How Does Sun and Sweat Damage Your Hair? +How to Fix That
Staying active might help you live longer and feel better, but did you know that sweat and UV rays can damage your hair making it brittle, tangly, and faded? Or have you ever described your hair as feeling like “straw”? Keep reading to learn how the sun, sweat, and different types of water damage your hair and scalp and how you can reverse the damage and protect it.
What UV rays do to your hair
Did you know that UV rays can account for about 80% of wrinkles? When I learned that, my whole skincare regimen went from learning makeup routines to only using makeup with SPF protection! Now we know how serious UV rays can be, let’s talk about how they affect your hair.
Hair is made of three main parts: the cortex, cell membrane, and cuticle. UV rays break down the disulfide linkages in your hair, leaving pores and causing it to lose its flexibility. It makes the cuticle rougher, no longer laying it down, resulting in tangly hair. The extra pores in the hair also result in photodamage, meaning that your color fades. Okay, to rephrase all of that, UV rays make hair stiff, faded, and tangly. Not so hot, huh? Sure, you can use products that will make your hair feel softer and detangle it, but they aren’t repairing your hair. Which means that over time your hair will continue to weaken and break off.
So, how do you repair and protect sun-damaged hair? Keep reading to find out.
What sweat does to your hair and scalp
Let’s start with answering the question: what is in your sweat? We all know the familiar salty taste of sweat, but there is more than salt and water in your sweat. Your body likes to use this process to get rid of toxins and all the other “extras” your body doesn’t need. What an amazing thing, right? That your body knows what to do to keep it healthy on the inside! The problem for your hair and scalp is that now these toxins are sitting there with nowhere to go. When your hair is already damaged due to other lifestyle choices like blow drying and using hot tools, then this is like putting salt in the wound!
Sweat also contains lipids and proteins
Lipids aren’t water soluble, so instead of mixing and breaking down with the water in your sweat, they will catch onto your hair and scalp and promote the growth of bacteria in your scalp. While your scalp needs a healthy amount of bacteria, the idea for a healthy scalp is balance. Too much bacteria and you are left with inflammation and irritation. Bacteria love lipids, so too much of it makes for higher production of it. Bacteria also love protein, and therefore an excess of protein sitting on your scalp is going to cause more problems than the proteins can fix.
Glycation is a process that damages your hair and scalp causing it to feel brittle and rigid, leading to more breakage. What is glycation? When excess and toxic simple sugars are being excreted from the glands in your scalp, glycation is increased. It is well known that skin-related glycation causes the proteins in collagen to harden. You want your collagen to be supple and act like a cushion, not hard. Your hair also contains proteins called keratin that will harden due to sweat, making it stiff and rigid. When keratin is supple, the hair is more elastic and able to stretch without breaking. When it's hard, it breaks. The water in sweat will cause excess swelling as well, and the cuticles to rise, which is the main cause for tangly hair.
What hard water and salt water do to your hair and scalp
When hair absorbs water, it increases the length by 2% and the diameter by up to 20%. When damaged hair absorbs water, it increases by up to 45% making it look frizzy and increasing the chances of strands breaking off. So, yes, we want our hair to be hydrated, but we don’t want it to swell. What does hard water do to your hair? Hard water contains high amounts of minerals. Minerals are important for a healthy diet, but your hair and scalp don’t absorb them similarly, causing build up and potentially hurting the microbiome balance a healthy scalp needs. The same idea occurs in hair that is overly exposed to salt water.
So, what's an active girl to do? Here are some practical tips for protecting your hair.
When exercising, use hair ties that are gentle on your hair.
When your hair is already being exposed to causes of damage, thick and strong ties can cause the hair to break, making it seem like you are losing your hair (when you really aren’t).
Use a wide-toothed comb.
These are not hard to come by and are undervalued in hair care. This is especially important when you want to comb your hair when it’s wet because wet hair is particularly prone to breakage.
Wear a swim cap.
It seems old-fashioned, but swim caps aren’t just useful for avoiding another blow-dry. Swim caps can protect your hair from the damage of chlorine, hard-water, and salt water.
Wear a floppy hat.
Floppy hats look cute, but more importantly they do wonders in protecting your hair and skin from the sun’s damaging rays.
Four Reasons why you need to add SAVE ME FROM Sun + Sweat to your hair care routine
Hair care isn’t just about choosing the right styling products to make your hair “appear” healthy. It’s about using ingredients that will penetrate the hair to the core and repair the damage that was done to it from inside out and tip to root. Your damage at the tips is likely the most concerning to you, and you also really want a healthy root and scalp to promote a healthy environment for your hair to grow. Aside from our Bond Reboot™ ingredients and Fenugen™ technology included in our entire line, each of our Reboots have three specifically chosen ingredients to fix a specific type of hair damage. The following are four powerful ingredients that we carefully chose to fix hair damage due to sun, sweat, and hard and salt water.
Our SAVE ME FROM Sun + Sweat contains a cinnamate derivative (Cinnamidopropyltrimonium Chloride) which acts as a UV-B absorber. This water soluble substance can protect the hair from sun due to its ability to both stay on the cuticle and absorb the UV rays your hair is exposed to. It effectively penetrates the hair from cuticle to cortex, which is useful when you're sweating out in the sun on a run. This particular ingredient fared very well in studies to test hair that was exposed to UV-B damage showing that it kept the hair elasticity, reduced hair swelling, and protected hair from breaking.*
Soy and Rice Microproteins:
Your hair endures copper binding from free radical damage caused by UV rays. This kind of binding makes hair tangly and weak. Most people respond to weak, tangly hair by attempting to comb it out, only to end up with fistfuls of broken hair strands in their brush. That’s not hair lost from the root! That’s hair broken off somewhere that was weakest in the shaft. Soy and rice microproteins help prevent that copper binding, keeping hair strong and leaving it with less tangles.
Japanese Ume Apricot:
This exotic sounding fruit is what helps this particular reboot fight dull, stiff hair. Dull hair can be caused because damaged cuticles will expose the cortex of the hair shaft that contains your hair color. This exposure will cause the color to oxidize and fade away. Stiff hair is most often caused due to too much sweat and glycation. The Japanese Ume Apricot keeps the cuticle from stiffening and gives your hair a little extra bounce, flexibility, and softness.
Our reboots weren’t just designed to work for your hair from mid-shaft down to your tips like other repair hair masks. In fact, we call them reboots because they are designed to repair and protect your hair from the tip of your hair to the root of your hair as well as the scalp. Rosebay was added to our SAVE ME FROM Sun + Sweat as a way to promote a healthy scalp with balanced micro-biomes and battling flakiness.
Active or not, you’re bound to cross paths with sun or sweat, and salty, chlorinated or hard water. Any of these can make your hair dull, stiff, easily faded and tangled. Sun and sweat cause porosity and irreversible hair swelling making hair feel gummy when wet and straw-like when dry. With sun and sweat, the scalp becomes easily irritated and itchy.
SAVE ME FROM® Sun + Sweat Tip to Root Hair Reboot™ is formulated to save your hair and scalp from damage caused by the sun and sweat tip-to-root. Trust the Hair Damage Experts™ to save your hair!
*Croda Personal Care. Crodasorb™ UV-283. Crodasorb™ UV-283. 2015.