also great for the scalp as they are light and provide dual protection for your strands and scalp. 

Beach and pool-side days

Summertime calls for trips to the beach and lazy days hanging by the pool. For those long hours of lounging, tanning, and hanging with your besties, pack the right products to ensure you can enjoy these outings all summer long. There are several ways to protect your hair while swimming, including covering your hair, using a conditioning mask post-swim, and of course applying the right products.

Best sunscreens for hair for beach or pool trips

Philip Kingsley Swimcap Water Resistant Mask – The name says it all, and its origins are even better. This product was created at the request of the US Olympic Synchronized Swimming Team and if it’s good enough for those professional swimmers – count us in. This conditioning treatment protects the hair from UV damage and the drying effects of chlorine and salt water. It is made of a water-resistant formula and should be applied before diving in. With ingredients such as Olive Oil and Vitamin E, it will nourish your hair while you’re splashing about.

IGK Blocked Water-Resistant Hair Shield – Similar to the Philip Kingsley product, IGK’s hair shield can be applied to wet or dry hair before your swim and is suitable for all hair types. While not requested by professional athletes, this product was inspired by another favourite product of ours – waterproof mascara! This Hair Shield protects from UV rays, water, salt, chlorine, sweat, and also washes out with shampoo.  

Coola Scalp & Hair Mist Organic Sunscreen SPF 30 – Another goodie for hair and scalp, this mist can easily be applied before heading out into the sun. Another reason we love it? It is water resistant for up to 80 minutes and is reef-safe, meaning its ingredients aren’t harmful to our oceans. Win-win. Bonus: it has a natural ocean salted sage scent for that true vacay vibe.

When going for a dip, it’s best to remove hair extensions to save from tangles and knots. With clip in hair extensions, it’s easy to apply and remove when needed. Hair extensions made with Remy human hair are also just as susceptible to the same UV, chlorine, and salt damage as your natural hair, so they need UV-protection love too. The above-mentioned products will work for your hair extensions too but be sure to properly rinse product from your hair extensions and treat them with care. Here are our top tips on how to wash your hair extensions.

Best hair sunscreens for color-treated hair

UV rays are even more damaging to color-treated hair. Sun exposure naturally breaks down the chemical bonds that hold the color or pigment in hair dye, causing the color to fade or strip away. Lighter color and styles are always popular in the summertime, and these dye jobs can sometimes cost a pretty penny. To protect your investment and the health of your hair, keep the hair moisturized and use hair sunscreen on color-treated hair. The same goes for color or style-treated hair extensions such as balayage or highlights. The above-mentioned products will do the trick and there are several color-specific products made to keep color-treated hair healthy and full of color longer.

Take cover

Those wide-brimmed sun hats don’t just make for some great OOTD photos, but they also protect your hair (and skin) from the sun. Packing a sunhat with you on your sunny outings is an easy product free way to protect yourself from the sun. Plus there are so many cute hat hairstyles you can pull off. If you’re a runner or take up more sports outdoors in the summertime, take your favorite cap with you. Under Armour also make this sporty hat that can accommodate your ponytails.

Post-sun tips

Like any hair product, be sure to use just as much as you need. The less you use, the less you have to wash, meaning protecting your hair from drying out. While it’s important to rinse out product such as hair sunscreen it’s also important to nourish the hair. Hair masks and conditioning treatments should also be used in warmer months, once a week or once every two weeks depending on your hair type. For colored hair be sure to use shampoo and conditioners for color-treated hair for extra moisture and to help lock in the color longer.

Protecting your hair is a year-round task but should not get in the way of your summer or vacation plans. Pack travel-size hair sunscreen products in your carry-on, gym bag, or purse and remember to apply just as you would with moisturizer or setting spray. Sun protection isn’t just for your skin and picking up a product or two that works with your hair will mean healthier hair all year long. 

Written by: Rosalyn Solomon

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