Advice from the Experts: Do You Really Need Sunscreen for Your Hair?
Before you step outside for the day, you probably make sure that you’ve applied your favorite SPF products, whether those products are makeups, sunscreen lotions, a wide-brimmed hat, or a variety of these. While most people know that exposure to UVA and UVB can lead to skin cancer, few understand the effects they have on hair. If you want to know whether SPF for your hair is a necessity or a myth, the advice from area experts will help.
The Biological Facts
Though it might make sense to apply sunscreen to your hair to prevent sun damage, the truth is that the SPF you put on your face won’t do much to help your hair, and there’s a very simple explanation. When you expose your skin to the sun, the UVA and UVB rays beat down on and damage living skin cells. This leads to changes within the cell that you might notice as sunburn, and over time, those changes can allow for the growth of abnormal cells, or cancer. The cells that make up your locks, however, are already dead. For this reason, you cannot get cancer in your hair, and that makes sunscreen for your hair unnecessary.
What About the Follicles?
Though your hair is certainly and undeniably comprised of protein and not living cells, the same cannot be said for your hair follicles. They are very much alive, and it is absolutely possible to get a sunburn on your scalp – especially if you have very thin hair or a receding hairline. Though your hair itself usually does a great job of preventing UVA and UVB rays from reaching your scalp, many people choose to apply their favorite facial SPF lotion to their parts and the tops of their ears to prevent sunburn and potential skin damage.
Can the Sun Damage Hair at All?
While SPF won’t do much for your hair, that isn’t to say that the sun doesn’t cause changes in your locks. If your hair has never been colored, the sun can cause a lightening effect, and this is where the term “sun-kissed highlights” comes into play. If your hair has been colored, it can still cause a lightening effect, but it is more likely to look faded than sun-kissed. The sun will indeed dry your hair a great deal, which can make over-processed hair brittle and cause it to break far more easily, as well.
Although shampoos and products containing SPF aren’t necessary for your hair, they are necessary for any skin exposed to the sun, so be sure to apply sunscreen to your part, your forehead, the tops of your ears, and even your nape if you have a short cut or an updo. Otherwise, wear a hat or scarf when you spend time out in the sun wherever possible, and if you still want to go that extra mile, or if your hair is over-processed and dry, consider styling products with UV filters. You can find them in most salons and in some drug or department stores, but be wary of ingredients that may add to the drying effect like parabens and sulfates.
According to the experts, hair is just dead protein, and while sunscreen applied to your hair won’t really have any effect, there are things you can do to prevent other forms of sun damage such as color fading and excessive drying. Utilizing a good haircare routine and high-quality products as well as following good practices for taking care of your locks will ensure your hair looks its best all throughout the year – even out in the sun.