A relaxed summer doesn’t mean relaxing the rules on hair and skin protection from the summer sun’s harmful rays. The damage it can do can be reversed in some cases, but you haven’t made it easy if the sun has had its way with you.
Unlike the skin, too much sun on your hair can’t cause cancer or even a sunburn, but it is harmful in other ways. “The sun emits UVA and UVB rays that have the power to damage hair all the way from the cuticle to the ends as well as the inner structure of hair,” says Jack Panico, owner of Panico Salon & Spa in Ridgewood. And it gets worse. “Sun damage can cause faded color, dullness and dry brittle hair,” he says. Color-treated hair sees the most damage because ultraviolet rays react with dyes to remove color and quicken the fading process. The best ways to treat sun-damaged hair is to replenish protein and moisture, repair with deep conditioning and leave-in treatments and avoid the overuse of hot styling tools, Panico says.
Protection is key to preventing dryness and breakage, so use a shampoo and conditioner with UV protection. Once a week, try a clarifying shampoo to get rid of buildup and steer clear of products with high alcohol or ammonia contents.
For swimmers, in the pool or the ocean, Gabriela Sussman, master stylist and Redken certified colorist at David Michael Hair Studio in Paramus, also recommends using a clarifying shampoo once a week to remove buildup. For people who don’t color treat she suggests leaving in conditioner prior to swimming or being in the sun because it helps keep moisture in the hair. An end of summer haircut will also help battle some of the damage that has been done.
For those who haven’t been vigilant about facial sun protection, the news isn’t good. “What typically happens is a woman will get that summer glow on her face and love how it looks. But when she loses that glow, around the end of September, the skin becomes dull, skin tone is uneven and fine lines become more evident,” says Stephanie Popper, spa director at Ethos Spa in Englewood. Ninety percent of premature aging is due to the damaging effects of ultraviolet radiation, says Dr. Hardik Soni, medical director of Ethos Spa. The worst news of all is that skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States.
Dermatologists and reputable spas offer treatments that will go a long way toward minimizing the havoc the sun has inflicted. Ethos offers a pearl laser treatment, which helps renew the skin’s surface and minimizes wrinkles, uneven texture and discoloration, Popper says. Chemical peels (like glycolic acid, salicylic acid and TCA peels) can also help reduce damage from the sun, wrinkles and enhance overall skin tone in superficial and medium strength peels.
But, as Popper says: “An ounce of prevention is worth 10 pounds of cure.” Wear sunscreen on the beach, and even if you’re not on the beach, choose a moisturizer with an SPF of 30. “I tell my clients to use an SPF product 365 days a year,” she says. And wear big sunglasses to protect thinner, drier skin under the eyes. If you still really want that sun-kissed glow, Popper suggests using a bronzer or tinted moisturizer.