Does the Sun Damage Your Hair

10th Apr 2024

FFOR Hair banner image with close up of woman out in the sun brushing wet hair with comb

With summer (literally) coming in hot, you know that the number one skin-care rule is to slather on your sun tan lotion to avoid sun-damaged skin. There's lots of information about how the sun can damage your skin, but can the sun hurt your hair?

The short answer is – yes. Just like how the sun's powerful rays can damage your skin, they can also damage your hair. We've put together some of our best advice on both how to avoid and how to save your hair from sun damage.


Understanding Sunlight and Hair Health

The sun emits ultraviolet (UV) radiation, which is categorized into UVA and UVB rays. While moderate exposure to sunlight can provide essential nutrients like vitamin D, excessive exposure to UV rays can lead to various issues, including sunburn and skin damage. Similarly, when it comes to hair, the impact of sunlight can be multifaceted.

Pros of sunlight on hair

Vitamin D Synthesis: Sun exposure stimulates the production of vitamin D in the body, which is crucial for overall health, including hair growth. Adequate levels of vitamin D can contribute to stronger, healthier hair follicles.

Natural Highlights: Sunlight can subtly lighten hair by breaking down melanin, the pigment responsible for hair color. This natural highlighting effect is sought after by many, as it can add dimension and depth to the hair without the use of chemical dyes.

Improved Scalp Health: Sun exposure can help regulate oil production on the scalp, potentially reducing issues like dandruff and dryness. Additionally, sunlight exposure may promote circulation, facilitating the delivery of nutrients to the hair follicles.


There are a lot of ways that the UVA and UVB rays that the sun emits can damage your hair. It's important to be aware of the effects that the sun can have on your hair and scalp so that you are able to find the right products and techniques to combat damage.

Lipid Damage – The outer layer of the hair strand (the cuticle) is held in place and protected by a layer of lipids; natural fats and oils that play a vital role in keeping hair healthy, strong, and shiny. When your hair is exposed to high levels of UV radiation, this lipid layer can be damaged, and the result is dry, frizzy hair and an increase in the number of split ends.

Scalp Damage – It is important to protect your scalp from the sun, just like any other area of skin. While your hair is designed to give some protection, it is not always enough on its own. Sunburn on the scalp is not only painful and dangerous in it’s own right, it can disrupt the natural production of sebum, leading to dry, unruly hair. The best way to protect your scalp and your hair from UV rays is to cover your head with a hat or a headscarf.

Colour Damage – Did you know that the sun can alter your hair colour? UV light can act in the same way as bleaching your hair, lightening the colour whether it is natural or dyed. Hair that has been previously bleached will be more susceptible, leading to brassy tones in the hair and a decrease in the longevity of your hair colour.


Identifying sun damage in your hair is crucial for implementing the appropriate care and treatment. Here are some signs to look out for:

Dryness and Brittle Texture - Sun exposure can strip your hair of its natural oils, leading to dryness and a brittle texture. If your hair feels rough or straw-like, it may be a sign of sun damage.

Fading Colour - Prolonged exposure to UV rays can cause your hair colour to fade, especially if it's dyed. Look for signs of dullness or a change in hue, such as lighter or brassy tones.

Split Ends and Breakage - Sun damage weakens the protein bonds in your hair, leading to split ends and breakage. Check the ends of your hair for fraying or splitting, which indicates damage.

Loss of Elasticity - Healthy hair has elasticity, meaning it can stretch and return to its original shape without breaking. Sun damaged hair may lose its elasticity, feeling stiff and prone to breakage when stretched.

Rough Texture and Tangles – Sun damaged hair often becomes rough to the touch and prone to tangling. If you notice an increase in knots and tangles, despite your usual hair care routine, it could be a sign of sun damage.

Scalp Sunburn - Just like your skin, your scalp can get sunburned if left unprotected. Look for signs of redness, tenderness, or peeling on your scalp, especially along the part line or areas with thinning hair.

