When I was little, even as a mostly an indoor child, I knew what month of summer it was by checking the color of my hair. During those hot days spent at summer camp, my hair faded from black to a deep auburn. For indoor adults, the summer daycare phenomenon is less prominent, but the sun still affects our coloration! Our skin gets darker, our hair gets lighter, and we adjust the contrast settings on our favorite Instagram filters accordingly.

The question remains: is sunbleaching BAD for you?

The short answer? Yes. The longer answer, as always, is that it depends

Hair lightening by natural means is necessarily a bad thing, but remember that ALL bleaching is a result of literal chemical changes that can come with unwanted side effects.

If you often work and play outside, your sun-kissed summer hair may be at risk for dryness and breakage

In addition to monitoring your time spent in the sun, look at how densely your hair
is packed, as well as the width of each hair shaft. If you have a head of fine cornsilk
curls and an easy-to-see scalp, consider wearing a hat in the great outdoors, and
step up your routine with daily moisture-refreshing sessions. If your hair is longer and
thicker, you might not need or even FIT into a hat. However, you should still lay down
some sun protection outside and add to your conditioning routine.

All hair types should consider an oil pre-poo with a good intense massage to keep
your scalp calm and soft without weighing down your curls. So should you wear
sunscreen on your head? Negative, unless you’re rocking an undercut, a fade, or a
buzz. With these haircuts, your hair’s short length might mean that giving it a onceover
with some SPF would serve you well. Find a sunblock that works for you and give
your curls a spray before you go out and soak in those rays.

For those of us rocking an all-over TWA or longer, it’s not necessary, practical, or
appealing in any way to put skin protectants on our hair. But there ARE products
made to help us out. Sprays rich in anti-oxidant oils, like Briogeo’s Roscaro Oil, and
Alikay Naturals’ Wake Me Up Curl Refresher can help you take a natural approach
to sun protection. And for ingredients similar to commercial sunscreen without the
goopy texture, try Cantu’s Anti-Fade Oil or Creme of Nature’s Shine Mist.

The lineup of hard-to-pronounce ingredients might seem more intimidating than
other more natural routes, but with elements specifically designed to protect against
harmful UV rays, definitely consider all options!