Ways to Protect Your Hair and Scalp From the Sun

You might think that wearing sun protection on your hair is just another unnecessary step in your beauty routine, but according to experts exposure to UV rays damages the hair and scalp just as much as it does our skin. 

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But that’s not all. A quick dip in the ocean or pool when you’re on holiday can damage it too because of the drying effects of chlorine and salt, while bleached or lifted hair is more susceptible to fading from UV exposure. 

Our scalps are very sensitive by nature, so when harsh UV rays burn us, it can be very damaging. We can protect our scalp thanks to things like sunscreen.

Hair also protects us from UV radiation. Since it acts as a barrier between our skin and the sun's rays, our hair follicles can take on a lot of damage if not properly protected.

Hair follicles are really just specialized skin cells, and like skin cells are affected by overexposure to to sun. Damaged follicles can affect the health of your hair and how quickly it grows, so protect your head. 

Sun exposure, salt water, and sweat can pull moisture from your strands, leaving them dry and prone to breakage. Overexposure to the sun effects the protective barrier of natural oils we all have on our scalp by causing blood vessels to dilate and become inflamed. Sometimes this damage causes the synthesis of superoxide, a compound that may cause hair follicles to switch off growth and enter the shedding phase, which leads to ... hair loss!

Tips to help avoid sun overexposure

  1. A wide brimmed hat that covers your face and neck is the best and easiest investment for your skin and hair. Fabric matters, too. According to the American Cancer Society, straw hats aren't as protective as tightly woven ones. What's even better is if you opt for a brand that carries hats with an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) number—they're tested and regulated by the FDA.

  2. If hats are too much, go with zinc oxide. Some sunscreens are designed specifically for the scalp.

  3. Use a natural oil for sun protection. These oils pull triple duty-- *Sesame, Avocado, Coconut and Olive

  • smooth the cuticle

  • add shine and

  • deliver natural sun protection

*Fun fact: Properties found in sesame oil have been shown to protect scalp and hair from up to 30% of UV rays according to NCBI (National Center for Biotechnology Information). Sesame oil resists 30% of UV rays, while coconut oil, olive oil block out about 20%. Coconut oil protects hair from protein loss.

Here are some essential oils that contain a natural SPF: Peppermint essential oil- SPF 7, Tea tree essential oil- SPF 2

My favorite oil is Righteous Roots Oils and it contains the following oils that have SPF protection: avocado, sesame, coconut olive, peppermint, and tea tree.

Tip: Apply oil to damp strands or dry ends prior to sun exposure. The summer heat leaves the cuticle open and more porous, so your hair will absorb the oil.

Antioxidants and plant-derived oils can prove helpful in protecting and calming the scalp and skin from the sun's harmful rays. "Antioxidants will scavenge free radicals caused by UV damage and can help prevent formation of damage that can lead to skin cancer," (Mariwalla). 

4. If all else fails, simply find or create shade. Whether it's from an umbrella, a tent or just from staying indoors, shade is your friend during the summer.