Remember the time you got a tan or stayed underneath the heat of the sun for a few hours? How about that summer trip you took or the days you spent gardening? You probably remember your skin getting dark, and your hair a few shades lighter than before.
The science behind this lies on the nature of the skin and the hair. Your hair is just like your skin; it also needs protection from the sun’s UV rays. So, before you go out into the sun to get a tan, don’t forget to spray some serum into your hair or wear a cap to cover it.
What Causes Hair to Lighten When Tanning
The ultraviolet rays can cause damage to both skin and hair. Its effect darkens the skin while it lightens the hair. Many would ask how it could happen. The answer to this contrasting phenomenon lies in the nature of the skin and the hair.
The skin is composed of layers of living tissue cells, while the hair is made up of dead tissues.
When exposed to UV rays, the hair shaft expands, breaking the hair’s pigment molecules. As a result, the hair lightens in color. Since it’s only comprised of lipids, water, pigment, and structural proteins, the strands remain in its damaged state until new hair replaces them.
To give you a more detailed understanding, you have to know that there is a process to skin darkening, called melanogenesis.
What is Melanogenesis
Melanogenesis is when the skin cells produce more melanin pigment, making your melanocytes darker. It’s activated when the sun’s rays hit the skin, causing the cells to protect your body as a reaction.
This, however, doesn’t happen in the hair because its cells are already dead. When exposed to the UV rays, it takes the full brunt of the sun. Your hair doesn’t have any defense, so the sunlight oxidizes the melanin, leaving a colorless compound.
Your hair can lighten both from sunbathing outside and through tanning beds. Unlike the skin, the hair lacks UV ray protection, so you need to apply certain precautions to protect it.
Are Tanning Beds Bad for the Hair
Tanning beds use fluorescent bulbs to mimic the effects of the sunlight, and help you get a tan. Just like the sun, the fluorescent lamps release UV radiation, which damages your skin and hair.
Tanning beds lighten hair or damage it, especially when it’s color-treated or permed. When using tanning beds, we recommend taking the necessary precautions to limit overexposure and further damage.
How to Protect Your Hair When Tanning
UV rays change the chemical structure of your hair, causing the change in color. It also dries out and lightens your hair, leaving it frizzy and dry.
Wear a Shower Cap
To protect the hair from becoming lighter, pull it back in a ponytail and wear a shower cap before sunbathing or using a tanning bed. If you’re thinking of opting for a shower cap, try the Tannie UV Protection Bonnet Cap. It’s been widely used by many, and the product helps retain moisture in your hair. It also protects the hair from UV rays that cause your hair to lighten and become brittle. The cap is washable, so you can use it on your next tanning session.
Wear a Turban or Towel
You can use a turban when you go outside or use a tanning bed. Alternatively, you could also wrap your hair in a towel. This way, the material would hinder the effects of the UV rays.
Another way to protect your hair from tanning is to apply a moisturizing conditioner for hair protection beforehand. There are tons of hair-protecting products you can easily buy in stores.
Use Heat Protectants
If you don’t want to wear a cap or a towel on your hair, you can opt to apply a heat protectant product. Make sure to apply it all over before going to your tanning session. Start with applying it on your scalp and roots, down towards the ends.
Tanning beds are great to achieve a bronze, glowing skin. But, you should also always be careful when using a tanning bed.
Taking care of the skin and protecting the hair from the UV rays of the tanning beds are equally important. To avoid damaging your hair, make sure to use shower caps, conditioners, or heat protectants. Through this, we don’t only protect our skin but also our hair.