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  • Writer's pictureKim Giles

The Summer Heat and Your Hair: Understanding the Impact of Sun and UV Rays

As we bask in the warmth of the Southern California summer sun, it's crucial to remember that our hair needs protection just as much as our skin does. Prolonged exposure to the sun, heat, and UV rays can have detrimental effects on our hair - even an afternoon on La Jolla Shores can have a real impact! Here's an in-depth look at how these elements impact your hair and what you can do to protect it.

The Sun and Your Hair

The sun's rays can damage your hair in several ways. UVA and UVB rays can harm the outer cover of the hair strand, known as the cuticle. This damage can lead to discoloration, dry and brittle strands, broken or split ends, thinning, and frizziness.

Just like overusing a hair dryer can cause significant damage to your hair, so can the sun’s rays. If you notice that your hair is starting to feel dryer, frizzier, or brittle, it may be a sign that it’s damaged. Extended heat and dryness can also cause more breakage and split ends in your hair over time.

Color Changes and Premature Graying

The sun's rays act very much like bleach on hair. They react with the melanin in hair and remove the color in an irreversible chemical reaction. This reaction also damages the hair’s cuticle and protein, which is called keratin.

While it's normal for many of us to start seeing gray hairs as we get older, extensive heat damage from the sun can actually accelerate this process.

Vulnerability of Different Hair Types

While any kind of hair is prone to sun damage, your hair can be particularly vulnerable if it’s fine or light-colored. Finer, lighter hair lacks the thickness or pigment that can protect it from the sun’s rays. On the other hand, darker, coarser hair usually is oilier, and its thickness, darker color, and oil covering help to protect it.

Your hair is also more fragile and more prone to sun damage if you have thin, flat, or tightly coiled hair. Hot flat irons or rollers, chlorinated water in swimming pools, or lightening your hair can make it more vulnerable to the summer stresses of heat and sun.

Hair Sunscreen: A Protective Measure

You can take precautions to protect your hair from the hot summer sun. Hair sunscreen works by forming a protective barrier on the surface of your hair that helps shield it from the sun’s damaging ultraviolet (UV) rays. The active ingredients in hair sunscreen products typically include UV filters like avobenzone, octinoxate, and zinc oxide, which work by absorbing or reflecting UV radiation.

However, it's important to note that hair sunscreen works differently from sunscreen for your skin. Hair sunscreen focuses on protecting your cuticle (the external area of the hair strand) by creating a buffer between it and the sun’s rays.

Protecting Your Scalp

While the desire to protect your hair from the sun may mostly come from a desire to keep your hair shiny and manageable, it’s important to note that our scalp requires more hefty protection from the sun. A sunburnt scalp sounds uncommon, but the top of your head is one of the most prone areas to sunburn on your body.

As your scalp area is part of your skin, you’ll want to apply a regular SPF product (a lotion or spray is fine) that actually prevents cell damage from UV rays.

Living in San Diego... it's the Price We Pay!

Summer is a favorite season for many, and there’s a lot to enjoy - especially here in San DIego. Don’t let the sun’s rays put a damper on your fun. The next time you’re out in the sun, don’t forget to shield your hair, too. Especially if your hair has gone through previous heat and styling damage, adding an extra layer of protection through hair sunscreen can help prevent additional breakage.

Remember, everyone's hair is unique, and what works for one person might not work for another. It's all about finding what works best for your hair type and sticking to it. If you're in the La Jolla or UTC area and need personalized advice or professional hair care services, feel free to drop by our salon. We're here to help you achieve the hair of your dreams!

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