Thinning or Hair Loss - While less common, severe sun damage can lead to hair thinning or even hair loss in some cases. 


There are a few ways that you can prevent sun damage to your hair. Most of these are preventive actions that you can take to minimise the amount of sunlight that reaches your hair.

Wear A Hat – an easy solution to the 'sun problem' is to stay in the shade. A hat offers a stylish and easy way to bring the shade with you. It also creates a barrier between your scalp and the sun, preventing any possible sunburn.

Avoid Heat Tools – heat tools are known to cause damage to your hair. If you know you're going to be out in the sun, try to avoid using heat tools as this will only maximise the damage. Try a natural styling routine instead – using heat-free methods will help to make the hair healthier and prevent damage from the sun.

Reduce Bleaching – as much as we all love some sun-kissed highlights for our holidays, one of the best ways to stop damage would be to save the bleaching for when you're out of the sun. The sun can alter the colour of your dye, leaving it brassy or reducing the longevity of your colour.


Hydrate and Moisturise - The sun's rays can leave your hair feeling dry, brittle, and prone to breakage. Combat these effects by regularly hydrating and moisturising your hair with nourishing treatments and conditioners.

Choose the Right Hairstyle - Consider wearing your hair in protective styles such as braids, twists, buns, or updos that keep your hair covered and protected from the sun. Not only will these styles protect your strands, but they'll also help prevent tangles and breakage caused by sun exposure and wind.

Limit Sun Exposure - Timing is crucial when it comes to sun exposure and protecting your hair from the sun. Try to limit your time in direct sunlight, especially during peak hours between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. If you're planning an extended outdoor adventure, take breaks in the shade to give your hair a breather.


Fixing damaged hair is never an easy, one-size-fits-all process. If your hair is severely damaged, you should go to the salon for professional advice. However, if you've just got a few split ends or your hair is lacking moisture, we have a few key recommendations that can help to revive your locks:

Use A Hair Mask – A hair mask can be the perfect way to give your hair some much-needed moisture. Our nourishing Re:Plenish Mask is ideal for deep conditioning and restoring some much-needed moisture after sun damage.

Condition Regularly – Upkeep is vital when it comes to healing your hair. Though a hair mask can help give you some instant revitalising, you'll need to keep up your hair care routine for the best results. Using a natural, moisturising conditioner like our Re:Plenish Conditioner, you can bring your hair's life back a little more with each wash.

Cut The Chemicals – When you have damaged hair, you don't want to be putting more chemicals on it. All of our products are naturally made, without sulphates, parabens, mineral oils or synthetic colours and we operate on the belief that clean beauty is best for your hair. You won't find any harsh or harmful chemicals in our products, and they're all completely vegan and cruelty-free.

Avoid Over- Washing Your Hair - Frequent shampooing can strip away its natural oils and exacerbate dryness. Opt for a gentle, sulphate-free shampoo and consider washing your hair every other day or every few days to maintain moisture balance.


Repairing a sun-damaged scalp requires gentle care and targeted treatments to soothe irritation, restore moisture, and promote healing. Here are some steps you can take to fix a sun-damaged scalp:

Cool Compress - Apply a cool, damp cloth or a cold compress to the affected area to help soothe inflammation and reduce discomfort. Avoid using ice directly on the scalp to prevent further irritation.

Moisturising Scalp Treatments - Use gentle, hydrating scalp treatments or masks specifically formulated to moisturise and nourish.

Avoid Harsh Ingredients - Steer clear of harsh hair care products containing alcohol, sulphates, or fragrances, as these can further irritate a sun-damaged scalp. Opt for gentle, sulphate-free shampoos and conditioners .

Hydrate from Within - Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated from the inside out, which can help support overall skin health, including your scalp. A well-hydrated scalp is better able to heal and regenerate damaged tissue.

Discover more with our must have summer hair products!