Can Sun Exposure Damage Hair?

The enviable sunlit look has inspired a multitude of sun-activated hair bleaching products. Unfortunately, the lightened look that hints at wellness and outdoor fun is actually a sign of UV damage. UV light has been shown to break down hair pigment and cause it to lose protein, making protection from the sun essential.

Lighter Hair, Beware
The sun can change your natural hair color, even if you already dye it. Blondes -- whether their hair color is natural or from a bottle -- are more susceptible to UV damage and should be especially careful. If you want lighter strands, score them with a controlled dye job rather than damaging sunlight. Avoidable signs of UV damage, like a sunburned scalp or weakened hair, make your hair look unhealthy and neglected.

Protect Hair
Chic scarves and hair wraps alone won’t protect your hair from UV rays. Consider using the level of protection you give your skin by donning a hat while you’re outdoors. This layer will put an effective barrier between your hair and those harmful sunbeams.

On days when hat hair may be an issue, style your hair without parting -- it will help you avoid a painful sunburn that will peel and flake off like dandruff. Also, use hair products that contain UV protection to help guard your tresses on a regular basis.

Minimize Damage
Just like skin, hair that’s been exposed to harmful UV rays can accumulate visible damage over time. Dull, sun-frazzled locks can be kept at bay with deep conditioning. (All dyed or chemically treated hair should be deep-conditioned on a regular basis, regardless.) Moisturizing products, like hair serum or smoothing lotion, can serve as temporary fixes for sun-damaged hair.

by Elizabeth Lilly