Information on ways to protect your skin from UV damage is everywhere, especially during the summer months. But what about your hair? Yes, those locks deserve some safeguarding against sun damage too. Some good news—there are natural oils that provide some sun protection. Learn which oils have UV protection properties, how to use them on your hair, and why you want to choose natural over chemical sunscreens.
Why You Need Naturally Derived Sunscreen
You’ve probably read that mineral sunscreen ingredients (zinc oxide and titanium dioxide) are preferable to commonly used chemical sunscreen ingredients. Why? Let’s start with how does sunscreen work and the difference between these two types of ingredients.
There are two types of UV rays that cause sun damage to the skin. UVA rays can penetrate the uppermost layers of skin and reach deeper layers and have the potential to cause long-term damage, like premature aging and skin cancer. UVB rays are those that cause sunburn and affect mainly the top layers of skin.
Natural mineral sunscreen ingredients protect the skin from damage by forming a physical barrier on top of the skin, reflecting UV rays. Chemical sunscreen ingredients work by soaking into the skin and absorbing UV rays before they can reach deeper layers of skin. The problem is that some UV rays are still able to reach the uppermost layers of skin when you use chemical sunscreen.
But that’s not the only problem when it comes to chemical sunscreen ingredients. The most widely used come with a slew of potential health issues. Below is a snapshot of concerns over some of the most often used chemical sunscreen ingredients.
Sunscreen Ingredients to Avoid
Octinoxate: Linked to hormonal disruption, cell proliferation in estrogen-responsive tumors, and alters the reproductive system in women and men.
Oxybenzone: Associated with allergic reactions and hormonal disruption.
Avobenzone: An organic sunscreen ingredient that is not as risky in terms of toxicity, but this ingredient breaks down quickly in the sun and is almost always paired with one of the chemical sunscreen ingredients above.
Sunscreen Ingredients to Avoid
If you’ve seen hair sunscreen on beauty store shelves, they could contain the sunscreen ingredients to avoid listed above, so it’s important to check product ingredient listings before purchasing. There are natural mineral powder scalp sunscreen products that offer some UV protection to the scalp. But these most likely disappear once you sweat or spend even a little time in the sun.
Opting for natural oils that include sun protection properties is a great way to prevent the appearance of damage to your hair. As a bonus, they also keep strands moisturized.
Types of Oils That Provide UV Protection for the Hair
When using natural oils to protect the hair against sun damage, it’s important to remember that they offer incidental protection and are not an actual sunscreen product. Still, they are a great way to guard against some UV damage while offering your strands the beneficial properties of the oil and they work on all hair types. While research published by Pharmacognosy Research journal found most natural oils to range in SPF value from .2 to 7.5, all SPF values shown below are approximate. Take a look at which oils offer some UV defense.
Natural Oils and UV Protection
Raspberry seed oil
This oil has an SPF of 8 for UVA and 28-50 for UVB protection. A 2000 Canadian study published in Food Chemistry journal stated that the oil showed potential for use as a broad spectrum oil, meaning it protects against both types of rays. Raspberry seed oil also lends a strengthened feel to the hair and scalp.
This oil clocks in at about 20 SPF. It’s also rich in vitamin E and improves the feeling of elasticity in hair.
Providing SPF 15, hazelnut oil lends a nourishing feel to the scalp and hair and visibly improves heat-damaged hair.
Hemp seed oil
This oil carries an SPF 6 and promotes the appearance of hair growth and thickness.
Sea buckthorn oil
This oil only offers around 2-4 SPF, but makes hair feel moisturized and promotes the appearance of hair growth.
Macadamia nut oil
Offering an SPF of 6, macadamia nut oil is perfect for dry or frizzy hair. Macadamia nut oil is lightweight and therefore is often used in everything from a leave-in conditioner to a volumizing product.
Check out some of our favorite Macadamia Nut Oil based products below.
With an SPF 5, almond oil makes hair feel soft and smooth.
Protect your silver or blonde locks from fadage with O&M's Conquer Blonde Hair Mask, rich in purple pigment and almond oil.
Popular North Authentic products with Almond Oil include:
Sesame seed oil
Providing only 2 SPF, this oil offers many benefits to hair—from increasing the appearance of hair growth and hydration to diminishing the look of hair fall and dandruff. Be sure to use cold pressed sesame seed oil to avoid the scent of the toasted variety.
All of these work well to give hair a reparative look and feel post-UV exposure, as well as a few others, like tomato seed, white camellia seed, moringa, maracuja, and prickly pear oils. Use these once you come in from the sun in a product like Cult + King Wash Bar.
Natural oils make a great addition to your summertime hair care routine. While they may offer some incidental sun protection, they are not a replacement for actual sunscreen. If you plan to be outdoors for longer periods, don a hat or scarf to cover your hair.