Do You Need Sunscreen For Your Hair? Here's How The Sun Affects Your Strands
Summer is in full swing, and my freckles are coming out. While I love the look of my mini sun flecks, they also serve as a reminder that UV rays are officially in overdrive mode. As a result, I've been extra careful about my SPF application on my face and body, covering every inch of myself in ray-blocking protection — with the exception of my hair. That said, I've been noticing an influx of hair products that offer UV protection, which has had me wondering whether you really need sunscreen for your hair.
To be honest, I had never really considered the question until earlier this year, when French-born haircare brand, Klorane, launched an entire sun protection line complete with a shampoo, conditioner, and a protective oil designed to thwart UV rays. At a glance, I dismissed the whole sunscreen-for-hair thing as a clever marketing ploy, but eventually I found myself wondering whether there could be some truth to it.
“Sunshine can absolutely affect your hair color," says master colorist and hair color educator, Kate Reid. "UV rays can create porosity in your hair, which in turn means that your color will fade faster than it would normally." Additionally, Reid explains, the sun can enhance warm tones in your hair. Translation: catching some rays can thwart efforts to maintain a cool, ashy hue — if that's the look you're going for.
Christine Thompson, Color Director and Co Founder of Spoke and Weal, agrees. "UV rays will break down the elasticity of the hair and can fade hair color at a much more accelerated rate," she says, adding that it's crucial to take extra care when you're exposing your hair to prolonged sun exposure. "Hats and scarves are one way to protect the hair," she suggests. Additionally, she recommends using product that contain ample sun protection (her fave: the Aveda Sun Care Protective Hair Veil, $29).
Similarly, the aforementioned Klorane collection harnesses the properties of ylang ylang wax (derived from the namesake flower) to form a seal of protection around the hair shaft and block UV rays. Not only does this coating protect from sunlight, but it also shields hair from other damaging environmental elements including sea, sand, and pool (chlorine) — i.e. all of the spots I plan to hit up on the reg this summer.
My favorite product from the line, The Klorane Sun Radiance Protective Oil ($18), is a spritzable hair sunscreen. While the concept itself sounds like a greasy mess, the silicone-free formula is surprisingly lightweight and — no joke — entirely non-greasy. In fact, using this stuff is a lovely sensorial experience: the formula imparts a subtle shine and smells like my beach vacation Pinterest board incarnate. (I wish I could convey the scent a bit more eloquently, but honestly you just have to whiff it for yourself!) Alternatively, you could try the Seven Haircare Rinzu Protect Spray, $28, which smells like zesty grapefruit and contains galangal root to coat the hair in non-greasy UV protection. (Yep, I had to google "galangal root," too.)
If you want to go a step further in protecting your hair from the sun, consider also using a shampoo and/or conditioner spiked with UV-protective ingredients. Klorane's ylang ylang-infused shampoo/conditioner ($9 each) smell just as gorgeous as the aforementioned oil spray. If you're in the mood for a splurge, the Oribe Shampoo/Conditioner for Beautiful Color duo ($46/$49 respectively) also contain galanga root to naturally protect strands from the sun's rays (and add a touch of fanciness to your shower, I might add.)
If your hair is already feeling damaged from the sun, Reid recommends investing in a leave-in treatment such as the Kevin Murphy Leave-In Repair Treatment, which rehabs damaged hair with an infusion of keratin and jojoba seed oil. And, although coconut oil can be an excellent hydrator for skin, Thompson warns against overusing it in your hair. "A lot of people will add coconut oil to the hair thinking it's going to moisturize, but in fact coconut oil can dry the hair out more," she says. "Repeated use can add protein build up making your hair stiff, hard and less elastic — ultimately leading to more breakage" she explains. (I don't know about you, but I'm A-OK saving my coconut oil to spread over toast.)
So, there you have it! Sun protection keeps your skin and your hair healthy.