The sun is shining, and that means you’re in the habit of slathering yourself in sunscreen from head to toe (at least we hope!) before going outside for the day. But what about your hair? Does it need protection too? You’ve probably heard that UV rays can seriously damage your tresses, but do they have the same effect on hair color? Apparently, it’s not that simple.

How the sun affects your hair color depends on whether you dye your hair or not. Rockin’ your natural hue? Then those rays can actually have some pretty pin-worthy effects on your hair. David Adams, master colorist at Fourteenjay salon in New York City, says that sun-kissed highlights (AKA balayage) are a popular request starting in spring, but the look can be achieved naturally when out in the sun. “With brown hair, when you go in the sun, you get the most lovely natural highlights,” says Adams.

As far as the solar effects on dyed hair goes, it really varies by individual, says Stephanie Brown, master colorist at Nunzio Saviano Salon in New York City. “Blondes usually just get lighter and don’t usually turn brassy,” says Brown. “With brunettes, it’s 50/50.”

Living Proof Restore Perfect Spray

If you’re just running errands, you don’t have to worry about the sun wrecking your hair color, says Brown, but if you’re spending a week at the beach, then it is a good idea to take some type of precautionary measure. It doesn’t have to be time-consuming. Brown likes using Living Proof Restore Perfect Spray ($29), which offers UV and heat protection, before blow-drying. Easy!

Adams says that it’s really only faux redheads who have to be concerned, because their color fades a whole lot faster than anyone else. “It’s always been the rule of thumb that if you color your hair, you can’t get it exposed to the sun,” says Adams. “But apart from redheads, I think it’s a little bit nonsense. If you’re coming off the beach and using a good quality shampoo and conditioner, then there’s no reason you can’t go out and enjoy the sun.”

Clairol Shimmer Lights

If your hair color has turned brassy, a purple or blue shampoo will help mitigate that effect. Brown recommends mixing a little bit of Clairol Shimmer Lights ($12) into your regular shampoo once a week if you’re a blonde or trying Aveda Blue Malva Shampoo ($44) once a week if you’re a brunette.

Now, while you don’t have to feel too stressed about your hair color being destroyed by the sun, you should absolutely shield your scalp. “Protecting your scalp from the sun is important because your scalp is susceptible to skin damage just like the rest of your body,” explains Christel C. Malinski, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist in Louisiana. “Skin cancer on the scalp is not easily detected in early stages. Typically, when skin cancer is found on the scalp it is in the late stages, so protection and prevention is important.”

Coola Organic SPF 30 Hair & Scalp Mist

Throwing on a hat is the easiest way to keep your scalp out of harm’s way, but there are also products that offer sun protection for hair and scalp. One of Brown’s faves is Coola Organic SPF 30 Hair & Scalp Mist ($26), which features plant antioxidants to soothe and nourish your hair and scalp.

Shari Hicks-Graham, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in Ohio, adds that while your mid-lengths to ends don’t need as much protection as your scalp does, the sun can still dry out your hair. That’s why, whether or not you dye your hair, both Adams and Brown stress the importance of keeping your hair hydrated during the sunny summer months.

Aveda Sun Care Hair & Body Cleanser

Adams uses Aveda products at his salon and says their Sun Care Hair & Body Cleanser ($22) is one of his favorite buys for a post-sun refresh. It gets rid of chlorine (which dries out hair and in rare cases may turn blonde hair green), salt, and product buildup while moisturizing with coconut oil.

A conditioning mask bring fried summer hair back to life. Brown is a fan of Oribe Gold Lust Transformative Masque ($66), which offers UV protection and repairs damaged hair, and It’s a 10 Miracle Mask ($31), which smooths over-processed hair.

(Photo via Getty)

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