You already know your skin needs UVA/UVB protection, but you may not realize that your scalp and hair needs sun protection too — especially color-treated hair, which is especially fragile. “Highlighted hair or overall lightened hair is most compromised because hair is lifted several shades and that makes for weakened strands,” says celebrity hairstylist Mark Garrison. “There really needs to be extra care taken to protect hair from elements.”
He adds that permanent color single process is more fragile than demi-permanent and will oxidize more quickly if not protected. “Oxidize means it will get lighter in color and brunettes will turn a reddish or brassy color. Always protect color-treated hair regardless of what kind of color-treated it is and note that kind of ‘crazy’ colors — like cartoon colors — don’t last long in hair anyway, so extra, extra protection is needed.”
We know that the sun’s rays damage hair, but how exactly? “The sun generates heat and heat opens up the hair cuticle allowing color to oxidize a lot sooner and leaving the hair with loopholes,” says colorist and educator at Mark Garrison Salon Dina Hasanovic. “Applying treatments to the hair that are conditioning will keep the hair cuticle closed so that the color stays locked in for a while longer.” And it’s not only your hair. The sun puts every part of your body at risk for skin cancer, even your scalp. Everyone must protect the skin on their head with a hair sunscreen (see below for some great options).
Allison Gandolfo, colorist at John Barrett at Bergdorf Goodman, says it’s important to realize that as damaging as the sun is so are other summertime environmental aggressors like chlorine for all hair, but especially colored hair. “I recommend using the Kérastase Soleil line, which is formulated with SPF sun protection and swim protection,” she says. Gandolfo says it’s imperative to stay away from any hair products formulated with sulfates and recommends taking a break from flatirons, both of which compromise hair even further.
It’s also worth noting that while the type of protection changes, hair needs to be protected year-round. “Not only do you need to protect your hair from the heat, but also from the extreme cold, which can make hair brittle.” Gandolfo recommends trying a shampoo that will help reconstruct the structure of your hair, like Milbon Repair Shampoo, once we transition out of the warm weather.
Frédéric Fekkai, founder and CEO of Bastide and founder of Fekkai Hair Care, says that when it comes to keeping hair hydrated all summer long, leave-in hair masks are best. A hat, he says, goes a long way, too. “If you plan on doing a lot of swimming, do the hair mask under a swim cap — your color will last much longer and your hair will thank you for it!”
He goes on to highlight specific ingredients to look for when shopping for your hair care products. “A lot of natural ingredients, like shea butter, argan oil, grapeseed oil and sunflower seed oil, are great for protecting and nourishing hair, colored or not. These ingredients are rich in vitamin E and linoleic acids that nourish and strengthen hair and prevent drying out, whether from chlorine or salt. Some oils, like sunflower seed oil, are lighter and can be even found in sprays, while the heavier protectants, like shea butter, are more common in hair masks.”
Hasanovic also singles out the Phytomillesime line. “It’s the new Phyto line and works wonders on color-treated hair in all seasons. It’s rich enough in moisture to protect the hair in the winter, but light enough not to weigh it down in the summer and it fights against humidity. It also has a pre-wash treatment that is put in the hair prior to shampooing and a leave-in treatment that goes in before styling.”
As for ingredients to avoid, Hasanovic singles these out:
Ready to put this advice into action? Here are the best products and hair sunscreens to keep your strands and scalp protected all summer long.