Hat’s off to sun protection

Posted on May 24th, 2010 by Michelle

Sitting in sun with hatAll I had to hear to get me to think about sun protection for my hair was two little words:  Carrot Top.

Don’t know who he is? Click on his name or Google him.  Quite possibly the world’s most unattractive comedian.  And that’s what my hairdresser called me a few summers ago when I had the chance to spend most of my days at the beach.  My usual light brunette had faded to that orangey-rusty color usually found ringing old sinks. And it was the texture of a hay bale.

As we’re paying all kinds of attention to protecting our skin from the sun, it’s easy to overlook that which is going to be hit first by the UV rays: our hair.  And that’s not a good thing.  Too much sun dehydrates hair just like skin, fading color and leaving it brittle.

When it comes to my mane, I generally spell SPF “H-A-T”.  I never took much stock in the idea of applying sunscreen to my hair, and the experts like The Beauty Brains and Cosmetics Cop point out that even if shampoos and conditioners contain sun-protection ingredients, not enough will be absorbed by your hair before the product is rinsed out to make a significant difference.  Similarly, they note that the effectiveness of ingredients added to styling products is questionable because they could break down under the heat of blow dryers and flat irons.

Recently, however, the savvy hair-care companies are introducing loads of products specifically designed to filter UV rays.  You spray them on before you head out, just like you apply the sunscreen as the last step before heading out to embrace the day.

Most, like L’Oreal’s EverPure UV Protection Spray (8.99) and Redken’s Color Extend Sun Solar Screen SPF 12 ($16.99), two favorites among Totalbeauty.com users, are spray-on products you can use once your hair is styled or apply when it’s wet.

Paula Begoun’s Cosmetics Cop notes that hair treatments can’t have an SPF rating because it pertains to skin and hasn’t been measured for hair.  The ones we found that do have SPF out front on the label and generally marketed as hair and scalp protection or for hair and body.  Some, like Rene Furterer’s Protective Summer Oil ($23 beauty.com) have a KPF (keratin protection factor) rating, but it’s all a little obscure to us.

The bottom line is this: As much as I love my Red Sox cap, I can’t wear it everywhere in the summer, especially if I ever want another date or a new client.  If using one of these spray-on products means I may never hear the words “Carrot Top” again, it’s worth a try.

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A short history of cosmetics

150BC Romans use yellow eye shadow.

The Romans preferred to use gold-colored eye shadow which was made from saffron and painted onto the area around the sides and under their eyes. Then they used powdered wood ash to color their eyelids black. This gold color was quite significant at the time because they saw themselves as the rulers of the Mediterranean.