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Sun Protection For Your Hair

Posted May 18 2013 8:19am

Summer is just around the corner. And for many people, this is a time to be outdoors and enjoy the sun. By now, most individuals are aware of how important sun protection is.  Sunscreen needs to be applied on the face, neck, shoulders, back, legs and other exposed areas. But it also needs to be considered for the hair and the scalp.

How UV Rays Cause Damage 

Energy from the sun will create free radicals from the oxygen molecules on the skin's surface. This occurs as single electrons are lost, resulting in highly unstable compounds. Attempts to restore a state of balance involves trying to steal electrons from other molecules. This is a self perpetuating chain reaction that damages cells. This will impact the skin's collage and elastin, causing the signs of premature aging to occur. Cancer can also be a risk as well.

The effect of free radicals can extend below the surface, causing damage to hair follicles.  Although baldness and thinning are largely determined by genetics, damage from the UV rays of the sun can worsen the extent of  hair loss

Hair Shafts 

Not only can the follicles be affected, but the hair shafts can also face sigificant damage.

UV rays can change the nature of the bonds that hold together the protein within the hair. This can denature the outer layer as well as the cortex.

Many women wonder why their hair seems to be much dryer, frizzier and brittle compared to before. Sun exposure is a very likely culprit.

In addition, the hair can also suffer from breakage due to the overexposure of UV rays.

Sunscreen For the Hair 

One of the reasons why many people don't like to wear sunscreen on their skin is because it is often thick and greasy. And it is understandable that this would be far less appealing for the hair and scalp.

Nontheless, there are now many types of formulations that have been developed to  protect the hair  without an oily residue. This includes leave in sprays and conditioners which can actually coat the hair.

Some magazine articles have also recommended diluting regular sunscreen lotion in a spray bottle, and applying as needed.

Products that actually rinse out of the hair will obviously not be able to offer much protection. Therefore when choosing a product, try to understand or imagine how it works. It should seem logical. If it doesn't make sense, then that would be an indication to look for other options.

As a final tip, understand that there is a difference between physicial sun blockers (e.g. titanium dioxide and zinc oxide) and active agents that work through chemical reactions. Physical sun barriers have fewer toxic risks compared to their chemical counterparts. So this should also be another consideration.


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