Whether you’re the victim of the genetic lottery or you’re losing your hair through illness, stress, or medication, you probably do what you can to protect each valuable strand on your head. If so, then you should certainly be aware of the effects of sun exposure on your scalp and hair.

Sunlight is not only good for you—but it’s also vital to human health. It helps regulate your body’s internal clock, boosts vitamin D production (which is vital for bone health), and improves mood by increasing serotonin levels in the brain. However, overexposure to UV light from the sun can cause serious damage to your skin, including premature ageing and skin cancer.

This article outlines the effect of sun exposure on the hair and scalp and how best to manage it.

Sun Exposure On Your Scalp and Hair

The fact is UV rays from the sun can have a damaging effect on both your skin and hair. In fact, studies show that exposure to UVA radiation results in colour changes in the hair, and UVB radiation is responsible for the loss of hair protein, primarily keratin. While melanin pigments offer some protection, UV rays can break these down, too, reducing their protective function. 

Additionally, sun exposure can be a major contributor to thinning hair, as damage occurs when ultraviolet (UV) rays reach your scalp and penetrate past the epidermis or the skin’s outermost layer. Unchecked, UV radiation is responsible for accelerating the ageing process, including contributing to cell deterioration within the dermis—the middle layer of skin that contains collagen and elastin fibres.

The Sun’s Oxidising Effect On Hair Strands

We recognise the effect of oxidation in the form of rust on a metal object or perhaps the browning of an apple when exposed to oxygen. This chemical reaction also occurs within our hair strands when we spend too much time in the sun. 

Prolonged exposure to UVA and UVB rays compromises the cuticle, the outside covering of the hair shaft that protects the more fragile components within. This manifests as dry, brittle hair strands that break easily, becoming unmanageable after a time. The result of overexposure to the sun acts very much like bleach on our hair, stripping the colour, moisture, and protein from it. 

While all hair types and colours are affected by UV rays, fine and light-coloured hair is more susceptible to damage. Therefore, people who already have thinning, fine, or greying hair are at risk of suffering further damage to both their hair and scalp from sun exposure. 

While darker, thicker hair bears up better under the UV rays, it is not immune to the drying effects of the sun. Redheads, blondes, and those with very fine, flat hair shafts are particularly susceptible to sun-damaged hair. 

Several studies have highlighted the effects of excessive sun exposure, citing it as the “most frequent cause of hair shaft’s structural impairment.” ¹  As previously mentioned, melanin offers direct and indirect protection to the hair shaft, but as this (colour) starts to degrade, the effect of the sun’s rays becomes more profound. Another study ² concluded that the effects of photochemical oxidation equate to the chemical processing of the hair, resulting in a reduction of breaking and stretching strength of the hair shaft. 

Once we understand how the sun affects both our hair and scalp we learn that sun exposure combined with thinning hair can lead to even more hair loss. It’s an unfortunate cycle; the scalp becomes more exposed to UV rays as the protective layer of hair thins, and the sun has more impact on the finer, lighter hair remaining making it even lighter and more prone to breakage.

How To Minimize Thinning Hair and Improve Scalp Health

Sometimes the simplest solutions are the best.

  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat if you’re spending time in the sun.
  • Use sun protection products on the scalp and hair, such as sunscreen spray.
  • Use a hair mask regularly that contains a mix of the right proteins and other nutrients to strengthen the hair. 

These preventative measures will certainly assist you to keep your hair and scalp in the best condition possible, but what more can be done?

Prevent Hair Loss Early On

We definitely subscribe to the adage that prevention is better than cure, and especially so when it comes to our hair. Granted, some hair loss such as that caused by male pattern baldness, the side effects of some medical treatments and autoimmune diseases, are unavoidable. But that’s not true for everyone. 

Therefore, if you have noticed your hair thinning, or you are experiencing scalp issues, then we encourage you to talk to a qualified trichologist as soon as you can. There are a host of reasons why you could be battling with hair and scalp issues, and not all of them are strictly medical. 

For example:

  • Chronic stress and anxiety can wreak havoc on our bodies and affect hair growth
  • Bacterial or fungal infections can cause scalp issues which can result in damaged follicles and scar tissue
  • Over-styling and the use of relaxers, weaving and braiding can result in permanent hair loss if not caught early.
  • A lack of correct hair care, a poor diet, and various “lifestyle” related illnesses can cause hair to thin over time. 

Don’t Wait!

If you’re suffering from hair and scalp issues, we urge you to seek help as soon as possible. If there is any chance that your hair loss can be arrested, then we are certain we can assist you. 

And of course, in the meantime, be sure to care gently for your hair – no matter how much or how little – and your scalp. Stay aware of the effect of sun exposure on your scalp, and do what you can to protect these valuable assets. 

