Does Your Hair Need SPF?

June 15, 2014

Thanks to Miranda Kerr, Emma Watson, and some chic Prada campaigns, sun hats are becoming as ubiquitous as Kendall Jenner selfies. But if you’d rather go to the beach without one, you’ll need extra SPF—for your hair.  Yes, sunscreen for your skin is still mandatory, but now, a growing number of tress experts agree that sunburn doesn’t just hurt your shoulders, it can also scorch your ponytail. 

But how much UV protection does your hair actually need? We asked Wonderland Beauty Parlor’s Michael Angelo (who’s coiffed style icons like Beyoncé and Anja Rubik) to break down a summer hair regimen that won’t break your bank account. 

Determine Your Hair Goals
“The sun’s effect on hair is double-edged,” Angelo explains. “It lightens & brightens natural color and blonder highlights, but it can really wreak havoc on dry or colored hair. The first thing to think about is what kind of hair you have.”

Make Sure Your Scalp and Ears Are Covered
Rub sunscreen into the edges of your hairline, the back of your neck, and behind your ears. If you have finer hair or more sensitive skin, dab some along any exposed parts of your scalp (like where you part your hair), too.  Some companies, like Neutral Skin, even make SPF for both skin and hair, which means you have no excuse not to cover up.

Hydrate Before Heating Up
Headed to the beach? First, use a leave-in conditioner to protect tresses, since extreme sun exposure can weaken the hair shaft and cause major breakage—something that can lead to split ends, frizz, and the frustrating feeling that your hair has actually stopped growing. “I like Paul Mitchell’s Super Charged Moisturizer,” says Angelo, “It’s inexpensive and shields hair against dryness. Just make sure you reapply it every time your hair gets wet.”

Reinforce Your Ends
“Lighter colors and natural hair benefits a ton, color-wise, from the sun,” says Angelo, which means if your locks are au natural, honey brown, or a cool-toned blonde, your hair hue can stand a little more sun exposure. Add a bit of extra protection to your ends, like Bumble & bumble’s new Heat + UV Protection Primer before going poolside, and you’re good to go.

Beat Frizz With Solar Power
The sun can be your bestie,” exclaims Angelo, “If you know how to use it to your advantage. A conditioning masque like Shu Uemura Shusu Sleek will use the sun’s heat to smooth your hair cuticles and protect you from frizz. Oribe’s Masque for Beautiful Color will protect the color a bit from the sun, and deliver healing and hydrating benefits, too.

Never See Red
Of course, sometimes you’ve got to throw your hair some shade.  If your dye-job includes any red tints—strawberry blonde, auburn, even pink dip-dye—or if your blonde hair is the temperamental type that turns brassy and yellow with the speed of a mood ring, don’t risk damaging your color or your hair texture with any added stress. “There’s nothing better than a bun with a hat on top to keep red tints pristine,” Angelo says.  And have you seen the wide brim hats from Maison Michele? They’re beyond—and much easier to tote in a beach bag than a 12 oz bottle of conditioner. 

Photo: Getty Images