Can UV Light Damage Your Hair?
The short answer to this important question is yes, light in the ultraviolet spectrum, including UVA and UVB light, can seriously damage your hair.
The radiological properties from this spectrum of light can destroy not only the individual strands, the follicles that grow them, breakdown protein bonds (effecting shine and strength), and fade pigmentation of hair color and hair color treatments (ever wonder why you your hair gets "lighter" after a trip to the beach??). Skin cancer is a factor here as well, because your hair is not a great protection for your scalp so damage may occur, causing skin cancer to begin.
Why Does The Sun Damage My Hair?
Most of the damage caused by the sun is simply due to the evaporation of the natural oils that keep it healthy and shiny. The heat and direct UV exposure causes much of these oils to evaporate off your scalp, taking away moisture and the natural sheen of your hair as it does so. This can cause it to become dry, brittle and frayed in the short term, but can seriously stall future growth if left unchecked.
The radiation of UV light is also an issue. This pulls further moisture out of the hair and scalp, but also naturally stunts the production of new hair cuticles, basically ensuring that once damage has been done to the pores, it will be irreparable without expensive treatments.
More directly however, UVA/UVB exposure alters pigment in the follicle strands - so color loss can be significant. Think of it this way. Have you ever put a photograph or picture on a table near a window and noticed it fades over time.
Similarly, you may have noticed fading of color of furniture fabric if it is near a window, door or glass door. Same thing happens to your hair!
Ultraviolet sun damage has the same effect on protein bonds as it does pigmentation. Over time protein and keratin bonds can be damaged by repeated sun exposure. Protein bonds are in large part what gives your hair flexibility, resistance to frizz and splitting, strength and shine.>
Protection & Repair
The best prevention for sun damaged hair is simple and very effective. Start with wearing a hat, preferably one that is wide brimmed and covers all of your hair. If any is poking out, it may be in danger of exposure, but protecting the scalp is the foremost concern. A hat provides almost one hundred percent protection from scalp and hair damage for all that is covered.
For repair, the focus needs to be on hydration, restoring protein bonds, and helping protect color and color treatments.
The best shampoo for UV and sun damage is Nourish's Keeping The Color (click on image to the right to go to product page). Don't let the name dissuade you. Though it was developed to maintain curls, it is great for all hair types and styles. It contains Keratin and various weights of proteins, is sulfate-free and paraben-free, and provides intense, lightweight moisture to revive hydration.
For added protection, you can make a sunblock mixture for your hair that won’t damage the roots further.
Take a few dabs of sunscreen, preferably SPF 25, any more and you can cause damage from the sunblock, and mix it into a spray bottle with water and you instantly have the best shampoo for dry damaged hair
. Then lightly spritz your hair and scalp while styling and you have sun protection for your hair.
There are also sun blocking shampoos and conditioners. They can be expensive but they provide protection and convenience. They can also damage the hair, because there are too many foreign chemical compounds to deal with.
If you choose to use an SPF shampoo, be sure to also use the best clarifying shampoo
possible, because the SPF chemicals can build at the roots of your hair, and clog the pores, causing more undue damage. Make sure when you use these, to do your scalp very thoroughly, and with full strength SPF, and make sure to do your ears, eyelids, and nose.
If you are using sunblock or an SPF shampoo, it is also very important that you use a deep moisturizing conditioner, as the SPF can draw much of that out, damaging your hair any way.
If you use a high lightening serum, such as lemon juice, than staying out of the sun is even more important, because the acids will cause the hair to become dry and weak as well.