There's nothing better than getting out and enjoying the sun in summer. But did you know it can damage your hair?
Understanding the factors contributing to sun-damaged hair is key to addressing it. That's why we're here to walk you through the common causes of summer hair loss and ways to prevent it, as well as answer frequently asked questions.
- Do you lose more hair in the summer?
- What causes summer hair loss
- How to prevent hair loss during summer
- Frequently asked questions
Do you lose more hair in the summer?
While losing 50 to 100 hairs a day is normal according to the NHS, you may notice shedding more in summer.
A number of things we often do during summer, like sitting in the sun for long periods and swimming in the sea, can actually have a detrimental effect on our hair, increasing the risk of breakage or even hair loss.
What causes summer hair loss
We all know the sun's ultraviolet (UV) radiation can harm the skin, but it can also be detrimental to your hair! Especially if you're spending more time outdoors during the summer months when UV is higher. In fact, a recent study found prolonged UV exposure can potentially damage hair follicles, interrupting the hair growth cycle and causing thinning or loss.
It can also lead to dryness and scalp irritation, possibly resulting in dull, brittle hair that's more prone to breakage.
High humidity levels during summer can cause hair cuticles to lift in an attempt to absorb and regulate moisture. But this can lead to the swelling and shrinking of the hair strands, weakening the hair structure over time. And these weakened hair strands are vulnerable to breakage and falling out, especially during brushing and styling when the hair is subjected to tugging and friction.
Chlorine and saltwater
Summer calls for trips to the beach and lounging by the poolside, but it's important to be mindful of the effects of chlorine and saltwater on your hair.
Frequent dips in seawater or chlorinated pools can dehydrate and strip away your hair's natural oils, leaving it brittle and dry. And when hair is dry, it becomes more prone to breakage and falling out.
The combination of hot weather, increased outdoor activities, and sweating can cause your body to lose more fluids during summer. And not getting enough H2O can actually parch your hair and make it more prone to breakage. When you're dehydrated, your hair shafts can become dry and brittle, increasing the risk of hair shedding or loss.
Diet and nutrition
During the summer, our dietary habits often change, and we may be more inclined to indulge in less healthy food choices — especially when we're on holiday! While occasional indulgences are perfectly fine, it's important to be mindful that long-term poor nutrition can have an impact on our hair health.
Vitamins, minerals, and proteins support strong and healthy hair growth, so a diet lacking these essential nutrients could potentially contribute to weakened hair follicles and increased hair shedding over time.
How to prevent hair loss during summer
Optimal hair health during the summer requires a combination of proper hair care and lifestyle practices. Here are some tips to help minimise the risk of hair loss during the summer months:
Shield your hair from the sun
When spending time outdoors in direct sunlight, cover your hair with a hat or a lightweight scarf. This will provide shade and reduce the exposure of your hair to harmful UV rays.
If you've already noticed signs of sun damage in your hair — like dryness, thinning, or a lighter colour — it's best to limit your sun exposure as much as possible. This means seeking shade, especially during the sun's peak hours, and avoiding prolonged periods of direct sunlight. By minimising further exposure, you can help prevent additional damage and give your hair a chance to recover.
Use hair care products that contain UV protection
When out in the sun, consider using specially formulated hair care products with UV protection. Not only will they shield your hair from the damaging effects of the sun, but oils and sprays can also give it a beautifully glossy shine!
Drink plenty of water
Drinking plenty of water during summer will keep you hydrated, something which is vital for optimal hair growth. Water is essential for nutrient absorption and transportation throughout the body, including the hair follicles.
Aim to drink water consistently throughout the day and increase your intake during periods of high heat or physical activity. Pay attention to your body's thirst cues and make it a habit to carry a water bottle with you to encourage regular hydration!
Avoid heat styling
Hair is prone to becoming dry when exposed to the sun. And using heat styling tools like blow driers and straighteners can further weaken the hair and contribute to hair thinning or loss.
That's why you should limit the use of these, embracing heat-free styling techniques and letting your hair air dry whenever possible.
Rinse your hair after swimming
After enjoying a dip in chlorinated pools or seawater, it's crucial to prioritise shampooing and rinsing your hair thoroughly with clean, fresh water as soon as possible.
This simple step is essential to eliminate any lingering traces of chlorine or saltwater, which can dry your hair, making it more prone to breakage.
Maintain a healthy diet
While you should still be enjoying yourself when on holiday, getting in your fruit and veggies shouldn't be neglected.
Maintaining a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables is beneficial for preventing hair loss during the summer. These nutritious foods provide essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that promote hair health and growth. Specifically, vitamins like A, C, and E, as well as minerals like iron and zinc, are vital for maintaining strong and healthy hair follicles.
And don't forget the protein! Protein provides the building blocks necessary for hair growth, so it's essential to be getting enough in your diet. Think nuts, meat, eggs, and beans.
Frequently asked questions
How often should you wash your hair in summer?
Generally, washing your hair two to three times a week at any time of the year is sufficient to remove sweat, dirt, and excess oil.
However, if you're frequently swimming in chlorinated pools or seawater, you'll need to be washing your hair more often to remove damaging chemicals. And if you're exercising outdoors and your hair gets sweaty, you may need to wash it more frequently.
That's why how often you need to wash your hair in summer really depends. It's crucial to find a balance that keeps your scalp clean and refreshed without stripping away natural oils.
Does sunburn cause hair loss?
While sunburn itself does not directly cause hair loss, it can contribute to scalp irritation and dryness, which may indirectly affect hair health. Prolonged sun exposure can damage the hair follicles over time, potentially leading to weaker hair strands, thinning, and loss.
That's why it's so crucial to protect your scalp from sun exposure by wearing hats or using UV protection products designed for the hair.
Can sun-damaged hair be repaired?
The best way to tackle summer hair loss is - of course - by preventing it. Once your hair is sun damaged, you can't reverse it. But thankfully, you can take steps to improve your hair's condition and encourage it to grow back.
Sun-exposed hair is more fragile, so you should be treating your hair delicately. Wide-toothed combs and avoiding hairstyles that pull on the scalp will help prevent further breakage. Staying out of the sun as much as possible and using UV hair protection will also promote recovery and growth.
Read our guide to learn more tips for healthy hair and everyday changes to stimulate growth.
Learn more about FUE Clinics
Of course, not all hair damage or loss is caused by the sun, and there could be underlying issues at play. In this case, it's best to consult your GP for guidance.
If hair loss is persistent, or you have a condition like male-pattern baldness (androgenetic alopecia), a hair transplant could be a permanent solution to restore your hair. Take a look at our guide to learn if you're the right candidate for a hair transplant.