Everyone wants beautiful flawless glowing skin and god-like hair, this is why the beauty industry has seen a significant amount of growth within the past few years with novel brands popping up each year like whack-a-mole!
During my unruly time spent endlessly at home, I figured out what better way to spend it than performing my own research on issues affecting my body, possibly even conducting my own mad scientist experiments while I’m at it.
And to say the least, it’s been rather fun and informative.
I’ve always noticed how often my hair color tends to fade out within the course of the week, going from jet black to brownish. Sure after a good hair mask treatment, my color would be revived, but it eventually fades out again! Now my hair is natural, and I have never dyed it before. However, I am 100% positive that that brownish hair is not my true color primarily because it looks obviously faded!
Being a perpetual outdoor junkie, I had the suspicion that my lifestyle may be responsible for my problem, so I went ahead and did some digging.
In this blog post, I would be sharing with you why I really came to make escaping the midday sun a life priority!
The sun vs your hair
Before we dive in, let’s quickly recap what is SPF, what is UV rays, the difference between UVA, UVB, and UVC (and uncovering the reasons why we don’t get to read much about those).
The SPF denotes “sun protecting factor” – meaning the number of rays the sunscreen block. E.g. SPF 15 means, that 1/15th of the burning radiation will reach the skin, assuming sunscreen is applied evenly at a thick dosage of 2mg per square centimeter. Similarly, SPF 60, means that only 1/60th of the same radiation will reach the skin or hair.
Deciphering UVA, UVB and UVC
Ultraviolet (UV) ray is a band of the electromagnetic spectrum with a specific wavelength: from 10nm to 400nm. This means that UV rays stand somewhere between visible light which the human eye is able to see and much shorter in length, X-rays. UV radiation is present in sunlight, contributing to about 10% of the total output of the Sun. UV is strong enough to cause chemical reactions in compounds, including fluorescence, strengthening the bones in mammals, and various photo effects achieved by photons, particles of light.
The difference between UVA, UVB, and UVC rays is the length of the electromagnetic wave:
- UVA 400-320nm
- UVB is 320-290nm
Therefore sunscreens with a “broad spectrum” are those which cover various lengths of UV-rays. UVA accounts for 95% of all the UV radiation reaching Earth’s surface that can constitute most of the damage from the sun. While UVB proportion is much, much smaller. UVC rays, however, get absorbed by Earth’s ozone layer and therefore are not something we consider in this overview.
Effect of UV sun damage on hair
The hair shaft is a nonliving cell and, thus unlike skin cells, it requires no protection from carcinogenesis commonly caused by ultraviolet (UV) radiation on the skin. Simply put, you cannot have cancerous hair fibers – carcinogenesis in a hair shaft itself is not currently considered possible. If hair proteins in the shaft are altered by sun exposure, damaged hair can be removed and replaced by new hair.
However, UV radiation damages hair lipids, so photodamaged hair is dry and dull, as sunlight damages disulfide bonds – the protein links that create elasticity and essentially “holds your hair shaft together”. In addition, color-treated hair, already deprived of its natural moisture is more likely to dry and become brittle after exposure to the sun. Hair devoid of natural lipids, is subject to static electricity, fractures easily and appears frizzy.
Vulnerability of colour-treated hair
Human hair naturally contains two pigments: eumelanin and pheomelanin. Both are accountable for brown/black and red/yellow hues in our hair respectively and both get affected by UV rays. Another melanin, called oxymelanin, is found in unprocessed human hair that has been exposed to the sun. It is a similar compound found in bleached hair, as well. The amount of oxymelanin affects the value of the hair as well as causing photo-aging. This leads to natural “summer highlights” amongst those of us with untreated virgin hair.
The sun’s rays act very much like bleach on hair, says dermatologist Wilma Bergfeld, MD. Bleach reacts with the melanin in the hair and removes the color in an irreversible chemical reaction. Bleach also damages the hair’s cuticle and protein, which is called keratin.
