Sunscreen for hair?

Posted on July 12th, by Helen in Blog, Hair & Style. 7 comments

Sunscreen for hair?

Lightening up your locks can make you look years younger, but summertime can be a dangerous time for coloured hair. Between the sun, chlorine-filled pools, and sea-salt, those highlights are up against a lot of colour-fading variables.

In my salon and spa days, summer was the busiest time for colour services (90% of people went lighter), and one of the most common questions I would get at the front desk was, “How can I keep my colour to last longer?”

Besides using colour-protective shampoos and conditioners, one overlooked product was a sunscreen spray for hair. At the salon I worked at we carried Kérastase—L’oreal’s luxury line of hair products—and they have an oil-based sunscreen spray in their Soleil line that I really liked. It’s called Micro Voile Protecteur ($43,, and you apply it evenly throughout the hair before or after sun exposure.

According to Kérastase’s reps, “sun exposure has negative effects on your hair, which lead to a capillary photo degradation process. Just as we treat our skin from the sun’s harmful rays, our hair needs the same protection against photo-degradation. It is necessary to protect your hair in order to prevent it from weakening, losing its colour intensity and becoming dry and porous.”

They go on to say that the “entire Kérastase Soleil line shields UV rays similar to a sunscreen with a UV filter, known to protect from fibre photo-degradation caused by UV rays. The result leaves hair soft, smooth, and silky due to soothing anti-frizz oils.”

For me, this leave-in spray was a colour-saviour for me whenever I went on a sun vacation. Not only did it act like a light-light leave-in conditioner, it helped extend my touch-up visits by about two weeks (back then I wore ashy/auburn highlights that would predictably get brassy after a month). I wanted to know what a scientist thought, so I asked our go-to cosmetic chemist Louise Hidinger. Here’s what she had to say:

Theoretically, sunscreen is a good idea for hair, as it helps protect the proteins and lipids in the hair from oxidative damage caused by UV radiation. These proteins and lipids are what help make hair look shiny and healthy. Sun damage of hair results in hair that is dull and brittle. This is especially the case for chemically-treated hair (e.g. permed or dyed) which is already weakened to begin with. The best prevention is of course wearing a hat, the next thing is to use a conditioner that coats the hair shaft which helps protect its protein and lipid content. If you are going to use a sunscreen on your hair, it should be a leave-in conditioner (not a rinse out conditioner) with built-in sunscreen.

So the bottom line is, protect your ombré’d tresses with a leave-in sunscreen spray and a wide-brimmed hat.

I’m currently obsessed with this beige and black stripped sunhat by Wallaroo ($48, It adds a touch of whimsy to sundresses and denim shirts. And best of all, Wallaroo hats are made with UPF 50+, a sun filter built into the fabrics that are tested to block 97.5% of the sun’s ultraviolet rays.




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