Have you ever been outside on a warm day and didn't realise just how sunny it would be? Then, you come home to realise your face and arms are a little red? You "caught the sun" or got a little sunburn and now it's time for the aloe vera and to hope we haven't damaged our skin too badly! We all know that UV radiation impacts the skin, i.e. too much exposure causes sunburn, but what about your hair? We don't have hair sunscreen! So, do I need to protect my hair from UV radiation? The short answer is yes!
What is UV radiation?
Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is a type of radiation emitted by the sun and other artificial sources like tanning beds, mercury vapor lighting (such as those found in stadiums and school gyms), some halogen, fluorescent, and incandescent lights, and some types of lasers. There are some benefits to radiation, including Vitamin D creation but there are also associated health risks.
There are three types of UV rays: ultraviolet A (UVA), ultraviolet B (UVB), and ultraviolet C (UVC). Almost all of earth's radiation is UVA with some UVB rays and both radiation types penetrate into the skin and can affect health. UVA penetrates deeper than UVB.
A side effect of too many UV rays is sunburn which denotes short-term overexposure and premature ageing. Long-term impacts of overexposure and prolonged exposure can be blinding eye disease, skin cancer, and other cancer types.
Common advice warns to wear sunscreen (of SPF 15 or higher), stay in the shade on sunny days, especially during midday, wear protective clothing, wear a hat, wear sunglasses, avoid tanning, and check your freckles and moles for any changes.
But none of this common advice tells anyone how to protect their hair from sun damage.
How does UV radiation impact my hair?
According to a PMID article, "UVB radiation is responsible for hair protein loss and UVA radiation is responsible for color changes. Absorption of radiation in photosensitive amino acids of the hair and their photochemical degradation is producing free radicals. They have an adverse impact on hair proteins, especially keratin." In other words, when exposed to the sun, your hair can change colors and you can lose hair protein (keratin).
So, why does that matter? Well, keratin is the structural protein found in your hair, skin, and nails. It maintains the structure of your skin, supports wound healing, and keeps your hair and nails healthy and strong. Without this keratin, your hair looks discolored with dry and brittle strands. Sun damage leads to broken or split ends, thinning, and frizziness. Your hair also loses its shine and reflection and becomes weak and easily breakable.
Of course, these aren't symptoms you want for your hair, so can you protect your hair from UV damage?
What are other factors that impact hair health? What about oxidation and pollution?
Oxidation is simply a chemical reaction when something comes into contact with oxygen or oxidizing substances. Of course, an example we often see is when you cut an apple. Quite quickly, you'll see your apple start to turn brown and look off.
One oxidizing substance is hydrogen peroxide which is used when lightening the hair (i.e. going from darker hair to blonde). As with any type of oxidation, this can damage the hair which is why it's usually done by a professional to minimize that damage.
Another way that oxidation can impact the hair and scalp is via environmental polluters such as city air. The hair, skin, and nails can sustain damage from over-exposure. But is there anything we can do to stop this damage?
This Photochemistry Photobiology journal article notes a study conducted to "evaluate the efficacy of a multifunctional hair care formulation...containing botanical extracts of Camellia sinensis, Vitis vinifera, and Euterpe orleacea, vitamins, amino acids, UV filters, and silicones for hair treatment and prevention of UV damages." In other words, do botanical extracts and UV protection formulas help the hair recover and protect it from harm? The study found that "the multifunctional formulation showed several benefits of single product acting in the prevention of UV damage and the treatment of hair damage." In other words, yes, special formulations can be devised to protect the hair and scalp from harm.
Can I protect my hair from UV damage and pollution?
The short answer is of course! According to the PMID article referenced above, "Protecting the cuticle is very important for keeping hair shaft's integrity. One can achieve that by avoiding noxious impacts or by implementation of hair care products with UV filters. Nowadays major studies and researches are conducted in order to create hair care products that prevent hair damage." In layman's terms, many companies are taking recent studies on board to put protective properties in haircare products to prevent hair damage, which includes products that protect the hair cuticle from damage and that provide UV filters. So, with the right product, you can undo sun damage and prevent further damage from the sun and pollutants.
Here's a breakdown of how these products protect your hair from UV damage and atmospheric pollution.
