Is Sun Bleaching Safe for Your Hair? - TELETIES

Is Sun Bleaching Safe for Your Hair?

No, whether you have red, brown, or blonde hair, sun bleaching will damage your hair by destroying the melanin and leading to protein loss and split ends (source). Melanin not only provides the color to your hair, it also helps protect your hair (and your skin) from damage caused by UV rays, especially at the lower wavelengths. 

As the sun shines down, it burns off the melanin in your body, but because your hair does not have any live cells, it cannot produce any more. This is why the sun can bleach your hair lighter while your skin gets darker. Your skin reacts to the UV rays and produces extra melanin, giving you a glowing tan.

And as the sun burns off the melanin, it leaves the keratin proteins in your hair more susceptible to dryness and damage, both of which can lead to premature breakage or split ends.  So is it different than chemical bleaching, or is one safer than the other?

Sun Bleaching Versus Chemical Bleaching

Any form of bleaching your hair is bad for it regardless if it is natural with the sun, or chemical with store bought products.  Chemical bleaching presents the potential for damage to the hair, including hair breakage, hair loss, and loss of condition. Chemical bleaching (typically with hydrogen peroxide) causes similar issues to sun bleaching in that it destroys the melanin in your hair. This leaves your hair more susceptible to protein loss, especially when you later go out in the sun and expose your hair to more damage from the UV rays.

But that doesn’t mean you have to avoid bleaching your hair, you just need to have a proper after care routine.  And there are ways to speed up sun bleaching if you want those beautiful blond locks faster.  Lemon or lime juice are the easiest and natural way to do this.

How to Sun Bleach Your Hair Faster

Putting either lemon or lime juice in your hair will speed up the effect of sun bleaching, but won't make any difference in the damage to your hair. The citrus juice speeds up the bleaching process by causing the outer cuticle layer of your hair shaft to stand up, which allows the sun more direct access to the melanin inside your hair.

And while citric acid (like the acid in lemons and limes) is used in shampoos to prevent them from becoming too alkaline (having a high pH), putting the juice directly on your hair lacks the pH balancing ingredients from the shampoo. The citrus juice alone will lower the overall pH of your hair and scalp, which decreases your hair's strength leading to breakage.

Now that you know how to speed up the sun bleaching process, and also that it causes damage, it’s time to protect and repair your hair.

Fixing Sun Bleach Damage to Your Hair

Well getting that sun-kissed look might make the juice worth the squeeze, there’s unfortunately no way to "fix" sun bleaching damage to your hair since your hair does not contain living cells that can be repaired. But fortunately, you can manage it and help prevent further damage. 

Trimming split ends is a good start since it prevents the split from running up the hair shaft. And you can use a high-quality hair oil (even if you have oily hair) because the molecular structure of oils like coconut and Argan let them penetrate the hair shaft to help moisturize and protect it. And look at the hair tools you use including hair ties, brushes, and even the pillow case you sleep on.

Part of protecting sun bleached hair is to not cause extra friction or tension on the hair as this causes breakage. Use a comb instead of a brush, and when drying your hair, use a cool blow dry instead of towel as there is less friction.  If you do use a towel, cotton has more friction than some microfibers, so use the cotton on your body and microfiber on your hair. 

When going to bed, silk hair wraps and silk scrunchies are better than cotton as they keep your hair sliding smoothly vs. rubbing against rough surfaces.  And the same goes for silk pillow cases over cotton and other materials.  As you toss or roll over, silk will allow your hair to glide across the surface while cotton is more restrictive.  

For hair ties, ditch the elastic when you’re sun bleaching your hair.  There’s more friction and more ripping when compared to spiral hair ties, and spiral hair ties can give you a strong grip without as much damage as the coils are easier to expand and work.  That means less pulling and tugging on the damaged strands.

Yes, sun bleaching your hair causes damage that cannot be repaired, but you can also be proactive in protecting your hair after.  Like everything in life, moderation is key.  Did you like this guide to sun bleaching your hair?  Then subscribe to the TELETIMES blog for more content like this post.

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