Hair SPF: The best sun protection products for silky summer locks

Zoe Gunn

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29 July 2022

Because it isn’t just your skin that needs protecting from UV rays

29 July 2022 | Zoe Gunn | If you purchase something via our website, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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very beauty aficionado knows that SPF is non-negotiable. As well as packing a high-powered sun cream when you go on holiday, if you’re looking to maintain youthful, radiant skin well into the future, as well as avoiding the well-known medical consequences of too much sun, you should be religiously applying an SPF moisturiser every morning as well.

But what about your hair? If you’re lucky enough to have spent some time on a beautiful beach recently, you’ll probably have noticed your locks became drier and less manageable after a few days in the sun. The reason for this is twofold. Firstly, exposure to UV rays weakens the protein structure of hair, leading to breakage, split ends and dullness.

 
 

While these effects can be reversed with a good quality hydrating conditioner or hair masque, or may even just grow out on their own, it is actually the skin of the scalp that can suffer prolonged damage to sun exposure. While your hair does provide some protection for the scalp, it is not enough to prevent sunburn when the skin is exposed to sunshine for extended periods, such as when you’re on holiday. The long-term effects of this can be damage to the hair follicle, leading to a permanent effect on the strength and shine of hair, as well as more serious consequences such as skin cancer.

All of which is to say, hair SPF should not be overlooked. But protecting your barnet doesn’t have to mean thick, greasy applications that leave you looking permanently in need of a shower. Just as high-end skincare brands have been putting serious R&D into creating top-quality protective moisturisers, so haircare brands have been turning their attention to mists, oils and serums promising to protect your locks from sun, sea and sand. These are the best hair sun protection products to invest in for your summer holiday.

 
 

Sisley-Paris Hair Rituel

Thanks to its cult protection and anti-pollution products, like All Day All Year, Sisley-Paris has become a go-to for full spectrum sun protection – and its range doesn’t end at skincare. The Hair Rituel line contains a number of UV-focused products but our favourite is the Protective Fluid. This textured hairspray is scented with citrus and peach blossom and is best applied to damp hair for protection against UVA and UVB rays, as well as chlorine and salt water.

Sisley-Paris Hair Rituel Protective Fluid, £76, spacenk.com

Sachajuan Hair in the Sun Serum

Another haircare brand with a full line of pre- and post-sun treatments, Sachajuan’s Hair in the Sun is a lightweight leave-in formula enriched with the brand’s unique Ocean Silk Technology: a blend of minerals and algae that promises to leave hair nourished and soft while shielding from sun damage. Even better, it’s perfectly sized to slip in your hand luggage.

Sachajuan Hair in the Sun Serum, £28, brownsfashion.com

 
 

Nuxe Sun Protective Milky Oil

Cult Parisian pharmacy brand Nuxe has long been known for its reliable SPFs and its haircare range is no different. Formulated with jojoba oil, coconut oil and panthenol, as well as scents of sweet orange, tiare flowers and vanilla, spritz on before and after swimming to create a fine veil that keeps hair nourished and defended.

Nuxe Sun Moisturising Protective Milky Oil for hair, £16, lookfantastic.com

Philip B Thermal Protection Spray

Philip B claims its thermal spray is ‘the first ever time-released hair perfume – with benefits’. In practice, this means that hair smells gorgeous and is protected from heat and UV rays from the very first spritz, while the formula's safflower oleosomes, monogogo oil, artichoke leaf extract and amino acids nourish and repair locks throughout the day. As well as being perfect for the beach, it can also be used before heat styling or anytime hair is feeling a little frazzled.

Philip B Thermal Protection Spray, £28, net-a-porter.com

 
 

Cloud Nine Magical Quick Dry Potion

Cloud Nine is best known for its range of top-notch hair dryers, straighteners and curling irons – which means it knows a thing or two about how hair reacts under heat duress. Its Magical Quick Dry Potion was initially conceived to protect hair during blow dries while reducing drying time by up to 50 per cent to minimise the amount of heat hair is exposed to. It didn’t take long, however, for the brand to realise that its UV filtering and quick drying properties are also ideal for minimising the drying effect of the sun’s rays.

Cloud Nine Magical Quick Dry Potion, £20, selfridges.com

Bumble and Bumble Suncare for Hair

Designed with holidays in mind, this travel-sized haircare duo from New York City-based brand Bumble and Bumble promises 360-degree protection for your tresses. Begin by running the Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil Primer through locks to detangle, smooth and protect from UV rays. Then follow with the Surf Styling Leave In: a conditioning serum-style product that revitalises while creating dreamy beach waves.

Bumble & Bumble Suncare for Hair gift set, £19, beautybay.com

 
 

Kérastase Soleil Crème UV Sublime

Professional haircare brand Kérastase needs no introduction – you likely see its products every time you pop into the salon for a trim. If you’re spending a lot of time in the sun, it’s worth considering investing in the entire Soleil range but if there’s one product that’s a must it’s the Crème UV Sublime. Enhanced with Vitamin E, and scented with summery jasmine and solar tuberose, this ultra-lightweight, non-greasy cream can be reapplied as needed to prevent drying from sun, chlorine and seawater while leaving hair soft and glossy.

Kérastase Soleil Crème UV Sublime, £23.24, lookfantastic.com

Aveda After-Sun Hair Masque

Just as the skin needs an extra boost of hydration after a long day in the sun, so your hair will thank you for offering up something a little more powerful than your standard conditioner after a trip to the beach. Aveda’s after-sun hair masque contains green tea extract, organic sunflower seed oil and Vitamin E to nourish, strengthen and repair tired locks.

Aveda After-Sun Hair Masque, £31, harveynichols.com

Read more: Summer's must-know beauty and skincare trends