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Sun Protection Products for Hair

By: Jennie Kermode - Updated: 24 Mar 2010 | comments*Discuss
Sun Hair Damage Protection Sun

Are you careful to look after yourself when you spend time in the sun? These days, most people are - and yet it's probable that you only think about your skin. Hair can also be damaged by the sun. While a sun-kissed golden haired look might be appealing in the same way as a warm summer tan, you should think carefully about how to protect your hair if you want it to be healthy and attractive in the long term.

Basic Hair Protection

In winter months and in northern latitudes, unless you are routinely outdoors for most of the day, your hair is unlikely to suffer much from sun damage. Hair has some natural resistance of its own which can be boosted by using a nourishing, vitamin-rich shampoo. You should not assume, however, that this will be enough no matter where you are.

If you are holidaying nearer the equator or in Australia where the damaged ozone layer means more of the sun's UV rays penetrate the atmosphere, you need to take extra care. The same is true in the summer months even in Britain, and you should also think about sun protection if you plan to spend time at a high altitude, because even if it's cooler up there, the sunlight will be stronger.

Wherever you are, the sun will be at its strongest in the middle of the day. It's therefore a good idea to keep your hair covered at this time. If you don't want to do this, apply your sun protection products mid-morning, so that they will be at their most potent when they are most needed.

Choosing the Right Product

There are lots of sun protection products available for hair, but they are not all equally effective. To protect hair most efficiently, you'll need to look for a high SPF number, just as you would with a skin protection lotion. The problem is that SPF agents are by nature oily, so they may make your hair feel heavy or look shinier than you like. There really is no alternative if you want to protect your hair properly.

When you choose your sun protection product, think about what you plan to be doing. Basic spray-on products are fine if you'll just be sunbathing or walking around, but if you plan to swim, they'll often get washed out. In that case it's better to use a rinse-in conditioner with a high SPF that will bind to your hair rather than just covering it.

For longer-term protection, you can buy special SPF shampoo that will build up your hair's general resistance to sun damage. These are a good idea at the start of the summer or just before you go on holiday, and you can use them in combination with the products described above.

After-Sun Care

Inevitably, there will be times when your hair is exposed to strong sunlight without you having the opportunity to plan in advance. Even if you have used effective treatments beforehand, it's a good idea to give sun-exposed hair a bit of help in order to keep it in tip top condition.

The sun damages hair by frying it in its own oils, drying it out and leaving it brittle. Think about when you fry food and take the pan off the hob. It will keep on sizzling because the pan itself is still hot. You can limit the frying of your hair by rinsing it in cool water or covering it with a cool hat once you come out of the sun.

If you are concerned that your hair may have been damaged by sun exposure, there are special after-sun products you can use. These are designed to moisturise and nourish the hair, and if they are used promptly they will restore its strength and flexibility. This in turn can prevent the further damage that occurs when hair becomes brittle and breaks.

Just like skin, hair should be properly looked after if you want to protect it from the damaging effects of the sun. If you follow these simple guidelines, you can enjoy a great summer knowing that your hair will still look fabulous when it's over.

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