Sun And Hair- How Can We Protect Our Hair From Harmful Sun Rays

Guest post from Dr. Shyamali Singhal, MD

Surgical Oncologist

Founder of Hope & Beauty

Protecting Your Hair From Sun

We all know how important it is to apply sunscreen during those hot, long summer days to prevent skin damage. But did you know the sun can also damage your hair?

If your hair has prolonged exposure to the sun, UVA and UVB rays can damage the outside cover of the hair strand, called the cuticle, says Dr. Shyamali Singhal, surgical oncologist and the founder of H&B.

With the summer months right around the corner, sunnier days are heading our way. This had us curious about how the sun benefits our hair.

We’ve heard a lot about how too much of it can be damaging for our scalp and strands, but we wanted to know if it offered any assistance on our locks we may not have known about.

Turns out, there are a few ways the sun benefits our hair without causing too much harm.

SPF And How It Works In Hair Protection

The SPF means “sun protection factor” – meaning the number of rays the sunscreen blocks. SPF 15 means that 1/15th of the burning radiation will reach the skin, assuming sunscreen is applied evenly at a thick dosage of 2mg per square centimeter. Similarly, SPF 60, means that only 1/60th of the same radiation will reach the skin or hair.

What Do The Abbreviations UVA, UVB, And UVC Actually Stand For?

Ultraviolet (UV) ray is a band of the electromagnetic spectrum with a specific wavelength: from 10nm to 400nm. This means that UV rays stand somewhere between visible light which the human eye is able to see and much shorter in length, X-rays. UV radiation is present in sunlight, contributing to about 10% of the total output of the Sun. UV are strong enough to cause chemical reactions in compounds, including fluorescence, strengthening the bones in mammals, and various photo effects achieved by photons, particles of light.

The difference between UVA, UVB, and UVC rays is the length of the electromagnetic wave:

  • UVA 400-320nm

  • UVB is 320-290nm

Therefore sunscreens with a “broad spectrum” are those which cover various lengths of UV rays. UVA accounts for 95% of all the UV radiation reaching Earth’s surface that can constitute most of the damage from the sun. While UVB proportion is much, much smaller. UVC rays, however, get absorbed by Earth’s ozone layer and therefore are not something we consider in this overview.

When it comes to looking at the aftermath of too much sun exposure, it’s fair to say that we often neglect the condition of our hair post-summer. Equally sensitive to the sun as our skin, our hair most certainly needs a detox this time of year as we head into a cooler season.

Exposure To Direct Sunlight

Exposure to direct sunlight not only damages the hair cuticle but also breaks down keratin – a natural protein found in hair. This damaged protein lets heat and sun penetrate the hair much faster and results in dull, damaged and brittle hair.

It might seem obvious that the part of your body closest to the sun—your head—would be most vulnerable to its damaging rays, but we often find ourselves lacking when it comes to protecting our hair and scalp, at least compared to the skin on our face. Granted, it’s pretty simple to add a layer of SPF after our daily moisturizer, but it’s time we all started to pay due attention to the top of our heads as well, regardless of skin tone or hair type.

Your hair is particularly vulnerable to sun damage if it’s fine or light-colored. That finer, lighter hair lacks the thickness or pigment that can protect it from the sun’s rays while darker, coarser hair usually is oilier, and its thickness, darker color, and oil covering help to protect it. Your hair is also more fragile and more prone to sun damage if you have thin, flat, or tightly coiled hair.

Toxicity Of Some Sunscreens On The Market

Some sunscreen compounds, such as octyl methoxycinnamate have been found to damage coral reefs, however, while titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are not found directly damaging to those, the nanoparticles of these compounds end up in the soil as well as negatively impact marine life. So if you are an eco-warrior, like us – opt for wearing a wide-brimmed sun hat or a headscarf to protect your locks from damaging UV radiation.

Be sure you do this safely, however. Don’t stay out in the sun for too long and follow all the directions on lightening your hair with whichever method you choose to ensure you don’t do too much damage to your locks.

In any weather, Dr. Shyamali recommends using our Cleure Conditioner, a hypoallergenic unscented hair conditioner for sensitive skin.



Dr. Shyamali Singhal, Founder of Hope & Beauty has over twenty years of experience as a Surgical Oncologist, and in that time she has obtained understanding and deep insight into all of the side-effects that radiation and chemotherapy can have on the body of a cancer patient.
“Cancer diagnosis and treatment can cause lasting trauma to patients’ bodies. Often, it has a devastating impact on minds too. That’s why acts of self-care, however small, are so important for all patients with a cancer diagnosis. Taking time – be it a day, an hour or even just a few minutes – to look after yourself, mentally and physically, can help manage the many issues the disease brings”, states Dr. Singhal.
She decided to help cancer patients by applying her expertise in selecting products that are suitable for cancer patients. Her mission with Hope & Beauty is to assist cancer patients as they’re recovering from cancer treatment. Dr. Singhal recognizes how important it is for cancer patients to look and feel good about themselves while they fight cancer, and recover from it.