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Sun, Salt, Chlorine: Three Summer Killers of Beautiful Hair

Jun 12, 2019

Summer is one of the hardest seasons for hair. Sun, salt and chlorine represent an unfriendly combination. The hair is dry, brittle and color is faded. Find out how to protect your mane.

We take sunscreens for granted. But while the skin is able to create sun protection itself, hair is completely helpless against UV rays. In addition, the sun is not the only pest. Sun, sea, poolside fun means a glorious time for us, but it’s a horror for hair. Nevertheless, none of us should hide from the sun. Just know how to protect your mane before these “summer killers of beautiful hair”.

1. Sun

Excessive sun exposure can wreak havoc on hair leading to color loss (from UVA rays) and dry out or damage the hair shaft itself through moisture and protein loss (from UVB rays).

UV exposure can break down hair proteins (keratin) and these proteins are largely what gives flexibility, resistance, strength and shine to your hair. Hair fiber consists of 65-95% proteins, so the loss of proteins is fatal for hair. Dryness, reduced strength, rough surface texture, loss of color, stiffness and brittleness of hair are caused by exposure to harsh sunlight. This damage is more intense on the outer regions of the hair shaft, so people with thick hair have more natural resilience against UV damage than those with fine hair, who can experience more damaged hair.

The sun can wreak havoc on colored hair - color fades. Have you ever placed a photo on a table by the window and noticed that it will fade over time? Your color of hair fades similarly. Only melanin can partially create protection from fading. People with dark hair have more melanin therefore their hair is more protected.

It is also very important to protect hair from both types of UV (ultraviolet) radiation. Because every radiation causes a different problem:

  • UV-B radiation - maintains in cuticle area. It’s responsible for hair protein loss and can cause superficial microstructural changes of cuticle. Hair becomes more fragile, dry, dull and brittle, resulting in splitting of the ends. Those impairments are even more expressed in conditions of very enhanced or decreased humidity.

  • UV-A radiation - passes through cuticle and penetrates to cortex. It’s responsible for color degradation and fading and premature graying.This radiation penetrates to the hair follicle, which may affect the increased hair loss in the autumn (after an increased ultraviolet load in the summer).

However, dry hair, porosity or loss of color is the least that should make us worry. The sun can inflict worse harm in your hair. If the sun's rays penetrate the inner structure of hair and disrupt the hair bulb, irreversible damage can occur that can result in hair loss. Therefore, it is not very good that we do not protect the hair as much as the skin in the summer and we leave it without any protection.

Solution:

  • Wear a hat, preferably one that is wide brimmed and covers all of your hair.
  • Reduce dyeing, blow-drying, curling or other heat and chemical treatments.
  • Use special sun hair care. It can protect hair from both - hair protein loss and color fading.
  • Wash gently. For this purpose, the sulfate-free shampoos are better. They don’t dry out and aren’t aggressive to hair color.
  • For repair, the focus needs to be on hydration, restoring protein bonds, and helping protect color and color treatments. Ideal are special summer masks and treatment.

Salt Water

Salt water itself is not so bad. In fact, it can be really beneficial for your hair. The salt contains lots of beneficial elements such as carbon, silicium, magnesium, which can strengthen the hair, reduce excessive grease, remove dandruff and deliver texture. Even in a lot of cosmetic products there is salt in the composition. But why is hair so fragile, dry and brittle after a vacation by the sea? The sun is the culprit! Salt crystals in combination with the sun disrupt microscopic protein bonds and literally pull moisture and shine out of the hair, especially if you don’t replenish moisture afterward. That’s why your hair is so dull, dry and lifeless after your vacation.

Solution:

Chlorine

By contrast, chlorine, as opposed to salt water, has only adverse effects. Chlorinated water can be incredibly drying and irritating. When you imagine that chlorine is added to the water to disinfect and kill bacteria, it cannot be good for us either. And it is not! Short-term exposure of hair to chlorine wouldn’t mind, problems arise only after regular and long-term contact. Chlorine removes the natural protective layer (hair sebum) from the hair and it makes strands more prone to loss of moisture and damage. Therefore, hair is often dry, porous and rough. But that’s not all..

Blondes beware! Everything you’ve heard about chlorine turning your hair green is true. In fact, it’s not a result of chlorine. The culprit? The oxidized metals occurring in the solutions added to the pool (eg. copper). And just copper compounds can deposit a greenish hue onto blond hair. But chlorinated water brings danger to all hair. Colored even natural. The combination of chlorine with sun contributes to hair protein loss and color fading more quickly. Which brings us back to point one.

Solution:

  • Create a barrier. Rinse hair in the shower and use a leave-in conditioner before pool. This prevents it from absorbing too much water from the pool and chlorine doesn’t penetrate into the depth of the hair structure.
  • Immediately after swimming, head straight into the shower and wash off all the chlorine. The early rinsing of chlorine from your hair will also prevent a green tinge.
  • Use a specialized sun hair products. Perfect are waterproof sprays with UV filters.
  • After bathing, wash your hair with a cleansing shampoo or a summer shampoo. These types of shampoos remove the build-up of protective haircare and reduce a greenish hue on blonde hair.
  • If you can use a specialized shampoos for swimmers, that perfectly remove chlorine and help prevent a greenish hue on light hair (eg. Paul Mitchell Clarifying Shampoo Three).
  • And do not forget to moisturize your hair with hair mask, hair oil or intensive leave-in care for your hair type.


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