We all know what the sun can do to our skin, but what about its effects on our hair?

Sun worshippers slather on sunscreen with near-religious devotion but when it comes to our tresses, many of us aren’t shielding ourselves from the sun’s powerful beams.

“Your hair has moisture and when you’re being exposed to the sun, it’s just multiplying the problem of over-dried hair,” insists Robert Barbosa, a Redken session stylist and owner of Salon Escape. “All of a sudden your hair becomes extremely dry.”

Summer sun can be a hairdresser’s biggest pet peeve; it causes colour to fade, curls to flatten and even the shiniest heads of hair to dull.

To ensure a hot summer ‘do that’s sun-kissed, not sun-baked, invest in hair products with UV protectors like Redken Color Extend or Nexxus Salon Hair Care.

“Products with UVA and UVB protectors are a must these days,” Barbosa says. “You can actually see the damage of the sun. The new growth area looks shiny, resilient… and by the time you get to the ends, you see over-porous hair and most of the time it’s split ends.”

Sunshine isn’t the only summertime hair hazard, however, and once swimsuit season is upon us, hair can get damaged from the water too. While seawater works wonders for getting that textured beach-babe look, salt can build up and cause strands to grow brittle and break. With freshwater lakes, all those minerals swimming around can cause colour-treated hair to lose its hue.

But chlorine is the biggest buzz kill when it comes to keeping summer hair happy, says Tony Masciangelo, a professional stylist for Nexxus and owner of The Alcorn salon in Toronto.

“Chlorine dries out hair that isn’t even coloured,” he says. “If you can avoid it, avoid it.”

So whether you’re poolside or beachfront, take the steps to protect your mane. Barbosa recommends always wetting your hair immediately, since dry hair is more vulnerable to absorbing unwanted chemicals or mineral deposits. Secondly, coat your hair with protective products, either store-bought sprays or Masicangelo’s do-it-yourself concoction of equal parts water and hair conditioner.

But sometimes, the best protection is the least attractive one too, and Masciangelo often urges his clients to wear rubber caps when they swim.

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