Sun Protection Factor
Bob Richardson Tuesday, May 01, 2012
With the onset of warmer weather it’s time to increase sun protection, even on your hair and scalp. The aspect of global warming, stronger UV rays and the threat of melanoma cannot be ignored. The goal is to enjoy summer’s sun, while resisting sun damage as much as possible.
Cause and Effect
How does the sun actually damage hair? The sun’s rays, in conjunction with oxygen in the atmosphere, combine to act as a mild bleaching agent, causing the cuticle to open and colour molecules to be bleached out. The result is potentially dry and blonder looking hair – the severity varies with the texture (diameter of each hair) and the natural colour. The darker the hair, the less affected; the lighter the hair, the more affected.
Combine this result with strong alkaline solutions, such as chlorine and bromide in pools or the salt water in the sea, and the problem is accentuated. For example, light-blond children who swim in pools all summer often end the season with white-blond hair.
The number of hours in the sun will affect the degree of lightening. Likewise, chemically treated hair will lighten further and faster than naturally blond hair. Artificially coloured molecules are bleached and will fade much faster than natural colour molecules.
Regardless of hair colour, all hair will dry as a result of over exposure to the sun. Likewise, the scalp is vulnerable to severe problems.
Solutions to Consider
The most effective way to keep your hair from lightening and drying out is to keep it covered. Although not always the most practical solution, sun hats or scarves can be very fashionable and fun to wear. Pull long hair into a pony tail to minimize the surface area of the hair that is exposed to the sun. Remember to change your part frequently to expose different parts of your hair and scalp to the sun, especially if you constantly wear your hair one way.
Colour your hair more frequently if you have a problem with colour fading. This will stop you from feeling so bland. Because highlighted hair often turns lighter in the summer, consider having lowlights applied in the fall to darken the look.
Ensure your hair is washed with the appropriate shampoo and conditioner for your hair type. If you are frequently swimming in a pool or saltwater sea, use a clarifying shampoo to remove chlorine or salt residue.
For Sun-Damaged Hair
It is best to use products that are formulated to tackle sun damage. L’Oreal Professional has released a line called Solar Sublime which consists of aftersun products that are formulated to counteract the drying effects of the sun. Other manufacturers have similar products on the market.
Kerastase Paris has a line specifically formulated for sun protection for hair called SOLEIL. They also have products designed for pre-sun, sea and chlorine exposure. The line includes Bain (shampoo), conditioners, treatments, sun screens for the hair, and waterproofing (stops the chlorine or saltwater penetrating into the hair).
Talk to your hair stylist for suggestions.