The sun is an important part of our lives, but too much exposure to sunlight can damage hair. The same goes with staying active. It 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? And while we're speaking about it. Have you ever described your hair as feeling like “straw”? Keep reading to learn what does the sun do to hair. What does sweat, and different types of water damage your hair and scalp and how you can reverse hair damage and protect your hair.
How Does the Sun Affect The 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 prioritizing SPF protection! By now, we know how serious UV rays can be, but let’s talk about how the sun can hurt your hair.
Sun damage is one of the most common problems with hair. Besides the two obvious signs of hair damage - the scalp is compromised when its exposed to UV damage just like the skin AND the hair becomes lighter when its exposed to the sun. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE my natural sun-lightened highlights but, proceed with caution. The sun rays can cause the outer layer of the hair shaft to dry out and break down. This can cause split ends and hair frizziness. Affecting the outer layer may seem obvious, but it gets worse. If you've been reading our blog, you know by now that the hair is made of three main parts: the cortex (found at the core of every hair), the cell membrane complex (the lipid mix that holds the cuticle to the cortex), and the hair cuticle (the surface that seem very similar to the shingles on your house). UV rays can also break down disulfide linkages, aka hair bonds, in your hair. When hair bonds break, hair becomes brittle, weaker and is more prone to breakage and split ends. This can also cause hair to lose its flexibility and you know what happens to an old rubber band, right? Yup, it snaps! The hair cuticle becomes a rough texture that can no longer lay down flat. This results in hair that tangles easily. The hair can become "highlighted" but your expensive brunette color can also fade more easily. SO, to rephrase all of that, the sun leads to a cascade of hair damage. Sun can 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 protecting your hair, preventing hair damage and they sure aren't repairing your hair. Which means that over time your hair will continue to weaken and break off (and we haven't even talked about how sweat damages the hair yet and hot tools. Oh my! But trust me, the world is not coming to an end. There is hope for your hair!)
So, how do you repair and protect sun-damaged hair? Keep reading to find out.
How Does Sweat Damage Your Hair
Let's discuss the obvious. Sweat produces moisture. When the hair absorbs too much moisture that seems to linger, it can lead to a swollen hair shaft. When the hair shaft is swollen, the outer cuticles are lifted. This causes the hair to tangle more easily. Who else finds there hair in a big ball of knots after a serious, high-intensity sweat session? Ok, I know I'm not the only one even if you're too scared to raise your hand. This is why applying a detangling leave-in hair protectant while you workout is SO important.
Now before we discuss the not so obvious, let's find out what is sweat made of? 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 hair blow drying and using hot tools, then this is like putting salt in the wound (forgive the pun!)
Sweat Contains Lipids and Proteins
Lipids aren’t water soluble, so instead of mixing and breaking down with the water in your sweat, too much sweat can catch onto your hair and scalp and promote the growth of bacteria in your scalp. While your scalp needs a healthy amount of bacteria, to get a healthy scalp, you need balance. Too much bacteria and you are left with inflammation, irritation and flakes. Bacteria can thrive on lipids, so too much of it makes for higher production of it, more irritation and more scalp flakes. 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.
What is Glycation?
In simple terms, glycation is when protein hardens. This process is becoming more familiar in anti-aging skin care because of how glycation can cause collagen to harden and lose its suppleness. You want your collagen to be supple and act like a cushion and bounce-back like youthful skin. Glycation is a process where excess glucose adheres to proteins in the body. However, glycation doesn't stop with collagen. Glycation can harden multiple types of protein, collagen, elastin and even the hair's keratin protein. This process can damage your hair and affect your scalp in a way that causes hair to feel brittle and rigid, leading to more breakage. When keratin is supple, the hair is more elastic and able to stretch without breaking. When it's hard, it breaks. Combine this with the excess water on hair when hair is sweaty where the hair swells, hair cuticles lift, and a ratty tangly mess occurs.
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?
5 Tips for Protecting Your Hair From Sun, Sweat & Your Fit-Girl Lifestyle
- 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.
