You already know your skin needs UVA/UVB protection. But you may not realize that your scalp and hair need sun protection, too. (Especially color-treated hair.) That’s where hair sunscreens come in. “Highlighted hair or overall lightened hair is most compromised because hair is lifted several shades and that makes for weakened strands,” says celebrity hairstylist Mark Garrison. “There really needs to be extra care taken to protect hair from elements.”
He adds that permanent color single process is more fragile than demi-permanent. It will oxidize more quickly if not protected. “Oxidize means it will get lighter in color and brunettes will turn a reddish or brassy color. Always protect color-treated hair regardless of what kind of color-treated it is and note that kind of ‘crazy’ colors — like cartoon colors — don’t last long in hair anyway so extra, extra protection is needed.”
What exactly does the sun do to hair?
We know that the sun’s rays damage hair, but how? “The sun generates heat and heat opens up the hair cuticle allowing color to oxidize a lot sooner and leaving the hair with loopholes,” says colorist and educator at Mark Garrison Salon Dina Hasanovic. “Applying treatments to the hair that are conditioning will keep the hair cuticle closed so that the color stays locked in for a while longer.” And it’s not only your hair. The sun puts every part of your body at risk, even your scalp. Everyone must protect the skin on their head with hair sunscreens.
It’s not just the sun.
Allison Gandolfo, colorist at John Barrett at Bergdorf Goodman, says it’s important to realize that as damaging as the sun is so are other summertime environmental aggressors. (Think chlorine.) Especially colored hair. “I recommend using the Kérastase Soleil line, which is formulated with SPF sun protection and swim protection,” she says. Gandolfo says it’s imperative to stay away from any hair products formulated with sulfates. She also recommends taking a break from flatirons.
It’s also worth noting that hair needs to be protected year-round. “Not only do you need to protect your hair from the heat, but also from the extreme cold, which can make hair brittle.” Gandolfo recommends trying a shampoo that will help reconstruct the structure of your hair once we transition out of the warm weather.
What type of hair sunscreens and products work best to protect hair?
Frédéric Fekkai, founder and CEO of Bastide and founder of Fekkai Hair Care, says that when it comes to keeping hair hydrated all summer long, leave-in hair masks are best. A hat, he says, goes a long way, too. “If you plan on doing a lot of swimming, do the hair mask under a swim cap. Your color will last much longer and your hair will thank you for it!”
“A lot of natural ingredients, like shea butter, argan oil, grapeseed oil and sunflower seed oil, are great for protecting and nourishing hair, colored or not,” he explains.”These ingredients are rich in vitamin E and linoleic acids that nourish and strengthen hair and prevent drying out, whether from chlorine or salt. Some oils, like sunflower seed oil, are lighter and can be even found in sprays, while the heavier protectants, like shea butter, are more common in hair masks.”
Ingredients to avoid:
- Sodium lauryl sulfate: It’s what makes shampoo lather. Although this ingredient isn’t bad for your hair once in a while, if used every day it will make hair color fade sooner.
- Mineral oils: Known to irritate the scalp and stop hair growth. Remember, a healthy scalp will generate healthy hair. Mineral oils also tend to dry out hair as they deprive hair of its natural oils that contain vitamins from our own body.
- Sea salt sprays: Salt water is great for our body and helps detox our skin, but it’s extremely drying for hair. A leave-in conditioner spray is a must in your beach bag. Apply immediately before and after coming out of the water.
Here are the best hair sunscreens to keep your strands and scalp protected all summer long.
Aveda Sun Care Protective Hair Veil, $36 at Aveda
This lightweight, water-resistant UV defense mist relies on UVA/UVB filters derived from wintergreen and cinnamon bark oils to protect your strands. Suitable for all hair types, it forms an invisible barrier to minimize damage and dryness caused by sun exposure.
COOLA Scalp & Hair Mist Organic Sunscreen SPF 30, $26 at COOLA
This product is a quick and easy way to prevent hair from color fading and protect your scalp from cancer-causing rays.
Kérastase Soleil Huile Sirene Hair Oil Mist, $30 at Kérastase
Protect your scalp and hair with this formula. It also delivers the crunch-free beach waves of your summer dreams.
Clarins Sun Care Oil Mist SPF 30 Body and Hair, $45 at Amazon
Clarins comes to the rescue with this dry oil sunscreen. Apply on both your body and your hair to block the sun’s rays. The lightweight formula boasts a blend of five powerful natural extracts to protect from dehydration and photoaging.
Sachajuan Hair in the Sun, $35 at Sachajuan
Rocking colored locks? Meet your new summer BFF. This pick has Ocean Silk Technology to protect your hair and your hair color from the sun via a UV filter that actually stays put even after a shower. You can also use it as a styling cream.
Supergoop! Poof 100% Mineral Part Powder SPF 35 PA+++, $34 at Sephora
The brand is beloved for its sunscreens. You can see why with this 100 percent mineral SPF 35 powder spray designed to keep your scalp safe. It’s nongreasy and virtually undetectable. Think of it as dry shampoo with UV protection.
Sun Bum Scalp & Hair Mist SPF 30, $14.99 at Sun Bum
Sun Bum’s sunscreen spray is super lightweight so it won’t weigh down your mane. The mist drys quickly so there’s no need to delay your summer plans.
Rahua Hydration Detangler UV Barrier, $34 at DermStore
Safeguard your strands from UV rays while banishing tangles with this pick. It’s infused with morete, rahua and sacha inchi oils to soften, smooth frizz, hydrate and fortify locks to prevent breakage and damage. A mix of passion fruit and mango aromas make for one intoxicating scent.
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