Come rain or shine

Harm­ful UV rays can not only dam­age your skin, but your hair, too…

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W e all know about the ef­fects of the sun’s UV rays on our skin: a love of sun­bathing can quickly turn into some­thing more sin­is­ter if you don’t take pre­cau­tions. Can­cer Re­search UK (can­cer­re­ re­ported 15,419 cases of melanoma skin can­cer in the UK in 2014. When com­pared with stom­ach can­cer (6,682 re­ported cases) and cer­vi­cal can­cer (3,224 re­ported cases), it seems that more of us need to take care in the sun.

Can­cer Re­search UK re­ported 15,419 cases of melanoma skin can­cer in the UK in 2014

When it comes to your hair, it’s also im­por­tant to take pre­cau­tions. Not only is your scalp prone to sun dam­age and skin can­cer, but your hair it­self can also suf­fer if not looked af­ter. More­over, it’s nec­es­sary to wear sun­screen at all times whether or not you’re di­rectly ex­posed to the sun.


Although the strands of your hair provide some sun pro­tec­tion for your scalp, pro­longed ex­po­sure to UV rays can re­sult in sun­burn, es­pe­cially where your hair is parted. Treat your scalp like you would your skin, and use a prod­uct con­tain­ing SPF to avoid sun­burn – af­ter all, a painful, red or flaky scalp cre­ates an un­healthy en­vi­ron­ment for hair growth, and it doesn’t look too pretty ei­ther. If you travel light, and pre­fer tak­ing just one prod­uct to the beach, try mixing in your usual cream sun­screen with equal parts wa­ter. Pour the for­mula into a spray bot­tle, pop it in your beach bag and use it to pro­tect both your skin and your hair. You can even do this as part of your daily hair­care rou­tine, as Philip Kings­ley ex­plains in The Hair Bi­ble, ‘If you want to main­tain your hair­style, mix some high SPF oil-free suntan lotion with your reg­u­lar hair­spray, half and half. Sham­poo and con­di­tion nor­mally and, whilst the hair is still wet, spray on the mix­ture, comb through for even dis­tri­bu­tion and style as usual. When dry, spray on some more’. For a high SPF, try Mustela Very High Pro­tec­tion Sun Lotion in SPF50+, or Palmer’s Co­coa But­ter Sun­screen Lotion SPF50. For a non-greasy ef­fect, try us­ing pow­der sun­screen. It feels lighter than cream sun­screen, and it won’t make your hair or skin sticky, which is ideal for those of you who al­ready strug­gle with an oily scalp. LUSH of­fers a pow­der with an SPF of 15, which is rich in nat­u­rally pro­tec­tive zinc ox­ide. If you hap­pen to burn your scalp, Michael Price (au­thor of Un­ruly Curls) ad­vises, ‘Av­o­cado can be a great, nat­u­ral so­lu­tion […] Fol­low this with a gen­tly ex­fo­li­at­ing hair mask, which will re­move dead skin while also seal­ing in mois­ture’. Hair­dresser and tri­chol­ogy ex­pert Robert Ea­ton sug­gests giv­ing your scalp ‘a gen­tle cleanse to re­move any prod­uct, salt or chlo­rine build-up and then pop on a nour­ish­ing mask and mas­sage it in. An aloe vera gel can also help soothe the burnt area. Avoid us­ing prod­ucts on your scalp es­pe­cially any con­tain­ing al­co­hol which can ag­gra­vate and dry out the scalp more’.


Now that your scalp is pre­pared for a day in the sun, it’s time to pro­tect your hair. Although hair fol­li­cles are es­sen­tially dead once they’ve passed through the scalp, they can still be­come dam­aged through sun ex­po­sure. Robert ex­plains, ‘It may sound the most ob­vi­ous ad­vice, but I al­ways ad­vise clients to cover their hair in the sun­shine, ei­ther with a hat or a scarf. If you are ex­pos­ing your hair, then make sure you use prod­ucts with a UV fil­ter, many sham­poos and con­di­tion­ers provide UV and anti-hu­mid­ity pro­tec­tion. It doesn’t stop there ei­ther as many styling prod­ucts also con­tain UV fil­ters for ex­tra pro­tec­tion along with leave-in con­di­tion­ing sun pro­tec­tion sprays that hy­drate the hair while pro­tect­ing it from UV rays. While UV rays are dam­ag­ing for the hair, so too is the heat which can dry out the hair and scalp. Make sure you keep your hair nour­ished with mois­tur­is­ing masks and leave in con­di­tion­ers. Avoid ex­tra heat sources such as styling tools which can con­trib­ute to the wors­en­ing of sun dam­age on hair.’ Although it’s ad­vis­able to use sun­screen on your scalp, it might seem a bit ex­treme us­ing it all over your hair. Luck­ily, lighter and finer pur­pose-made for­mu­las are avail­able at all price points to keep your hair hy­drated and strong through­out the day. Bum­ble & bum­ble’s Hair­dresser’s In­vis­i­ble Oil Heat/UV Pro­tec­tive Primer con­tains six feath­erlight oils to help soften, de­tan­gle, and pro­tect the hair against sun dam­age; use it on damp hair be­fore comb­ing and styling to achieve op­ti­mum style. la­bel.m’s Protein Spray com­prises protein-rich jas­mine, sweet pea, vanilla, soy and wheat to strengthen hair – it even fea­tures the brand’s exclusive En­vi­roshield Com­plex. Lastly, Soltan’s In­vis­i­ble Cool­ing Head & Hair Sun­care Spray of­fers an SPF of 30 for your hair and scalp to pre­vent dam­age and colour fad­ing, whilst also con­di­tion­ing your locks. Many of us look for­ward to achiev­ing those nat­u­ral high­lights dur­ing sum­mer, but is it really ad­vis­able to soak our hair in sun­light in or­der to at­tain a lighter shade? Robert clar­i­fies: ‘There are so many hacks and tricks out there that are meant to help you lighten your hair in the sun­shine, but I would al­ways ad­vise stick­ing to get­ting your hair colour light­ened safely in a sa­lon. DIY tricks may seem easy and safe but they can be dam­ag­ing to your hair. Us­ing lemon juice is a pop­u­lar trick, but be warned that due to its acid­ity lemon juice can burn and dam­age your hair. Also re­mem­ber that ex­pos­ing your hair to UV rays can cause hair to be­come dry and brit­tle as the mois­ture is re­moved from the hair shaft. Dry hair is very por­ous and will try to take in mois­ture from the sur­round­ing en­vi­ron­ment which can lead to frizz’.

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