Get in touch today for a consultation.

leena solimanleena soliman
06:19 17 May 23
Came here when I had some issues and they were able to help massively! They are not like other claimed trichologist that want to scare you and take your money, they are backed up with their qualification and experience. Reasonably priced consultation, treatment and products!
zoe Innzoe Inn
17:24 15 Feb 23
From my first consultation, I knew this was the right place for my hair.Teresa and Eleanore are very caring. The treatments are also very relaxing and my hair adores their products!
19:01 01 Dec 22
Thank you so much Fulham scalp and hair clinic for restoring the health of my scalp and my hair.Straight talking, no nonsense, friendly and professional advice and if you follow it you’ll see results.They really know their stuff and I highly recommend.
Nico PopNico Pop
18:42 13 Jan 22
Booked the initial appointment as I have damaged hair due to bleaching and I had an itchy scalp on a very small region at the back of the scalp. As a healthcare professional myself I did not expect the trichologist to have a magic wand and cure me in one session. 3 appointments ( almost 3 months) in and buying all products recommended (7 of them - the calming scalp cream is missing in the picture) , my scalp became extremely flaky and itchy to an extent that It kept me awake at night. When informed the trichologist my experience, the only recommendation was to trial the Cade oil shampoo... which caused me further discomfort and irritation.I had to stop using all their products as I couldn't stand the itchiness and inflammation anymore (although used the cade oil shampoo several times). Who would've thought that going to a trichologist you will end up with and super irritated and itchy scalp?!Very disappointed with the overall experience, I felt the focus was mainly on selling their products, booking for treatments and not necessarily helping me with my concerns, especially that the professional did not have any concers re my condition, 400£ later I ended up booking an app with the Dr in order to solve the issues caused by their products.
03:56 06 Jun 19
I really hated my experience at Fulham Scalp & Hair Clinic and I would not recommend it at all. The reason why I visited was because I had concerns about changes I saw in my hair, particularly the amount of hair I was losing at the sides (edges).I booked an appointment which comprised of a consultation + 1st treatment. I had the consultation with the owners daughter who asked me about my hair routine, health, products and also took a sample of my hair to look at underneath a microscope. During the consultation the main points she explained to me were that blow drying my hair was bad, the hair needed to be washed more often and hair grease and oils were very bad for my hair despite the fact I have been using them my whole life and I had a good amount of hair. After the consultation she then washed it with their own branded hair products, steamed it did some light therapy and then braided it. She then told me that I would have to come back at some point for a trim and that her mother (the owner) was the only one that could do it. At the end she gave me some basic instructions about using the hair products, and I also purchased some of their products.A few days using their products I experienced a very high level of dryness to my scalp even though I was using A LOT of products everyday my hair would be extremely dry after a couple of hours. When I called them about it the receptionist answered and said the clinic was really busy and that I should try and use coconut oil despite not even being a qualified trichologist, and the trichologist warning that oils were bad for the hair! At my next appointment for the trim I was treated by the owner, she made remarks about how dry my hair was (even though I was following the instructions and using ONLY their products), and how as a black person I should be proud of my hair and wear more natural hair styles, and throw away the blow dryer. She washed my hair and then trimmed it! Which I had never heard of in my life especially with afro hair because it can shrivel up to virtually nothing so when you cut even what seems like the tiniest bit it is actually a lot, but she insisted that it was the "correct" way. During the trim I found it really humiliating and embarrassing because in the styling room I was sat next to another lady who was also having her hair treated and I just really hated every moment of the owner trimming my hair and also lecturing me in it's damaged state like that. Over the course of 3 months following the instructions, steaming my hair everyday, and washing it once a week and using the products my hair just got worse and also breaking, knotty,shedding, weaker, thinner, and shorter than it was originally at my first consultation. I was really upset, especially as when I contacted them about my concerns they kept saying my hair was just "adapting".I eventually discontinued their advice and products,It didn't happen overnight but my hair eventually gradually got back to how it used to be, by doing the "bad" things such as blow drying, using greases and oils and washing it less often. I feel that Fulham Scalp & Hair clinic are not very knowledgeable in a wide variety of hair types particularly Afro hair. They preach and say blow drying, greases and oils, weaves,wigs and not washing your hair often are bad for the health of your hair yet there are thousands of videos on YouTube which contradict these "theories". I feel they cater more to people with looser hair types and not coarser hair types, the products they sell are also very expensive especially as they do not even contain a lot in them mostly comprise of menthol and water. They also seem to care more about their old customers and do not even ask for feedback from new customers, are really hypocritical of your hair choices even though they wear their hair pin straight. Don't waste your money here, if you are having hair problems think closer to home...diet, lifestyle change, stress etcI wasted almost £300 here with no results, think carefully before visiting this clinic, do your own research first!!!

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