There is nothing like being out in the hot sun...to wreck your hair. Whether you are spending a relaxing day at the beach, out in the garden, or playing with your kids, the sun can really do a job on your hair. This is known as oxidization, and it is the same process that put those nice blonde highlights in your hair as a teenager. However, what it is really doing is damage to your hair - the reason your hair got lighter is that the hair shaft was damaged and couldn't hold its original pigment. Add to that chemical processes like perming and coloring, as well as styling processes like flat-ironing and blow-drying, and an afternoon in the sun can ruin the great hair you've worked (and paid) so dearly for. But you certainly don't need to hide in the house to keep your great hair. Follow these steps to protect your hair from the sun:
- Get a good hat. Seems simple, but it's your best line of defense in protecting your hair. If you can put your hair up and truly cover all of it with the hat, all the better. If you are looking to protect your skin as well, get a wide-brimmed hat to shade your face.
- Put conditioner in your hair as a barrier. You can either choose a standard deep conditioner, or go for a truly deep conditioning treatment. Some women, especially in Europe, use coconut oil - a thick, deeply hydrating oil - to slick back their hair when they are going to be in the sun. Other oils to try are jojoba oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, even olive oil. You can find most of these in a big container at your grocery store pretty inexpensively, with the exception of jojoba oil, which may cost a bit more but is worth it. You can even try mixing a few oils together. If you have a favorite deep conditioner or hot oil treatment, look for the oils in that, and you will get a sense of where to start. The heat from the sun will drive the oils deep into your hair shaft. While it won't protect your hair from all damage, it is so conditioning that it repairs your hair before it can get too straw-like.
- Look for styling products with a built-in sun protection factor (SPF). A lot of styling products - even hairsprays - have SPF in them. Bear in mind that products that contain alcohol can dry your hair out even faster in the sun, so unless your hair needs to be styled, avoid products containing alcohol, or any other substance that would typically dry out hair. Also be aware that the SPF will wash out if you go swimming or sweat - the same rules that apply to sunscreen on your face apply here.
- Put your hair in a French twist. Less of your hair will be exposed to the sun to be damaged if you put your hair into a French twist. Remember that you don't want the hair closest to your scalp - the healthiest hair on your head - to get damaged.
- If your hair is short, find some cute bandannas. Wrap them starting at your hairline like a headband, and leave the pointed end covering the rest of your hair. To avoid looking like your great-grandmother, check out magazines and retailer's catalogs - J. Crew has some really cute patterns and ways to wear them. If you have a square scarf, that works fine. Just make sure the fabric is thick enough to not let sun through.
- Don't forget to protect your hair in the winter. The reflection of the sun off of the snow, coupled with cold temperatures and wind, can wreak havoc with your hair. In addition to keeping you warm, a good winter hat will protect your hair. SPF styling products are also a good idea this time of year. And as a bonus, if you are wearing a hat, you can put deep conditioner in your hair and no one will know!
It's easy to have fun in the sun and protect your hair at the same time. Follow these simple steps, and your hair will stay looking fabulous!