Updated: Aug 21, 2019
The great British weather has been, well, actually great. Temperatures have soared and the predictions are that we are in for a long hot summer.
No doubt you will all be regularly topping up the sun cream and rightly so, but what about protecting your hair? Have you ever wondered why hair loses its colour and shine during summer?
Just like our skin, our hair is also exposed to high-intensity UV light and we readily accept that sunlight bleaches hair. But this is not the only culprit, we also tend to go swimming a lot more during the summer months and whether that is in the sea or a pool, this can cause the hairs structure to be damaged.
The science bit
Hair is made up of cells and just like our skin cells, these require moisture. When hair lacks moisture, lipids are lost and the protein structure deteriorates. The result is porous hair and faded colour.
Fun in the sun
High energy UV light impacts the hair in two ways. UVA, UVB and visible radiation breakdown melanin, the natural pigment in hair. Just like in our skin, melanin acts as a natural UV filter but it gets damaged in the process. This is what causes the fading of both natural and coloured hair and is called photobleaching.
In addition, UV radiation reacts with metal residues on the hair leading to the formation of free radicals that damage the hair protein structure, which results in a weakening of the hair and a change in its surface shield, the cuticle.
Going for a dip
Whether you opt for a dip in the sea or are more of a pool person, you may find that your hair will lack shine and flexibility after continued exposure.
We all understand that chlorine is added to pools to kill germs and bacteria and are obviously required for hygiene purposes. But this chemical can have an impact on the hair’s components, physical properties and the electrical charge of minerals bonded to the hair. The direct chemical changes include reactions with the lipid film on the cuticle whose function is to protect the hair, the keratin proteins which form the cortex and give hair its strength, and the melanin pigments, which give hair its colour.
Chlorine crystallization can develop inside the hair and part the hair fibres which results in the hair becoming weak and prone to damage or breakage.
Salt water also has similar drying effects on hair. The natural moisture-lipid profile makes the hair elastic, feel soft and resistant to external influences. Seawater is osmotic meaning it draws moisture out of the hair leaving it dry and porous. The first signs of dryness are difficulty when combing and knotted ends and can leave hair susceptible to further damage.
During summer we often hear more clients complaining of a green tinge to their hair, particularly from clients with naturally blonde or bleached hair. This is due to copper. Chlorinated pools often contain copper algaecides to prevent the growth of algae, this reacts with hair and presents as an unsightly green tinge to the hair.
So what does this all mean?
We promise we are not saying stay inside, and if you do venture out make sure you wear a hat (although sun hats are a very good idea). The summer is here, holidays are on the horizon and we should make the most of them.
What we would say though is make sure you give your hair and scalp a little TLC too.
Our top tips
1. Protect your hair
Just like you use sunscreen to protect your skin against the harmful effects of the suns rays, make sure you offer the same care and protection to your hair and scalp.
2. Clean up
It goes without saying that after a long day of fun in the sun we come back and take a shower to clean off that oily sunscreen and the dirt, sand, saltwater, ice cream etc, but how thoroughly do we wash our hair and scalp? Make sure you use a moisturising shampoo that can effectively remove the residues built up on your hair and scalp.
After cleaning your hair, it is important to condition your hair to repair sun damage and restore the moisture lost through salt and chlorinated water.
We love and recommend the System Professional solar range. The unique HelioGuard complex envelopes the hair to dramatically reduce the harmful effects of UV exposure, while avocado oil provides nourishment and protects against moisture loss.
Pop into the salon or drop us a line and we will have a chat with you and create a perfect summer hair toolkit to keep your locks looking amazing.