It takes about eight minutes for the sun’s light to reach the Earth. And once here, it’s easy to be seduced by its radiance. The sun is a proven mood enhancer, tempting you outside to take a leisurely walk or to play hooky at the beach. And soaking up the sun’s ultraviolet B radiation stimulates your body to produce vitamin D.
We all know that too much sunshine will discolor, wrinkle and age your skin. But did you know that sun wreaks havoc on your hair, too? Before that next minute of sunlight warms your tresses, learn how to treat sun-damaged hair - and how to protect that gorgeous mane of yours for many summers to come.
Your hair shaft includes the protein- and pigment-packed inner cortex, as well as the protective outer layer called the cuticle. The cuticle has many overlapping cells that resemble roof shingles. Your hair looks and feels its best when the cuticle lies flat. A smooth cuticle reflects light and is soft to the touch. Unfortunately, daily hair treatments - flat irons, excessive blow drying, even vigorous brushing - can make the shingles stand up and weaken your hair. An open cuticle exposed to sunlight means UV rays are able to penetrate the cortex, which dulls and dehydrates your hair. And if you color your hair, bleaches and dyes have already compromised your cuticle so the dulling and dehydration is even more dramatic.
Overexposure to sun changes the color, texture and look of your hair. Your natural hair color becomes less vivid. If you color your hair, the change is more striking: brunettes go brassy, redheads turn orange and blonds become peroxide yellow. Sun-damaged hair is parched, making it coarse and frizzy. Because your hair is so stressed, it is more difficult to style. Plus you’ll experience everything from split ends to breakage.
If you have sun-damaged hair, start by getting your hair trimmed by a professional stylist. It is very difficult to repair split ends, so cut them off, even if it means going shorter than you’re used to. To treat your remaining cuticles and promote hair growth, salons offer a variety of restorative services including intense conditioning treatments and scalp massages.
If you color your hair, and it’s midsummer, consider a gloss for faded hair. It will add shine, subdue the sun-enhanced brassiness and last for up to four weeks. At summer’s end, be sure to get a touch-up or color correction followed by deep conditioning.
To nourish sun-damaged hair any time, the beauty industry offers an array of products to fit your hair type, busy schedule and budget. The goal of these summer hair care products is to seal your cuticle and retain moisture, while keeping the harmful rays at bay. Use a mild shampoo and wash your hair less frequently, relying on dry shampoo in between shampoos. Fortify your hair daily with a leave-in conditioner that contains UV protection.
To keep your locks shiny and shielded from the sun, choose ultra-hydrating styling products that also contain SPF. Once a week use a clarifying shampoo to rinse your hair of any sunscreen build-up. To safeguard your colored or chemically-treated hair from the sun, many companies offer full product lines. Regular hot oil treatments, hair masks or overnight balms are perfect for deep conditioning day or night.
To keep your hair silky smooth all summer long, there are many home remedies for you to employ. After shampooing, rinse your hair in invigorating cool water. It helps seal your cuticles and makes hair more manageable. As much as possible, let your hair air dry rather than using blow dryers and styling irons. If you have long hair and want to expose less hair to the scorching effects of the sun, wear it up in a ponytail, in braids or in a bun. Of course, wearing a hat not only shades your face, but protects your scalp and hair, as well. You can create your own hot oil and hair mask treatments by using ingredients - like olive oil - from your kitchen. But avoid lemon juice because it will further dry your hair. And help hair be as healthy as it can be by eating a balanced diet, drinking plenty of water and exercising regularly.