Using an SPF product on your skin is so important, but it's not the only part of the body that needs protection.

By Rebecca Norris
August 28, 2020
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By now, we all understand the importance of protecting our skin with sunscreen each and every day. What's lesser known, however, is that the sun's rays can have a deleterious effect on hair, as well—which means we absolutely need to protect it. While your hair can't form wrinkles, with excess sun exposure, it can lose its luster and become more brittle over time. To avoid this type of UV damage, read on; ahead, you'll learn everything there is to know about protecting your hair against these rays, according to the professionals.

woman smiling in golden sunshine
Credit: Getty / Westend61

Why is UV protection for hair so important?

The sun's UV rays create damaging free radicals that wreak havoc on your skin, says celebrity hairstylist and Color Wow's artistic director, Joseph Maine, and the same is true for the keratin in your hair. "This can dramatically weaken your hair," he explains. What's more, he notes that these free radicals can also deteriorate the protective lipid layer on the surface of each strand, which is ultimately responsible for softness and shine—not to mention the quality of your color. And that's just your hair. Given that your scalp is a layer of skin beneath said hair, celebrity hairstylist Ryan Richman points out that UV rays can damage that area, as well.

How can I prevent this type of damage from occurring?

Fortunately, protecting your hair against UV exposure doesn't require a lot of work. All it takes is a quality UV-protective product or a protective covering, like a scarf or hat made with UPF. "Treat your hair like you would your face," says celebrity hairstylist and R+Co Collective member Ashley Streicher. "Every day, add a UV protectant like SUN CATCHER Power C Boosting Leave-In Conditioner ($32, dermstore.com), especially on the ends where most damage starts." Because SUN CATCHER is an all-in-one product designed to benefit all hair types, Streicher says that it's the perfect product to add to your regime. "It's light and can be applied to hair wet or dry. Anytime is a good time to add some UV protectant," she adds.

What are some other products I can try?

Looking for some additional products packed with UV protection to work into your routine? Richman loves Monat Color Locking + Protective Spray ($36, monatglobal.com) for its lightweight nature and ability to seal ends against damage. "It protects against UV rays as well as preserves color vibrancy and shine," he says. "The lightweight formula won't weigh your hair down and it combats frizz and dryness. Simply spray it on towel-dried hair each time you wash and style as usual."

Maine prefers Color Wow's Pop & Lock Gloss Treatment ($20, amazon.com) which offers sun protection while deeply hydrating hair; it boosts shine, as well. He notes, however, that these products only perform if you're consistent with use. Just as you're expected to reapply sunscreen every few hours, the same is true for UV protectant hair care. "It's a good idea to reapply every time you dip in the water," he says. And if you plan to stay dry? He says to aim to reapply every two to three hours.

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