Sunlight is sensational, and summer is sweet. But those bright ultraviolet (UV) rays can wreak havoc on hair, drying out roots and ends and bleaching or fading hair color. Frequent and extended sun exposure can lead to brittle hair and breakage.
How can sun-lovers protect hair from UV light damage? Follow these four tips to preserve the luster, color or quality of your hair.
1. Cleanse It
Clean hair tends to be the healthiest hair, particularly in sunlight. Pool chemicals, sunscreen products, salt water, tanning oils and even sweat can damage hair, leaving locks extra vulnerable to UV light damage.
Washing hair as soon as possible after sunbathing, swimming or participating in outdoor sports can help to minimize UV light damage to locks. Even wetting hair before swimming may minimize the absorption of swimming pool and spa chemicals or salt water.
The use of a clarifying shampoo once a week often proves beneficial for protecting hair from UV light damage by removing buildup of harmful ingredients. Of course, after a clarifying shampoo, a quality conditioning treatment is essential for healthy hair.
2. Condition It
Conditioning is key for healthy hair, and quality hair-conditioning products can prevent UV light damage and keep hair strong and well maintained. Deep conditioners and hair moisturizers may be applied to hair before sun exposure and thoroughly rinsed out afterward.
Some hair conditioning products actually contain sunscreen. These conditioners usually carry a sun protection formula (SPF) rating indication on their packaging.
Hot-oil conditioners are generally not advised for sun exposure, as the heat and oil may cause hair to fade or bleach (and become more brittle) in UV light.
3. Cap It
Of course, a hat or scarf offers ideal sun protection for any style of hair. From baseball caps to broad-brimmed headgear, hats and caps can shield hair and skin from UV light damage.
Swimmers (both male and female) may choose to wear swim caps to protect hair from the sun’s rays (magnified in the water), as well as salt water or pool chemicals.
4. Customize It
Strategic hairstyling offers a variety of ways to protect hair from UV light damage, especially on hot and sunny days. Hair part variations, braids, pigtails, ponytails and up-do hairstyles can help to prevent overexposure of hair to harmful UV light. Such hairstyles also keep hair in check, avoiding drying and breakage in strong winds or weather.
Long hair may be pulled straight back from the face, rather than parted, to protect a tender scalp from sunburn as well.