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How to Treat Sun-Bleached Hair

How to Treat Sun-Bleached Hair

If lived-in, natural highlights are your thing, then being outside all summer is a great way to lighten up your strands. Otherwise, too much sun can wreak havoc on your hair color, stripping vibrancy and turning it brassy. But that doesn’t mean you have to spend the season indoors. We’re telling you how to keep your color looking fresh and your hair healthy all summer long. These are the best tips and sun products to prevent lightning and treat your sun bleached hair.

Understanding Sun Bleached Hair

So does the sun lighten your hair? It does, and the term for this is hair photobleaching. Any prolonged exposure to the sun causes the ultraviolet rays in sunlight to oxidize the hair. Oxidation occurs when a substance comes into contact with oxygen, turning it colorless. The same chemical reaction happens when you bleach your hair at a salon. But in the case of sun bleached hair, the sun’s rays lighten the hair by naturally depleting its melanin.

The Impact of Sun on Hair Color

The impact of the sun on your hair color depends on a few different things. First is your natural hair color. People with lighter hair, like blondes and redheads, will experience more noticeable changes in color due to a higher level of pheomelanin, which is more susceptible to UV light. The intensity and duration of sun exposure also plays a part. For example, spending extended periods of time in direct sunlight, will lead to more pronounced effects on hair color. The hair’s porosity and condition (like whether or not it’s been exposed to chemicals) also impact how the color will react. So does bleached hair get lighter in the sun? Not exactly. Bleached hair doesn’t fade in the same way, instead it gets dull, discolored and brassy. This includes sun bleached brown hair and other shades that have been bleached.

Preventive Measures for Sun Bleaching of Hair

In addition to weakening the structure of your hair shaft, the sun can also fade or discolor your salon-fresh color. These are our tips for protecting your strands from getting bleached.

Wear a Hat

The most effective way to protect your color is to create a physical barrier between your hair and the sun with a hat, scarf or umbrella. Especially if you’re out in the sun for long periods of time, covering your hair is a must to keep your color looking its best.

Use Color-Protecting Shampoo and Conditioner

These sulfate-free formulas are gentler on your strands and formulated to resist color loss. Limit your washing to a few times per week and always rinse your hair with cold water to seal your hair cuticles and retain color.

Deep Condition Regularly

Deep conditioning your hair at least once a week helps it maintain moisture, which ultimately helps prevent color fading. Coconut oil has so many benefits for your hair, it’s perfect to use as a hair mask to keep your hair conditioned through the season.


Just the way you protect your skin with SPF before spending time in the sun, you should be doing the same to protect your hair. Make lathering your strands with a hair sunscreen the step right after you do your skin as part of your before-sun routine. This is also one of the best ways to prevent the other effects of sun-damaged hair.

Restoring Sun-Bleached Hair

The sun can really dry out your hair. Even if you love the sun-kissed hair look, you’ll need to add some moisture back into your strands if you spend a lot of time outside. To restore your sun bleached hair, add an after-sun hair mask into your deep conditioning rotation. Choose a formula designed for use during and after sun exposure, like our SU Hair Mask. Apply it to towel dried hair after washing, in place of your regular conditioner. Leave it on for 5-15 minutes, comb it through then rinse thoroughly. While you’re at it, treat your skin to a hydrating after-sun gel as part of your summer pampering routine.

Caring For Sun-Kissed Hair

Once your hair has been lightened by the sun, you’ll need to care for it a little differently. These are our tips for caring for your sunny strands.

Use Sulfate-Free Shampoo and Conditioner

Sulfates strip the moisture from your hair so you should always avoid them at all costs. But especially if your hair has been lightning, it needs all the moisture it can get.

Avoid Heat Styling

Heat styling causes damage to your hair, and if your hair’s been lightened, it’s more susceptible to breakage caused by heat styling.

Use a Hair Mask

A hair mask adds much needed hydration back into your sun-kissed strands, restoring softness and shine.

Get a Trim

If your hair has recently been lightened by the sun, it's a good idea to see your stylist to remove any damaged hair and give your hair a chance to regrow.


FAQs related to how the sun affects hair color

Read below for answers to some of the most frequently asked client questions related to how the sun affects hair color.

How do you even out sun-bleached hair?

The best way to even out sun-bleached hair is with a hair toner. These demi-permanent or semi-permanent formulas deposit pigment that doesn't damage or permanently change the color of your hair.

Can you reverse sun bleached hair?

You can not technically reverse the process of sun bleaching. Once the UV rays break down the hair’s pigment molecules, they’re gone. But you can add more pigment with a toner to remove brassiness and even discoloration.

Is sun bleached hair permanent?

So does the sun make your hair lighter? It sure does. But thanks to toner, sun bleached hair isn’t permanent.

Final Thoughts

Even if going a few strand shades lighter naturally in the sun is what you seek, your hair needs special care if you spend time in the sun. Keep your color looking fresh and your sun bleached hair healthy all summer long with our tips. And remember to use only the highest quality, sulfate-free products like the ones from Davines.

by Jaclyn LaBadia, featured contributor

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