Looking after your locks this summer

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OK, so it hasn’t been the balmy British July we’d all hoped for …but there is still time. I have it on good assurance that we’re in the running for an Indian summer in Glasgow this year. By good assurance I mean I still have a glimmer of hopefulness based on nothing but cheery optimism and am more than happy to start stating facts on that basis. With that in mind, and particularly if you’re lucky enough to be heading to warmer climes on your jolly hollys, it’s well worth taking a moment to give our tresses some TLC. If you find yourself basking on a beach, it’s not just your skin that needs protection. Don’t leave it ‘til your hair is so dry and crusty that it breaks when you brush it – prepare it now for shiny locks through ‘til September.

The effect of sun on your hair

Here’s the technical bit. From what I’ve read, it seems that ultra-violet (UV) rays from the sun penetrate the hair shaft and damage its structure, just as it does to your skin. The UV rays from the sun break down the keratin and melanin in the cuticle and cortex of the hair (sciencey) and as a result, your hair is gradually weakened and becomes drier, loses it’s natural shine and leaves it looking dull. In extreme cases it can begin to look straw-like. Not a good look.

UV light also attacks the pigment in your hair, breaking it down, bleaching it and reducing the hair’s natural defence system. Though darker hair (like darker skin) is better protected, if it is dyed, it loses its natural protection. Sunlight exacerbates the damage already caused by dying and bleaching hair. If you’re a blonde, natural or not, unlucky – you’re at the greatest risk in this department.

How to keep your mane glossy ‘til Autumn

In the same way as the most effective means of protecting your skin, the best way of protecting your hair is to keep it well moisturised and covered up. Now, you can do that with a great hat or a pretty vintage scarf and will most likely look a million bucks but if that’s not the look you’re going for, listen in. If the damage has already been done, deep conditioners and oil treatments can help reverse some of the damage, but most likely not all, and dry, brittle hair not only looks pants but can be tricky to style. So there’s even more reason to act now and invest in a shampoo and conditioner that contains a UV sunscreen or SPF, helping shield your hair from the sun’s rays and keep you looking sunsational this summer!

The Top Tips

Deep cleanse. If you’re using lots of cloggy products on your hair, including UV protection sprays and serums, your locks will probably benefit from a good cleanse once a week so invest on a deep-clensing shampoo at the same time as your sun protection.

Protect your parting. Many a time have I got my scalp burnt. It doesn’t half hurt when you try and brush your hair, not to mention the dandruff look when it starts to peel. To avoid disaster, use full strength SPF directly on your scalp where you part your hair. Don’t forget your ears either!

Deep condition. Using a weekly deep conditioning treatment will help keep sun damage at a minimum and keep your locks looking lovely – use one with protein or keratin for the maximum boost.

Avoid nasties. However tempted you are, say no putting alcohol, peroxide, lemon juice, and the dreaded “sun in” on your hair. These products will cause your it to dry out faster and will speed the process of damage caused by the sun. And crucially, may also result in your hair looking ridiculous.

If you’re feeling inspired and in the market for a product or two then here is a selection for any sunny hair occasion:

Wash in your sun protection

These wee handy miniature size bottles are perfect for taking on your hols and contain the UV protection you’re looking for. Charles Worthington Takeaways Sunshine Shampoo and Conditioner, £1.99 each

After Sun for your hair 

Give your locks a treat after they’ve been out in the sun with this revitalizing mask. Works great as a de-tangler too for those killer beach-induced dreads. Redken Colour Extend After Sun Mask, £17

An A-list leave-in conditioner

Celebrities have long been fans of Frederic Fekkai hair products and as they seem to spend a little more time in the sun than us weegies, I’m happy to follow in their more experienced footsteps. Frederic Fekkai Marine Beachcomber Leave-in Conditioner, £20

Hair sun screen

This handy travel mini from Mark Hill has incorporated UV protection and is SPF6 to make sure your precious mane does not fall fatal to sun damage. Mark Hill Travel Size Holiday Hair Sun Protector Spray SPF6, £3.49

One spritz fits all

If you’re packing for your hols and minimizing the number of products you jam into your wash bag, this multi-purpose spray suitable for your skin and your hair could be just the ticket! With built-in UV protection, it leaves skin soft and conditions the hair, whilst protecting against the sun, sand and sea. Clarins Sun Care Spray, £17.50

If you’re feeling particularly crafty, you could even have a shot at making your own hair sunscreen by diluting 2 teaspoons of SPF 25 sun block down with one cup of water and popping it in a spray bottle. Just give your wet hair a few spritzes before styling! Worth a try.

So, the next time you do your big boots holiday shop, don’t forget to pick up a shampoo with UV protectors at the same time as your sun cream. Your crowning glory needs to remain glorious!