When it comes to looking at the aftermath of (too much) sun exposure, it’s fair to say that we often neglect the condition of our hair post-summer, leaving us to wonder why we get into such a frizzy, detangled mess come Fall! Equally sensitive to the sun as our skin, our hair most certainly needs a detox this time of year as we head into a cooler season.
Exposure to direct sunlight (especially for pro-longed periods of time) not only damages the hair cuticle, it also breaks down keratin – a natural protein found in hair. This damaged protein lets heat and sun penetrate the hair much faster and results in dull‚ damaged and brittle hair.
Before we get on to our hair care tips after too much sun exposure, we’ve listed a simple 3 step hair test which will allow you to test your hair for damage at home. By doing this simple assessment, it should help inform what you need to do to restore your hair back to its former glory.
1. Is your hair dry?
Hair that is well nourished and healthy should be very flexible and not easy to snap. To check the strength of your hair, wind a loose hair strand around your finger and try to stretch it as far as it will go. If it breaks easily, it’s an indication that your hair lacks moisture and is in need of additional nourishment as well as a strengthening treatment. Another way to check if your hair is dry and sun-damaged is if you notice several white-tipped ends. A white tip is the bulb that has come out of your hair follicle. Once hair splits like this it will never repair. Products can “seal” split ends cosmetically, but discontinued use of that product will just leave you with white tips again.
2. Is your hair texture rough?
Nobody likes a rough texture when it comes to hair. Silky smooth and soft is what we’re all aiming for here. So, to test the texture of your tresses, gently run your hands over your hair. If your hair feels bumpy, it’s usually down to the porosity of your hair. Normal levels of porosity mean that the cuticle scales overlap and allow moisture to penetrate and retain in the hair shaft fairly easily. Low levels of porosity mean that the scales are so tightly overlapped that they don’t allow for any moisture penetration at all, leading to product build up on the hair surface and scalp. With high porosity levels however the cuticle scales don’t overlap at all, and tend to be raised, which allows water to penetrate the shaft but is unable to retain the moisture – it’s a bit like trying to fill a bucket full of gaping holes with water.
If your hair feels bumpy, dry to touch and coarser than usual, then you have a rough texture which indicates you have damaged hair. It’s likely that if your hair is dry, you will also have a rough texture. Sun damaged hair tends to be coarser towards the top where the majority of sun damage takes place due to continuous exposure to direct sunlight.
3. Is your hair discoloured?
When hair is exposed to the UVA and UVB rays from the sun it oxidizes much like a chemical bleach and reacts with melanin in the hair, causing even natural hair pigmentation to fade, lighten and become dull.
The long wave ultraviolet A (UVA) penetrates deep into the dermis and hair cuticle (akin to the skin’s thickest layer) and the short-wave ultraviolet B (UVB) will usually burn the superficial surface layers of your skin and hair.
If you have dark hair you may have noticed that the hair around the crown of your head has become lighter or that you have brown-red streaks forming. These are sure-shot signs of sun damage (most likely as a result of UVA) and require immediate attention.
Assuming your hair is not severely damaged, the quicker you’re able to resurrect your hair, the less likely the damage will be long-lasting.
Now that you’ve examined your hair using our simple 3 step test above, keep reading to find out how to reverse the effects of sun damaged hair.
Create a weekly repair routine
If your hair is dry and damaged from sun-exposure, a weekly repair routine should help get your hair back on track. Depending on the level of damage and overall hair condition, results may vary with some treatments showing visible signs of nourishment after just one use, whereas naturally coarse hair that is damaged may take longer to reach your moisture goals. Nonetheless, you (or rather your hair) will get what you put in! So, take the time to apply a treatment to your hair once a week, your hair will most definitely thank you for it.
Apply a nourishing mask
We recommend: Moroccanoil Intense Hydrating Mask
All it takes is five minutes a week of indulging in this intensely hydrating mask from Moroccanoil to help revive your hair. This high-performance, rich and creamy deep-conditioning mask is designed specifically to suit medium to thick, dry hair.
