How to Protect Your Hair from Sun & UV Damage [+ 8 Summer Haircare Tips]

Most of us are well-versed in the importance of protecting our skin from the sun’s powerful rays. But what about our hair?

Like our skin, our hair and scalp can also feel the heat. The science is clear: Extended exposure to the sun and UV rays can lead to dryness and discoloration and even damage the very structure of your hair. And your scalp — just like any other part of your skin — can suffer from sunburn too.

Extending sun protection beyond our skin is crucial. That’s why we’ve assembled a series of summer haircare recommendations to protect hair from the sun, even on the brightest days. Keep reading to explore our top tips for minimizing UV damage all summer long.

Does Sun Damage Hair?

Sun exposure is about more than getting that coveted summer glow. It has far-reaching effects that can impact the health and integrity of our hair. When hair is subject to prolonged sun exposure, it’s not just the heat that causes damage — UV radiation plays a significant role too.

Wilma Bergfield, M.D. and Director of Dermatopathology Fellowship at Cleveland Clinic, clarifies, “If your hair has prolonged exposure to the sun, UVA and UVB rays can damage the outside cover of the hair strand, called the cuticle.” When the cuticle is damaged, it can lead to numerous hair health issues, from dryness and breakage to loss of shine and pliability.

someone holding their blonde hair in a grey shirt

Why Is Protecting Your Hair From the Sun Important?

When it comes to summer wellness, safeguarding your hair from the sun’s rays is just as vital as protecting your skin. The sun’s impact on hair goes far beyond causing a few extra tangles after a day at the beach — it can significantly alter your hair’s protein structure, moisture levels, and color.

Here’s why safeguarding your hair from the sun is key:

  • Protein protection: UVB rays from the sun can degrade the essential proteins in your hair. These proteins give your hair its strength and resilience. When they’re compromised, your hair’s health is directly affected.
  • Color care: Exposure to UVA rays can lead to changes in your hair color. This happens when radiation is absorbed by amino acids in your hair, leading to a process that generates free radicals, causing color alterations.
  • Moisture retention: Summer brings increased sensitivity to dryness. The combination of heat and UV radiation can strip your hair of its natural moisture, leaving it more susceptible to breakage.
  • Color-treated hair: For those with dyed hair, the sun can be particularly damaging. UV rays can break down the chemical bonds in hair dye, causing color to fade. Plus, the heat can lift the hair cuticle, making it easier for the color to leach.

7 Ways to Protect Your Hair From Sun Damage

A woman with a tan sun hat on. With her hand on top of the hat looking downwards.

While we can’t control the intensity of the sun’s rays, we can certainly control our response to it. With scientifically-proven Living Proof products and practical everyday tips, you can minimize sun damage and maintain healthy, vibrant hair throughout the summer. Here’s how:

  1. Add a protective barrier: Hair products like Living Proof’s Restore Repair Leave-In create a shield against the sun, not only conditioning and smoothing but also protecting against UV rays and heat. The Restore Perfecting Spray is another proven product that detangles hair and provides UV and heat protection while adding shine. For an all-around approach, our Perfect hair Day™ Healthy Hair Perfector restores hair’s outermost protective layer and offers UV protection benefits.
  2. Style strategically: Adopt hairstyles that minimize sun exposure. Buns, braids, or updos can reduce the surface area of your hair directly exposed to the sun.
  3. Wear a hat with UPF: Wearing hats with Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) can help to block a significant amount of UV radiation, safeguarding your hair and scalp.
  4. Avoid harsh chemicals: Avoid using hair products containing sulfates, parabens, and silicones. These substances can strip your hair of its natural defenses, increasing its vulnerability to UV rays. Instead, opt for gentler, nourishing formulas that bolster your hair’s resilience against the sun.
  5. Keep your hair hydrated: The regular use of hydrating masks and deep conditioners can help maintain your hair’s moisture balance. Living Proof’s PhD Weightless Mask provides hydration without weighing your hair down. Our Restore Repair Mask repairs dry, damaged hair, making it 20x stronger with 95% less breakage. For combating frizz, the No Frizz Intense Moisture Mask is your go-to. Lastly, for a hydration boost on dry hair, try the Healthy Hair Perfector — it also adds shine and UV protection.
  6. Seek shade: Spend time in shady areas during outdoor activities to reduce direct sun exposure on your hair, since shade provides a natural defense against UV rays.
an asian woman sitting in the shade wearing a burnt orange blouse with a white pattern on it
  1. Time sun exposure: The sun is most intense between 10 am and 2 pm. Limit sun exposure during these hours, especially if you’re not wearing a hat or using protective hair products.

