How to Protect Your Hair Color from Sun Damage

Photo: Alexander Stemplewski /Pexels

I never thought much about protecting my hair from the sun until I started dyeing it. (There’s just something about dropping a chunk of change on your hair that suddenly makes you care about it a lot more.) Since then, I’ve gotten all-too familiar with the unfortunate side effects of spending time outdoors—namely dull, brassy color and dry, damaged strands. Not cute.

Turns out, skin isn’t the only part of our bodies that need sun protection. Exposure to UV rays can cause damage similar to the effects of bleach, according to many hair experts. In addition to weakening the structure of the hair shaft—leading to breakage, dryness, and frizz—the sun can also cause your salon-fresh color to fade or develop unwanted brassy tones. Ahead, a few things you can do to protect your ‘do from the sun.

Wear a hat

One of the most effective ways to protect hair from UV damage? Create a physical barrier between your hair and sun with a hat, scarf, umbrella, or other head covering. Especially when you’re going to be out in the sun for long periods of time, covering your hair should be your first line of defense. Bonus: You get to try the latest hat trends.

Using a UV-protective styling product

Many haircare products include ingredients that help protect hair from the damaging effects of UV rays—sort of like sunscreen for your hair. Here are some of the Beautylish team’s favorites.

Oribe Invisible Defense Universal Protection Spray — This do-it-all styling spray not only helps defend hair from all types of environment stressors—think UV rays and pollution—it offers heat-styling protection up to 450°F. A great pick for heat-stylers, or if you love Oribe’s signature scent as much as we do.

R+Co Suncatcher Power C Boosting Leave-In Conditioner — This lightweight mist harnesses the power of skincare superhero vitamin C to combat the effects of oxidation on hair. Even better, it’s packed with hyaluronic acid, collagen, and coconut oil for instantly soft, smooth strands.

SACHAJUAN Hair in the Sun — If your summer plans include trips to the pool or beach, this UV-protective cream is a must. It’s enriched with UV filters that stay in your hair even after a dip in the ocean.

Bumble and bumble. Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil Finishing Spray — Toss this weightless finishing spray into your bag for UV protection on the go. The water-free formula won’t mess up whatever style you have going on—it just adds light shine and frizz-control.

Try a toning mask

If the damage is already done and your hair color is starting to look “off”, it’s time to tone. I always have Christophe Robin’s Shade Variation Mask on hand—the Baby Blonde and Ash Brown varieties are perfect for neutralizing the warm, red, and yellow tones that tend to come out in my hair after a day in the sun. You can also try adding toning drops to your favorite conditioner or mask—I love IGK’s Mixed Feelings Leave-In Toning Drops, which come in purple and blue options.

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