Sun damaged hair is the last thing you want to bring home with you when you return from holiday, but if you’ve been soaking up the sun, the chances are your locks will be be paying for it.
Having been on several sun-filled getaways this year, including to the Caribbean island of Grenada and the Middle Eastern peninsula of Qatar, my hair has been showing signs of serious sun damage. At its worst, I was finding split ends on my pillow every morning when I woke up and I couldn’t even tie my hair back because it kept snapping.
After a few months of regular hair cuts, continuous treatments and no colouring whatsoever, my hair is finally returning to its usual shiny self. It’s taken me a while to get here, though and at one point, I actually considered chopping all my hair off!
Don’t let sun damaged hair spoil your holiday experience – check out these 10 quick and easy ways to show your locks some love! Note: if you’re particularly worried about the condition of your hair and you’re experiencing symptoms such as hair loss, see your GP as soon as possible – this could point to more serious health concerns, including mental health and nutritional issues.
10 speedy solutions for sun damaged hair
1) Avocado hair mask
After a trip somewhere hot, my hair usually feels like straw and normal washing doesn’t seems to fix it. I wear sun cream constantly, but I must admit that I often forget about protecting my hair. So, when you touch down at home, it’s time to fix things!
What I like about an avocado hair mask is that it uses ingredients you’re likely to have at home. Avocado is worth adding to your shopping list, but I usually have it for guacamole anyway.
Use a spoon on the avocado until it’s creamy and then add a couple of tablespoons of both honey and olive oil. Apply it to your hair – it will smell delish – and leave it to set under a shower cap.
Now, it’s just a case of pottering around the house for half an hour while the mask does its thing. After that, hop into the shower and wash your hair with cool water until all traces of the mask are gone. Then, start preening!
– Danni, Live in 10 Countries
2) Aloe vera
As a full-time traveller – and one with very curly hair – I really have to take care of my hair to protect it from sun damage. One of my top remedies, which is both natural and quick, is aloe vera. A lot of people think aloe vera is only good for the skin, but it’s also amazing for hair, especially sun damaged hair.
Use it as a homemade mask on your hair, in the same way you’d use mayonnaise or avocado as a moisturising treatment. You just have to grind the aloe vera into a fine paste, then apply it to your hair and scalp and leave it on for at least 30 minutes.
You should wear an old top that you don’t mind getting stained, and cover your head with plastic wrap or a plastic shower cap so things don’t get too messy. I usually plan the treatment and then go about doing something else around the house (I wouldn’t venture outside, but that’s up to you!) This aloe vera mask will leave your hair shinier and provide relief to your scalp and hair after too much sun exposure.
After any treatment or mask, it’s best to rinse and wash your hair with cold water. This adds shine and helps to seal the cuticles.
– Olga Maria, Dreams in Heels
3) Coconut oil hair mask
Coconut oil is an incredible product. Not only can it cure a myriad of common ailments, but it’s also brilliant at keeping your hair in tip-top shape. When it comes to hair, prevention is better than cure. Coconut oil acts as a natural sunscreen, so using it in your hair can help stop sun damage from occurring in the first place.
If you do end up with dry and brittle hair following sun damage, coconut oil can help you here too. Warm some up in your hands and apply enough to coat your hair thoroughly,c then massage it through your damp tresses. Once applied, wrap your hair in a warm towel or shower cap and leave it on for about 20 mins before rinsing off. Afterwards, your hair will feel amazingly smooth and be much easier to brush. If you’ve got particularly damaged hair, you may want to repeat this process once a week until it becomes more manageable.
The best thing about using coconut oil in this way is that it’s a completely natural product, it’s so good for your hair and scalp, and it’s comparatively very cost effective compared to traditional hair masks! Oh, and because it’s so versatile, you’ll end up taking some everywhere with you – it’s the perfect travel buddy!
– Nadine, Le Long Weekend
4) Apple Cider Vinegar
I returned from a two-week trip to Thailand with an overdose of mango sticky rice and badly damaged hair. At first, I attributed both to the tropical beach life and daily swimming along the beautiful beaches. However, I noticed my hair wasn’t getting any better.
So, I went to the one person who knows me inside out – my mother. She took one look at my hair and passed me her bottle of apple cider vinegar, knowing fully well how much I love my hair and what the repercussions would be if it backfired in any way!
I had to apply the vinegar overnight on my hair and wash it off with a mild shampoo in the morning, every alternate day for a week. By the end of the week, I had not only got my normal hair texture back, but my hair was shinier and bouncier than before as well.