Infused with antioxidant-rich argan oil and nourishing ingredients, it hydrates and conditions while dramatically improving hair’s texture, elasticity, shine and manageability.
- Apply a generous amount to towel-dried hair and gently comb through.
- Leave on for 5–7 minutes and rinse thoroughly. No heat required.
- Use 1–2 times weekly.
Use a hair treatment
We recommend: Avlon KeraCare Essential Oils
This exquisite oil is perfect for hot oil scalp massages and hair treatments. Remember, a healthy scalp makes for healthy hair. If you’re suffering from the kind of rough hair texture we described above, the Avlon KeraCare Essential Oils formula is perfect for you. Suitable for all hair types, it
absorbs easily into your hair shaft, leaving no greasy build-up, and leaves locks soft to the touch and full of healthy shine.
For Daily Styling: Rub a small amount between your hands and distribute throughout wet or dry hair. Massage into the scalp and hair ends if needed. Comb through and style as normal.
For Thermal Styling: Apply a small amount to clean, dry hair section-by-section. Proceed to style with a curling or flat iron.
For Hot Oil Treatment: Before shampooing, apply liberally – a scalp massage is great for stimulating blood circulation and encouraging hair growth. Once applied, cover hair with a warm damp towel or plastic cap. Leave on for 10-15 minutes. Proceed to shampoo.
Book in for a Malibu Makeover
If, however, your hair is severely damaged or dry, we recommend popping in to your local Regis salon and booking in for a Malibu Makeover. The Original Malibu MakeOver is a 2-step wellness treatment that helps restore hair to its former vibrancy and encourages a healthy scalp. It’s the perfect salon treatment if your hair is oxidized, sun-damaged or over-processed. Check out our Malibu Makeover article to find out more about this salon treatment.
Reconsider your hair wash routine
It’s quite commonplace to over-wash your hair. Yes, there IS such a thing as over-washing your hair! Washing your hair too often doesn’t necessarily mean your hair is *extra* clean, in fact it’s likely that you’re stripping your hair of its natural oil (sebum) forcing the glands in your scalp to work overtime to produce even more oil. That’s why some of us end up in a vicious cycle of over-washing hair that quickly becomes greasy.
If you’re a gym-goer
If you regularly work out, and the thought of not washing your hair after your exercise leaves you feeling a bit ick, try washing your hair with water alone to remove sweat and light build-up. A shampoo is not always essential, especially if you’re able to regulate the production of sebum oil.
If your hair is dry
If your hair is on the dry side, try washing your hair with a nourishing conditioner instead of shampoo. This little trick is great if you’ve got coarse hair and a rough texture, as it’ll help to smooth down your cuticle scales, enabling them to retain moisture.
We recommend: Amika Kure Repair Conditioner
This reparative conditioner mends and hydrates fragile, damaged strands with keratin and wheat protein. Gently massage a small amount from roots to ends as you would with your usual shampoo. Leave in for 1 to 2 minutes and rinse thoroughly.
If your hair has build-up
When your hair does reach a point that it needs shampooing, try a strengthening or repair shampoo to help protect your hair and minimize damage. Another good option is to invest in a cleansing shampoo that you can use once a fortnight to remove tougher product build-up.
We recommend: Paul Mitchell Shampoo Three
Remove residue build up in your hair from chlorine, minerals and other medications with this deep cleansing shampoo from Paul Mitchell. Perfect for use after swimming or before an intense conditioning treatment, Shampoo Three helps to brighten hair and increase inner strength to help prevent immediate redeposit of product.
- Wet your hair and apply the desired amount to the palms of your hands
- Massage into hair and scalp
- Rinse completely
- A second shampoo may not be necessary due to its intensity and richness.
- Use fortnightly or immediately after swimming.
Sun-damaged hair is no fun. Taking regular care of your hair will save you time and effort in the long-run as repairing damaged hair is much more challenging than regularly maintaining healthy hair. But, take heed of our stylists’ tips above and you’ll be well on your way to having nourished, strong and healthy looking hair from the inside out.
Remember, our stylists are always on hand to offer their expert advice. Pop in to your local salon and they’ll be able to recommend products and treatments to best repair your hair.