Sunny days are for fun! Pool fun, beach fun, drive with the top of your convertible down fun. When the sun’s out, we are very careful to pull out our bottles of sunscreen to protect our skin against skin burn and damage. However, we often forget that our hair is not exempt from the potentially-damaging power of sun rays.
It is important for us to protect our hair as much as we protect our skin from sun damage, and this is something we need to remind ourselves about again and again.
How sun rays damage hair
Science teaches us that sunlight has three different kinds of emissions: Infrared light, the one we feel as heat, is actually the least damaging to hair. Visible light, the one we see as light or colours, is the next most damaging of the emissions, while Ultraviolet Radiation (UVA & UVB), the emission we cannot see or feel, is the most damaging.
UV light from the sun causes micro-inflammations within the hair follicle and causes the follicles to sustain tissue and stem cell injury, resulting in shedding and increased thinning. UV emissions also create free radicals, which eventually photo-oxidise the hair and break the disulphide bonds between the proteins. Finally, UV rays quickly dry out hair in hot, sunny weather, leaving it frazzled and frizzy.
How to protect your hair
Now that we know what damage afro hair stands to sustain from the sun and how this damage is caused, it is important to learn how to protect your afro curly hair from sun damage.
Create barriers: One great way to protect your afro curly hair is to create a physical barrier between the sun and your hair. When going out, make sure you use a scarf or a brimmed summer hat. This will not only stop your hair from getting the full brunt of the sun but will also protect your scalp from sunburn.
Wear sunscreen: This might sound strange, but is actually very practical. You already wear sunscreen on your skin, so why not use some on your hair as well. This way, you include SPF into your hair routine. If you don’t like the idea of applying sunscreen to your hair, you can use a hair mist instead by incorporating two teaspoons of sunscreen, three drops of rosemary oil, and one cup of water. Put this in a spray bottle and spray the mixture on your hair when you step out into the sun.
Wear protective styles: Protective styles such as braids and weaves protect the scalp and hair from sun damage while you are out and about in the summer. This way, you can also give your hair and your styling tools a break.
Use moisture-sealing products: Make sure to use shampooing and conditioning products that contain glycerine and other moisture sealants when up and about in the sun. You can also add moisture to your hair by spritzing water on it or using a moisturising detangling spray. Moisturising and conditioning products create a layer to help conserve the water content of hair, thus providing some occlusivity and emollience, and filling in and smoothening the cuticle.
We recommend using the LOC method of layering moisturising products and oils as a great way to protect against sun damage.
Summer is beautiful, and a measure of sunlight is good for us all. But sure not to overdo sunlight exposure. Ensure you protect your hair in the best way possible. So, take all necessary precautions; stay beautiful and stay safe.