Finer, lighter hair lacks the thickness or pigment that can protect it from the sun’s rays, Dr. Bergfeld says. Darker, coarser hair usually is oilier, and its thickness, darker color, and oil covering help to protect it. African-American or African hair is fragile due to its shape, which is thin, flat, and tightly coiled, Dr. Bergfeld says.
Making matters worse
Hot flat irons or rollers, chlorinated water in swimming pools or lightening your hair, this damage make it more vulnerable to the summer stresses of heat and this damages your hair’s keratin. The damaged protein allows sun and heat to penetrate the hair more easily and results in a fragile hair strand.
“If you bleach or highlight your hair, you’ve damaged the hair already,” Dr. Bergfeld says. “To add to that by swimming in a chlorinated pool, or sitting out in the sun, you’re going to have very significant hair breakage.”
sadly enough, people don’t really take seriously protecting their hair from the sun as much as we do our bodies, I guess since our hair doesn’t “tan or burn, or even get cancer” it’s quite easy to overlook it all.
All though there are currently products on the market that promise sun protection for the hair, I would not really bank on its effectiveness, especially as it is yet to be proven.
At this point in my life having long, beautiful, and radiant hair is sort of like a huge priority to me, especially when the state of your hair is a force strong enough to command respect to you on its own, it is one of the very first things people would notice about you!
The sun versus the skin
The skin uses sunlight to help manufacture vitamin D, which is important for normal bone formation. But sometimes its ultraviolet light can be very detrimental.
Most often than not, people, especially women (me inclusive!) Are more concerned with the aesthetic effects of the sun on the skin than anything else.
Sometimes I think it’s because even though everyone knows that there is is a thing called skin cancer and there are people out there who have it, a lot of us still like to believe that we would be the exception, but so did those people!
Within the skin’s epidermal (outer) layer are cells that contain the pigment melanin. Melanin protects the skin from the sun’s ultraviolet rays, which can burn the skin, and over time, could reduce its elasticity and cause a person to age prematurely. Suntanning occurs because exposure to sunlight causes the skin to produce more melanin and to darken. The tan fades as these cells move toward the surface and are sloughed off.
Too much exposure to ultraviolet or UV rays can cause sunburn. UV rays penetrate the outer skin layers and pass into the deeper layers, where they can damage or kill skin cells. People who do not have much melanin and sunburn easily should protect themselves by covering up sensitive areas, wearing sunblock, limiting their total exposure time, and limiting their sun exposure between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
The sun and ageing
I am always humbled in the presence of older women who have managed to age like fine wine, so I made the decision that I’ll do everything I can while I’m still young to “end up like them”. I made the decision this year to be more of a long term thinker rather than an impulsive one seeking instant results and gratifications! (something I am painfully guilty of). Sunscreens cannot fully protect you from our harsh modern environment, the damage has been done and we are left to deal with it and preserve what’s left of it, two points if it can be reversed!
Prevention is always better and CHEAPER than cure, so while you slather on expensive creams, lotions, and potions, do the significant, stay away from the causes if you can!
If you enjoyed reading this article and would want more contents like this, consider subscribing to my blog so you would be notified when similar articles like this get uploaded!
Here are some of my amazon.com selections!
Every single product recommended here have been personally curated by me and is found to be reputable. These are also affiliated links, meaning if you use them to make purchases I would earn a little stipend but at no extra cost to you.
Banana Boat Ultra Sport Reef Friendly Sunscreen Lotion, Broad Spectrum SPF 50, 12 Ounces. $9.96
PURITO Centella Green Level Unscented Sun SPF50+ PA++++ 60ml / 2 fl.oz Coral reef safe sunscreen, Sun cream for face, Cica, UVA1,2 UVB, Broad spectrum, Lightweight, Sensitive skin, Essential Oil Free. $15.90
Tea Tree Paul Mitchell Hair and Body Moisturizer, 10.14 Oz $15
Curly Hair Products by Carol’s Daughter, Coco Creme Coil Enhancing Moisture Butter For Very Dry Hair, with Coconut Oil and Mango Butter, Paraben Free and Silicone Free Butter for Curly Hair, 12 Ounce.