Superfood Recovery Shampoo
Abyssian's superfood recovery shampoo contains coconut foam, POLLUSTOP®, and Abyssinian oil. We have already explained the benefits of Abyssinian oil and its uses. Coconut oil is a fast-absorbing oil that tames frizz and heals breakage, so along with the antimicrobial properties of Abyssinian oil and the vitamins contained within, the superfood recovery shampoo is a way to nourish and repair UV-damaged hair.
Furthermore, POLLUSTOP® is a bio-fermented sugar extract that forms a protective layer around the hair. It's also found in some skincare products and it's been tested to reduce damage from pollution and on the hair. Oxidation and free radicals introduced by harmful pollution in the atmosphere along with UV damage, cause protein damage, loss of hair fibre structure, dry hair, brittle hair, and dull hair. Atmospheric pollution adheres to the hair, causing damage.
With POLLUSTOP® the hair is shielded (like a second skin) to screen pollutants and stop penetration of damaging substances. Your hair is thus shielded from environmental pollution and UV rays.
Additionally, our superfood shampoo is natural, plant-based, vegan, and contains no silicones.
Here are the miracle-inducing ingredients in our superfood shampoo that will protect and repair your hair to its full potential:
- Coconut cleans the hair without stripping essential oils.
- Wheat strengthens the hair without weighing it down.
- Frosted mint extract leaves the scalp refreshed and deals with the damage made by UV rays and oxidative stress (which is proven to work in this journal article here).
- POLLUSTOP® which is a sugar-based derivative provides a shield from UV and pollution.
- Abyssinian oil nourishes and protects the hair further.
Daily Shield Superfood Conditioner
To further the good work of the superfood shampoo, Abyssian has a daily shield superfood conditioner which also contains POLLUSTOP®, spirulina, and pomegranate.
It can be used as a daily hair treatment to protect the hair and scalp from pollution particles and UV rays. The moisturizing formula is plant-based, vegan, and silicone-free. It's packed with natural softening oils and botanical extracts that smooth the cuticles of the hair and polish it. The sugar-based POLLUSTOP® technology provides a protective weightless and invisible film around each hair strand to stop pollution and UV from entering the hair shaft and damaging the keratin. Thus, the protein in your hair remains intact as does your hair color.
Here are the superfoods contained in this conditioner:
- Blue-green Spirulina: A green algae that's distinctive in colour. The phycocyanin that's responsible for the colour provides antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which soothes the hair follicles and protects the scalp.
- POLLUSTOP®: The patented anti-pollution ingredient is a sugar-based extract that protects the hair and scalp.
- The superfood blend of pomegranate, aloe vera, goji berries, and prickly pear repair the hair, moisturize, and help fight daily urban pollution.
Protein Shake Hair Mask
Our protein shake hair mask is designed to condition the hair, leaving a smooth and shiny finish – without added silicone, which can leave a buildup on the hair that weighs it down. This conditioner uses olive oil extracts and a natural plant-based, vegan solution that reflects light.
Here are the star ingredients in the protein shake hair mask:
- Citystem (frosted mint): Our patented ingredient is based on horehound extracts designed to create a barrier against pollution and UV rays, removing oxidative stress and preserving the hair's texture and color.
- Castor oil: This oil replenishes the hair of its long-chain fatty acids, moisturising the hair, keeping in shine, and delivering nutrients like Vitamin B3. It also provides healthy elasticity to the hair shaft.
- KeraPlantin™: This amino acid compound formula (plant-based vegan keratin blocks) stops split ends and the Niacinamide rebuilds keratin proteins, reducing scalp inflammation. This supplement protects damaged areas and reinforces the hair's structure (especially after bleaching). It's clinically proven to make the hair 2.2x stronger against breakage.
- Celery seed extract: Helps the colour of the hair stay bright and long-lasting.
- Other star ingredients: olive oil, Abyssinian oil, and lemon.
In conclusion, there are many pollutants and damaging elements out to get your hair – city smog, pollution from your daily environment, and harmful UV rays to name a few – but with the right protective elements on your hair and scalp, you can repair and reverse the damage caused by UV and oxidative damage to the hair. Abyssian Haircare's speciality formulas are clinically proven to provide the much-needed UV and anti-pollution properties that you need on a daily basis.