A few days later, I met a dermatologist friend at a party and she confirmed what my mother had known all along. Apple cider vinegar is one of the best ways to treat sun damaged hair. It’s something I recommend from personal experience and I’m happy to suggest it to anyone.
– Priyanko, The Constant Traveller
5) Marula Oil
A 1000-year-old African remedy, Marula oil is sourced from the Marula tree, which grows throughout the African continent and has long been a source of food and nutrients for animals and humans. This oil has become very popular in the West because of its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties; it’s extremely hydrating, it fights environmental damage like sunburn, its high in Vitamin C and oleic acid and it contains 60% more antioxidants than argan oil!
Heat up a small amount of Marula oil and then work the mixture through the hair. Place a shower cap over your head and allow your hair to rest for 45-60 minutes before washing out. Although expensive, it is very effective. Using Marula oil regularly, you’re almost assured to have hair that is beautiful, lustrous and healthy.
– Aron, The Salt Box
Over the summer, I travelled around Italy and did a lot of hiking, despite the really hot temperatures. Whilst I normally have oily hair, I found that the sun dried out my hair and increased my split ends.
My obviously on-trend Mum actually introduced me to a relatively new method of keeping your hair clean that’s growing increasingly popular, known as ‘co-washing’. This involves avoiding the use of shampoo – which can often contain harsh chemicals that strip the natural oils from your hair, making it drier – and use only a gentle conditioner instead.
Okay, so I haven’t gone down the hardcore route. I still use a gentle and environmentally friendly shampoo once a week but, every other time I have a shower, I only use conditioner. So far, so good; I can now go longer between washes and my hair feels smoother and softer.
– Gemma, A Girl and Her Dog On the Road
7) Argan oil
When it comes to sun damaged hair, argan oil is my go-to solution. Having thick, course hair, I am prone to sun damage. Though I have tried many options over the year, argan oil has shown the best results. Argan oil is packed full of vitamin E, leaving your hair hydrated and nourished. It works great for repairing the split ends and dryness that result from sun damage.
The best thing about argan oil for sun damaged hair is that not only does it repair your hair, but it also helps to protect against further damage. By applying the oil directly to your hair prior to any heat exposure, you’ll build up a protective layer on your hair. This insulates it from the heat of the sun, preventing damage from the get-go.
I also love that argan oil is perfect for all hair types. I have three three daughters, all with different hair types and so it’s great that one product can repair all!
– Alicia, The Mom Kind
8) Egg hair mask
Eggs contain many healthy nutrients that can benefit your hair in so many ways. They’re rich in protein, fatty acids and vitamins A, B and D. The high amount of protein in egg whites can help you repair and strengthen damaged hair, add volume and shine, and even boost hair growth. The fat called lecithin contained within egg yolks can condition your hair and scalp, while also adding extra moisture.
Consuming eggs on a daily basis will definitely help you repair dry, damaged hair. Applying them topically will only increase the effects and promote strong, healthy hair!
Here’s how to moisturise your hair and repair it from sun damage with a simple egg mask. You’ll need:
- 1 egg
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tbsp of raw honey
- 1 tbsp of olive oil
Crack an egg open and transfer the contents to a small bowl. Crack open another, separate the yolk from the white, and add only the yolk to the bowl. Whisk together, then add the honey and olive oil. Keep whisking until you get a frothy mixture.
Apply the mixture to damp hair – start by gently massaging the scalp and work your way to the ends. Make sure each part of your hair is covered. Leave it on for around 30 minutes. Rinse off with lukewarm water and follow up with your regular shampoo. For best results, repeat this treatment once a week or at least twice a month.
– Ana, 365 Beauty Tips
9) Leave-in conditioner
When you’re looking to repair sun-bleached hair, moisture is the name of the game. Use a leave-in conditioner such as Honest Beauty’s Beyond Hydrated Moisture Milk Leave-In Conditioner. Its award-winning formula uses nutrients, oils and antioxidants to repair and protect hair.
– Erica, iSpy Fabulous
10) Get a haircut
Even the best hair treatments on the market are unable to truly repair sun damaged hair; the best way to eliminate the damage caused by UV rays is to trim off any dry, brittle split ends and let your hair grow back again.
You don’t need to have all your hair chopped off, but be sure to ask your hairdresser to chop off all the dead ends – shorter, healthy hair is always better than longer, lacklustre locks!
What are your top tips for repairing sun damaged hair? Remember to pin this post so you’ll know exactly how to nurse your locks back to life after your next sunny getaway!