Monday, July 23, 2012

How to keep the sun from destroying the most valuable part of your hair

Summer is upon us once again. What I love about summer are the extended daylight hours and the warm bright sun.  I'm a July baby so the heated temperatures don't bother me at all. One only thing that bums me out about summer is this, the potential damage that can be caused by the sun.

I'm not only talking about damage to the skin from ultraviolet rays. It's even worse than that. Hopefully by now, each one of us is applying a decent sunscreen to protect our skin on a daily basis.  But what about the part of our bodies that comes in contact with the sun first...our hair.

Did you know of the potential dangers of ultraviolet rays to our hair?  It turns out photoaging which is normally a term we use to describe the leathery skin created by excessive sun, can also happen to our hair as well. There was a study done on a couple years ago on this topic.  They studied changes to the hair after exposure to UV rays.  Particularly they were looking for shifts in the amount of hair lipid present in the cuticle.  Now, if you read my post on 18-MEA, you already know that this compound is a lipid (fat) present on the cuticle layer. It provides a level of protection against damage, creates shine, and helps promote a smoother cuticle which lessens the impact of mechanical damages and makes combing much easier.

Not only are we destroying our blessed 18-MEA when we relax or color our hair,   we're also impacting this precious compound by exposing our hair to UV radiation.  Basically, our hair is being damaged by the sun.   So now that we know this. What are we going to do about it?

Hopefully everyone reading this has scarf they normally wear to bed.  But do you have any scarves that are cute enough to wear outside?  There's are park near my house and, from time to time, I like to take a morning walk.  The difference in my hair on the days I wear my scarf vs. when I don't is undeniable.  I'm not just talking about the humidity-induced frizz, I'm talking about dry crinkly hair.  My hair looked and felt like the sun took it's toll on it. From that moment on, I began to feel really uncomfortable whenever I would spend long amounts of time (hours) in the morning or mid-day sun without some sort of protection.

If covering your hair with fashionable scarves outdoors isn't your thing, consider picking up a couple of products meant to help provide UV protection for the hair.  Aveda has a line of products for this purpose and so does Kerastase.  Neutrogena silk to touch leave in cream also contains UV filters to protect the hair from dryness caused by the sun.  These are just some of the few. ApHogee's gloss polisher has UV filters as well.  Feel like going the natural route?  You can opt to include some natural plant oils in your regimen before you head out for a day of fun and sun.  Oils like macadamia nut, hemp seed, sesame seed, shea butter and coconut oil all provide low levels (under SPF 10)  of UV protection.  So if you know you will be outside for the day, bring a little bit of a sun protecting oil with you to so you can reapply if needed.

Finally, even with the sun protection, I suggest you still have on hand products that contain 18-MEA to replenish the stored lipids that are brutally taken away from you.  I've been using MEA containing conditioners for the last couple of weeks and my hair has been very pleased. I still thought it would be a good idea to pick up a leave-in with this amazing ingredient so I can give my hair this treat between washes.  My next move was to adopt a bottle of Kerastase Chroma Thermique (Thermo-radiance protecting milk).  Meant for color treated hair, Thermo Milk contains both ceramides and the valuable 18-MEA ingredient.

Those two work together to create a fabulously healthy cuticle layer.  The lipids help provide elasticity and shine while the ceramides keep the cuticle layer sealed from damage. Oh, and I learned from the Kerastase site that Chroma Thermique also contains UV filters and can also be used to protect hair from heat styling.  Although it does contains silicones, it's first ingredient is water which technically can classify Chroma Thermique protecting milk as a moisturizer.  So far, my hair is loving this hot pink hair restorer.  Yes, it's a little pricey, but for all the benefits I get, I would say this is probably the most valuable Kerastase product I own.  Let's recap this product's value shall we:
  • Heat protector
  • UV filters
  • Light,water based moisturizer
  • Ceramides
  • 18-MEA
  • Color protector
It's like Kerastase was thinking of me when they created this product.  O.k. I'll stop gushing about the Chroma Thermique and move on.

 The bottom line to all if this is to raise your awareness of the need for sun protection throughout the summer (and pretty much every day).  If you relax, your already depleted levels of 18-MEA (from relaxing) is stripped away even further from sun exposure.  Even if you're natural, the sun will still damage your hair.  Color treated girls, you're part of this too!  Bottom line is that no one is safe.  We all have to protect ourselves one way or another.  When I re-read the details of the study mentioned earlier, I learned that the cuticle damage to the hair was greater in UVB (outdoor sun) vs UVA radiation (indoor sun like in the picture above).  This means that our hair is more susceptible to damage when we're outside vs indoors.   So even those of us who don't go outdoors much are still being exposed to UVA radiation and still must take precaution to protect our skin and hair. I hope we all learned something today and from this learning, I pray that all you will take some type of action to protect our hair and skin from accelerated aging caused by the sun.  Enjoy your summer!

  1. Thanks for posting this. I went on vacay with my family to the beach and my hair is cooked. Not only that, but the salt water danced a jig on it. What do you recommend for getting your hair back to normal after 5 days of salt water dips?

  2. Thanks for posting this. I love the fact that we are in opposite seasons as it gives me the opportunity to plan ahead.

    I have a question. Based on all the Kerastase and ceramide based products you love, which ones do you recommend for summer seasons and which do you recommend for the non-summer period? Cause i've looked through your current posted regimen and you don't mention any Kerastase products

    Thanks :)

  3. @ Deva-My advice would be to condition, condition, condition, like there's no tomorrow. Overnight conditioning, steam conditioning, all of it! Bring some moisture back in the strands and you'll start loving your hair again.

  4. @Stephanie-I live in a warm state so Winter time for me isn't that severe. I visited Chicago once during the winter and my hair didn't know how to act. The air was just so dry. I think a focus for winter would be protecting the hair from the drying cold air. I'd probably go for thick conditioners and nourishing oils. Then I'd likely protect my ends in buns, other protective styles. Then focus on growth as stated in this post: