Monday, 19 October 2015

The sun; your hair’s dream friend or its worst nightmare?

The sunscreen will be coming out in thick waves this summer, what are you doing to protect your hair?

We’ve had a pretty hot past couple of weeks here in Perth (and by pretty hot, we’re talking over 30 degrees). Since this is only spring, we’re gulping at the thought of the UV rays that will be beating down on us come summer, and of the damage it could do to our hair. 

Obviously the best way to protect your hair is with a hat. However, we also understand that some days your fabulously floppy hat just won’t do, or your hair is looking so darn fine it would be a shame to cover it up. So lets get clued up on how to protect your hair this summer…

How does the sun damage hair?

Let’s start with what a big dose of UV does to the hair. According to WA leading Trichologist Kate Dawes, it ruins our precious keratin cells. “The sun damages the cuticle layer of the hair, which consists of layers of scale-like keratin cells. These scales lift up, causing that dry, brittle feeling.” If that wasn’t bad enough, it will also play havoc with those highlights you just spent a fortune on. “Sunshine will also strip out artificial colour and lighten natural coloured hair,” says Kate.

Healthy cuticle
Damaged cuticle
Pictures courtesy of

Vitamin D = Hair growth

You’ve probably heard that the sun’s Vitamin D is good for hair as it makes it grow, right? Well according to Kate it does, but in an indirect way. “Vitamin D receptors play an important role in a healthy hair growth cycle. Vitamin D activates the cells within the hair shaft that produce hair, so those with a deficiency often experience hair loss. Therefore, the sun can make your hair grow!”

But before you make a break for the great outdoors, remember that direct sunlight onto the hair will damage the structure. “Hair itself does not synthesize Vitamin D from the sun, this only occurs in the skin. So getting sunshine onto the hair will only lighten your hair colour and cause damage to the hair shaft. You need moderate exposure on your skin to produce the required vitamin D,” says Kate. But always use sunscreen and be careful when leaving your head unprotected, as extreme sunburn on your scalp can damage your follicles.

Stay away from…

There are many products out there that can be found in hair “protectors”, but Kate warns that if they contain any of the following, leave them on the shelf…
    Oxybenzone - this can be absorbed into the blood stream and acts like oestrogen within the body.
    Retinyl Palmitate (Vitamin A palmitate) has a reaction when exposed to sunlight and has been linked to the increase in the spread of malignant cells. Eek!
    Fragranceany product with a “Fragrance” in it should be avoided. They contain Parabens (hormone disruptors) and phthalates (very carcinogenic - aka cancer causing!) This doesn’t just stand for your hair, they’re in nearly every perfume on the market!

The best protection…

So what’s the best product to use? “Slick it back into a ponytail using organic coconut oil. This is a natural sunscreen that not only protects your hair, but conditions it at the same time!” says Kate. 

Ok summer, bring it on!

For more information about hair care go to