Protecting your Hair and Scalp from UV Damage this Summer

Summer is just around the corner, and we are just as excited as you may be for beach days and relaxing poolside. We all know the importance of slathering SPF on your skin while soaking up the sun (and every day for that matter), but we may neglect to protect our hair and scalp with the same rigor. Our hair is also susceptible to UV damage, and sun damage can have long-term effects on the health of your hair. Let’s take a look at the effects of UV hair damage and how to protect your scalp and strands this summer. 

Structure of the Hair

Before we dive into the damage UV rays can have on hair, let’s get familiar with the structure of the hair shaft. 

+ The Cortex is the largest layer of the hair located at the very center of the hair shaft. It is the layer that is responsible for hair shape, texture, and color.5 The amounts and type of melanin located inside the cortex is gives the hair it’s color.1
+ The Medulla is the middle layer of the hair shaft, located between the cortex and the cuticle. The medulla is comprised of loosely packed area of air and cells that can be discontinuous or entirely missing within the hair shaft.5
+ The Cuticle is the outermost layer of the hair shaft responsible for protecting the hair from environmental damage. It is made of overlapping scales called “keratinocytes” that resemble shingles on a roof.2,4 The distribution of these scales largely contributes to the strength of hair.5

The hair, skin and nails are mainly formed of structural keratin proteins (65% to 95% of hair fiber is made of keratin complex).3 Hair proteins are composed of keratin molecules bonded with amino acid complexes that are essential to hair development and structure.3 Hair damage occurs when the bonds within these structures are broken due to stress, chemicals treatments, heat, and UV damage.1,3

How Does the Sun Damage the Hair? 

Prolonged sun exposure is the most common cause of structural hair damage.3 UV damage can cause dryness, reduced strength, rough texture, loss of color, lack of luster, stiffness and brittleness of the hair.1,2,3 There are three different types of UV rays, each having different effects on hair health. 

+ Ultraviolet A (UVA) rays are the most common type of sun ray with the longest wavelengths - 95% of UVA rays reach the earth’s surface year-round. UVA rays can penetrate deep into the skin – and hair – and are largely responsible for photoaging.4     
+ Ultraviolet B (UVB) rays are the second most common type of sun radiation. Many of UVB rays are absorbed by the earth’s atmosphere, however the amount of UVB rays reaching the earth’s surface increases in the summer months. UVB rays penetrate the top layer of skin and are responsible for sun burning.4
+ Ultraviolet C (UVC) rays are the most dangerous form of sun radiation, however all UVC rays from the sun are absorbed by the earth’s atmosphere before reaching the surface.4

The most common hair damage caused by sun radiation are color change, weakening of the hair shaft and changes in hair functions.1 Most of the hair mass absorbs UVB rays while the cortex is mostly impacted by UVA rays.1,2,3 

Because it is the protective layer of the hair, the cuticle endures the most amount of sun exposure and is therefore more likely to experience damage.1 UVB radiation remains in the cuticle layer of the hair and has adverse impacts on the bonds between keratin proteins and amino acids.1,3 When these bonds are broken, it causes  weakening of the hair shaft.1 This may result in hair that feels dry and brittle, breaks easily, and splits at the ends.1,3

When the cuticle becomes weakened, it is more likely to be affected by sun exposure, causing damage to the cortex.1 Most of the radiation that reaches the cortex are UVA rays, which are responsible for changing the hair’s color. 1,2,3 

Melanin within the cortex naturally provides some resistance towards sun damage.2 When UVA rays reach the cortex, melanin has the ability to absorb and filter some of the rays before they reach keratin complexes.3 Color changing of the hair occurs when the melanin is worn down and weakened due to overexposure, resulting in lightening of the hair as a result of damage.1,2  Dark colored hair is more resistant to the sun than lighter hair due to higher prevalence of melanin.2,3 

High humid environments can cause the hair to become vulnerable and increase the chances of damage caused by sun exposure.2 The sun’s harmful rays are easily reflected by sand and water.2,4 That's why when lounging by the beach or pool, it’s even more important to be conscious of protecting your hair. 

How to Protect Your Hair from the Sun 

Protecting the cuticle is the most effective way to ensure overall health of the hair shaft. Here are some easy ways to make sure you are keeping your hair healthy in the summer. 

+Avoid Overexposure 

This may feel like common sense, but avoiding the sun in extended amounts is the most effective way to prevent UV damage. If you do plan to spend time in the sun, try to avoid being out and about between the hours of 10:00 and 2:00, when the sun’s rays are the strongest. 

+ Wear Protection 

A good way to protect your hair when out on the sun is to wear protective accessories. Wearing hats and head scarves are great (and stylish) ways to block harmful UV rays from reaching your stands while also protecting your scalp and face! 

+ Use Defensive Products 

The Mane Agent | Advanced Molecular Bond Repair is your all-on-one product when it comes to summer hair care. The innovative formulation contains the highest-grade clean ingredients that repairs damage, restores hair health, and protects from future damage. 

The proprietary complex comprised of chia seed, polysaccharides, and amino acids forms a protective, yet moisturizing shield around each individual hair shaft – all without weighing the hair down. This powerful formulation is clinically proven to resist harmful UV rays, reduce friction, and increase appearance of hair density and shine.

It also strengthens and restores damaged hair by actively repairing broken bonds between keratin proteins and amino acids within the hair shaft.  This unique bonding agent fills gaps within the hair follicle to increase resistance to water and humidity, reinforce the cuticle of the hair fiber, and slow the rate of oxidation during hair treatments – resulting in stronger, smoother, moisturized hair. 

While The Mane Agent is extremely potent and effective in its hair repair qualities, it’s also extremely lightweight on the strands and easy to use. After shampooing and conditioning, apply The Mane Agent throughout the lengths of towel dried hair and comb through. 

Protecting yourself from the sun doesn’t mean you have to hermit away all summer long, with these easy tricks you can have all the fun and keep your hair healthy. We hope you have a memorable summer filled with lots of pool days, farmer’s markets and outdoor patios – minus the sun damage.  


Nogueira, A.C.S., Joekes, I. & Dicelio, L.E. About photo-damage of human hair. Photochem Photobiol Sci 5, 165–169 (2006).

 Santos Nogueira, Ana Carolina, and Ines Joekes. “Hair Color Changes and Protein Damage Caused by Ultraviolet Radiation.” Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology B: Biology, vol. 74, no. 2-3, May 2004, pp. 109–117,, Accessed 26 Apr. 2020.

Sebetić, Sjerobabski Masnec, Cavka, Biljan, & Krolo. (2008, October 1). UV damage of the hair - PubMed. PubMed. Retrieved April 10, 2023, from

World Health Organization. “Radiation: Ultraviolet (UV) Radiation.”, 9 Mar. 2016, Accessed 14 Apr. 2023.

Yang, F.-C., Zhang, Y., & Rheinstädter, M. C. (2014, October 14). The structure of People's Hair. PeerJ. Retrieved December 29, 2022, from