8 Top Tips for Summer Haircare

Summer brings its own unique set of challenges for hair health. Here are our top tips, based on expert advice, for maintaining your hair’s vitality during the sunniest season:

  1. Use sulfate-free shampoo: Sweating is part and parcel of summer, but you don’t need harsh shampoos to keep your scalp clean. Sulfate-free shampoos from Living Proof will effectively cleanse your scalp while preserving your hair’s natural oils. Explore our range of shampoos.
  2. Stay hydrated: When your body’s hydration levels are low, it naturally directs available moisture to essential functions, which can potentially leave your hair undernourished. Maintain your hair’s natural moisture by drinking plenty of water.
  3. Rinse hair after swimming: After a dip in chlorinated pools or saltwater, be sure to rinse your hair. These water sources can dry out your hair, and a quick rinse can help mitigate the effects.
  4. Avoid pre-vacation hair coloring: The sun and pool water can fade color-treated hair. Consider holding off on refreshing your color until after your sun-soaked getaway.
  5. Wear a swim cap: If you’re planning to spend a lot of time in the water, consider wearing a swim cap. It’s an effective method to protect your hair from the drying effects of chlorinated water in swimming pools and the potential damage from saltwater.
  6. Use a protective style: Adopting a protective hairstyle is an effective method of minimizing your hair’s exposure to damaging elements like UV rays. These styles, which include braids, twists, updos, and weaves, help maintain natural moisture levels and reduce breakage by keeping the more vulnerable ends of the hair tucked away. This is especially important for natural, curly, and coily hair types.
  7. Use a heat protection spray: Shield your hair from heat damage with Living Proof’s Restore Perfecting Spray or the PhD Heat Styling Spray. These sprays not only protect from heat but also condition and smooth your hair.
  8. Use an anti-frizz spray: Keep your hair sleek with an anti-frizz spray. Our No Frizz Smooth Styling Spray and Instant Defrizzer will help tame frizz, even in the most humid conditions.

Navigating summer haircare just got simpler. By using Living Proof’s scientifically-formulated products and following our expert advice, you can shield your hair from sun damage. Each step counts towards maintaining your hair’s health all summer long.

Take the next step by trying our Hair Quiz. It’s a quick, easy way to discover the Living Proof products that best match your hair type and needs.

FAQs

Can the sun damage your hair?

Yes, prolonged exposure to the sun’s UVA and UVB rays can harm your hair. These rays can damage the cuticle, the outer layer of the hair strand, leading to weakened hair structure, color changes, and other negative effects.

What are the signs of sun damaged hair?

Sun damaged hair can appear dry, brittle, and frizzy. You might also notice changes in your hair color, especially if your hair is color-treated. Other signs include split ends, thinning, and a lackluster appearance.

How can I fix sun damaged hair?

Nourishing, scientifically-formulated haircare products can help restore sun-damaged hair. Hydrating masks, deep conditioners, and UV-protecting products from Living Proof can replenish lost moisture, repair damaged strands, and shield your hair from further sun damage.

Should you protect your hair from the sun?

Absolutely. Just like your skin, your hair needs protection from the harmful effects of the sun. This includes using UV-protecting products, wearing hats with Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF), and avoiding direct sunlight during peak hours.