- Use Save Me From Sun + Sweat hair repair during AND after your workouts. Ok, this tip takes a little more explaining to do. Read on...
Hair care isn’t just about choosing the right styling products to make your hair “appear” healthy. It’s about using the best ingredients for healthy hair that can penetrate the hair to the core and repair hair damage. If you haven't added a bond-building hair treatment to your hair routine yet, you should.
Find out more on how bond repair hair treatments work, here.
Your hair damage at the tips and hair breakage is likely the most concerning hair damage to you, but don't forget about midshaft to the scalp damage. If you really want healthy hair, invest in scalp care. Scalp treatments, scalp creams and scalp serums can promote a healthy environment and scalp fertility that allows your hair to grow better from the start. Aside from our Bond Reboot hair ingredients that help relink hair bonds, Save Me From hair repair products are made with Fenugen that is made from an ancient Ayurvedic herb.
Learn about fenugreek benefits for hair and how Fenugen works better.
Fenugen technology is found in Save Me From's entire line of products because it works so good but to repair and prevent the specific damage caused by the sun and sweat, Save Me From Sun + Sweat hair repair has the best ingredients for sun damage. The following are four powerful ingredients that we carefully chose to fix hair damage due to sun, sweat, and hard and salt water.
Cinnamon Phytoactive Derivative
Cinnamate is a phytoactive derivative found in cinnamon that is helpful in protecting the hair from sun damage. It is called Cinnamidopropyltrimonium Chloride and it 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 gently 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.*
Vegan Hair Keratin
Soy and rice microproteins - meaning they are a small enough size to effectively absorb the hair - are a vegan source similar to hair keratin protein. 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 fruit may sound exotic but it is what helps Save Me From Sun + Sweat prevent dull and 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.
Unlike hair masks that are choke full of silicones that coat the hair shaft with a band-aid like effect, Save Me From hair repair treatments prioritize scalp wellness. Our hair products are designed to be scalp care and hair care in one. Rosebay was added to our SAVE ME FROM Sun + Sweat for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant capabilities that help promote a healthy scalp with less scalp flaking and a balanced scalp microbiome.
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 fix damage caused by the sun and sweat tip-to-root while nourishing a healthy scalp. Our concentrated bond creams transition into silky serums when diluted with water. They last for months so results are seen in just one bottle and they're lightweight for daily use as a leave-in conditioning hair repair treatment.
The Ayurvedic Spice Made from Fenugreek Seed for Hair
Do you need a fenugreek mask for hair? It's worth mentioning the proven hair reparative benefits of Fenugen. Inspired by Ayurvedic medicine, we've harnessed the fenugreek's rich phytonutrients including medium and long chain fatty acids, terpenoids, polyphenols, phospholipids and vitamins A, C and B variety vitamins and paired these with bio-boosters like ubiquinone (also known as Coenzyme Q10 for hair), organic karanja (also known as pongamia) and medicum chain triglycerides (MCT’s derived from coconut). You’ve guessed it, like a Red Bull for your scalp, Fenugen is also a rich source of nicotinic acid (niacin), nicontinamide (niacinamide) and trigonelline. These phytonutrients include niacinamide hair benefits and have been shown to promote healthy blood flow to help enhance the nutrition essential for follicle survival, boost keratin and ceramide synthesis, restore barrier function and empower you with hair that emerges from the scalp healthier with more resistance to damage. Through a patented eco extraction process, we've magnified these phytonutrients into our clinically proven technology. Fenugen possesses the rich nutrients of fenugreek seeds in a complex 5x more potent in polyphenols. These nutrients include Vitamin A, B Vitamins, Vitamin C and more. With daily and consistent, long-term use of this concentrated hair cream (that you dilute into a silky scalp serum with water), hair bonds are rebuilt, hydration is restored helping to reduce frizz, the scalp is energized and nourished from within allowing hair that's more resistant to damage to emerge. Rooted in Ayurveda, our Save Me From hair products are clinically proven to transform hair from tip to root, inside and out.
*Croda Personal Care. Crodasorb™ UV-283. Crodasorb™ UV-283. 2015.