Exposing your hair to the sun can cause bleaching, brittleness, and split ends. The sun's UV rays break down hair's outer layers, penetrating into the layers of pigment and melanin and sapping hair of its strength, color, and moisture.

To make matters worse, the things you do to care for your hair—washing, shampooing, and blow-drying—can amplify the damage. Most of us over-wash our hair. Unless it's very oily, no more than two washes a week are plenty. If your hair has been treated with a perm, straightener, or permanent hair dye, the sun can severely damage hair and undo the effects of the treatment.

Before you start basking in summer sunshine, try these tips for keeping your hair healthy. Many have the added side effect of protecting you from skin cancer, too.

1. Spruce It Up Before Summer

The best way to keep hair healthy is to start with healthy hair. Have your stylist trim your split ends and consider a few salon- or home-conditioning treatments that will infuse your hair with extra moisture and protection against the sun.

2. Wear a Hat (in the Pool, Too!)

Covering up your hair with a broad-brimmed hat is the best way to block UV rays. Just be sure that the fabric and weave of the hat is thick enough to block the sun's ray. Chlorine is a mortal enemy to hair, so wear a bathing cap in the pool.

3. Opt for Hair Products With UV Protection

Some shampoos, conditioners, and styling aids have UV protection built into their formulas. While the effectiveness of these is debatable, they certainly can help, though you must take care to massage the product deeply into your hair in order for it to work well. If you don't want to switch up a favorite shampoo, you can also simply comb some regular sunscreen through your hair.

4. Keep Your Natural Color

It might feel like the right season to go blonde, but coloring can wear out your hair even more. Postpone highlight plans until the fall, unless you go with a semi-permanent, gentle formula. Permanent color will make your hair more susceptible to damage and will change color in the sun.

5. Choose Sun-Friendly Hair Products

Look for products that contain keratin, Pantehonol, or collagen to help reduce brittleness and make hair softer. Switch to a leave-in conditioner, which can add another protection layer to hair.

6. Deep Condition Regularly

Use a drugstore or homemade oil conditioner weekly during the summer months. These can be applied weekly. Just 20 to 30 minutes of deep conditioning can add back a lot of moisture stolen by the sun.

7. Send Your Styling Routine on Vacation

Summer is the perfect time to cut down on over-washing, styling, and blow-drying. Experiment with lower-maintenance styles that allow your hair to air dry and require less manipulation. The more you leave it alone, the healthier it will be!




Skincancer.org: "Be Fair to Your Hair." Skin Cancer Foundation. Web. 2012

"Protecting Your Hair This Summer." CBS News. Web. Feb 11, 2009.