Damage to the hair and scalp is mainly caused by bad hair and lifestyle habits, over styling, and coloring. Yet during the summer it is Nature itself along with scorching summer sun activities, which can wreak havoc on the hair and scalp. All seasons have the potential to damage the hair and scalp, but the exposure to excessive sun in the summer can have lasting adverse effects. It is universally known that the intense summer sun is detrimental to the skin, which requires appropriate measures of precaution to keep it protected. It is also known and scientifically understood that exposure to an abundance of sunlight can break down the integrity of the hair and scalp, which also needs protection and healing.
The potentially damaging effects to your hair and scalp from the intense summer sun and exposure during summer activities begins with the weathering and oxidative destruction from the heat. The outward part of the hair or hair shaft has a delicate fiber structure made of keratin, sensible to external effects whether physical, mechanical, or chemical. Studies published at the NIH (National Institute of Health) have proven that excessive sun exposition is the most frequent cause of the hair shaft’s structural keratin impairment. It further penetrates the hair cuticles, causing damage by drying the hair and making it brittle and stiff. The sun’s UV rays penetrate to reach the cortex of the hair also causing pigmentation loss and protein degradation. UVB radiation is responsible for hair protein loss, destruction of keratin and other proteins, and UVA radiation is responsible for color changes, destruction of melanin, the chemical that gives hair it’s pigment. These occur as absorption of the radiation by the photosensitive amino acids of the hair shaft and their photochemical degradation is producing free radicals. These free radicals unless neutralized then continue their damaging effects even when out of the sun through oxidative distress. The studies mentioned earlier also showed that significant color changes were observed in every hair type, after UV lamp and sun irradiation, being more pronounced for the light colored hairs. The heat from summer usually comes with high humidity, which can settle on the hair and weigh it down making it limp and lifeless. Conversely, the heat from very dry climates and low humidity can cause serious damage to the hair roots from dryness. Tanning beds are even worse than the sun in fading color and damaging the hair from UV rays because they are stronger and much more direct.
According to different studies published at the NIH, sun exposure is the number one environmental cause of melanoma, the most serious and potentially lethal form of skin cancer that develops in the melanocytes, the cells that produce melanin, the pigment that gives skin (and hair) it’s color. The hair helps cover the scalp, as well as the delicate skin around the ears, and protects it from sunburn. However, if your hair is thinning, receding, balding, or you’ve chosen to shave your head, your scalp becomes even more prone to increased dryness and sunburn, including damaging the remaining hair roots, which can have lasting detrimental effects to the hair and scalp.
The other major contributor to the hair and scalp’s damage during the summer comes from our more active outdoor lifestyles. The increased perspiration and dirt from outdoor activities in the sun can either cause or further contribute to hair problems like dandruff, psoriasis, eczema, split ends, frizz and increased hair fallout. The increased toxins from our sweat coupled with outside dirt and sunscreen can cause a greasy film layer at the hairline and a layer of hardened scurf on the scalp that literally “chokes off” the hair follicle and roots causing hair loss or thinner less viable hair, or the death of the root altogether. If we do not treat these conditions properly either prophylactically or when they occur, the damage can be either chronic or permanent.
Swimming in a pool or the ocean can also be highly detrimental to both the scalp and hair. Anyone who has done either knows how the skin becomes dry when leaving the water; imagine what effect that has to the hair and scalp. The scalp secretes natural oils and nutrients like sebum, which feed, lubricate, and protect the hair shaft. The chlorine in most pools and the concentrated salt from beach water strips sebum, natural oils, and nutrients from the hair. Even saltwater pools while not quite as harmful as fully chlorinated pools, contain chlorine and of course salt. Remember, chlorine is bleach, and in addition to turning some color treated blonde hair green, it will pull the color out of your hair, especially if the color was very recently put in.
Whether it’s from a pool, the ocean, a backyard hose or sprinkler, or just showering more frequently, your hair spends more time being wet in summer. As hair is much more fragile when it’s wet, (especially soaked with chlorine or salt water) it’s important to be extra careful when caring for wet hair: avoid tight ponytails, buns, or stringent hair ties; avoid vigorous hair drying with a dryer or a towel; or using a brush on wet hair; as all of these contribute to damage and breakage.
When you really consider all the potentially adverse effects to the hair and scalp of going outdoors and having fun in the sun during summer, it might make you want to hide in your house. Fortunately Neil Naturopathic products are designed to prevent, protect, and heal, both the scalp and hair from the harsh effects of summer’s heat, sun, and activities. We will also offer a few extra tips to help effectuate the commitment of these products.
Neil Naturopathic formulas are founded on the laws of Nature, the principles of Naturopathic medicine, and the practice of sacredness of self. Every ingredient in Neil Naturopathic products is purposeful and provides the proper nutrition and intervention to counteract all of the potential concerns posed by enjoying the summer sun. For the purposes of this blog, however, I can only name a few.
We naturally prevent UV damage to the hair and scalp by supporting the body’s production of keratin and melanin. I wrote an earlier blog about grey hair (https://neilnaturopathic.com/blogs/neil-heals/greying-hair) and talked about two major ingredients in all our shampoos and conditioners, kelp and blue-green algae (spirulina) that have been scientifically proven to provide the nutritive elements and value to protect and preserve the production and metabolism of keratin and melanin in the body, both of which, are readily damaged by the sun. In addition, all of our shampoos and conditioners contain pure keratin itself, procured from sheep wool, to help repair, replenish and supply this invaluable structural protein.
In order to protect the hair and scalp during summer we need moisturizers and emollients that seal in moisture and reverse drying effects. Neil Naturopathic uses the “trinity oils”: Hempseed oil; Olive oil; and Apricot oil, which can be beneficial for every hair and scalp type. These oils have been used successfully for centuries for their medicinal and cosmetic properties. Hempseed oil is Nature’s miracle oil for the perfect balance of the essential fatty acids Omega’s 3, 6, 9 that serve as some of the body’s most important regulatory agents. Omega’s are known and proven to improve hydration, regulate skin and hair oil production, subdue skin eruptions and wounds, minimize signs of aging, reduce inflammation, while also stimulating thicker, longer, and more elastic hair. Hempseed oil contains vitamins and other crucial fatty acids that makes the skin feel supple as opposed to tight, provides additional skin protection, and promotes faster cell regeneration. Hempseed oil contains: linoleic acid known for it’s anti-inflammatory properties, and supporting the growth of healthier stronger hair; stearic acid which has exceptional cleansing properties that purge dirt, perspiration, and hardened sebum from the hair and scalp, while conditioning properties provide protection without diminishing luster; and palmitic acid, which is the essential fatty acid known for its emollient properties to aid in moisturizing the hair and scalp. Apricot oil is known for it’s anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-septic, and anti-oxidant properties. Apricot oil is high in carotenoids and antioxidants, and exceptionally rich in vitamins, especially vitamins A, B, C, and E all of which are reparatory to damaged hair and scalps. In addition, Apricot oil is rich with the same beneficial linoleic acid, stearic acid, and palmitic acid found in hempseed oil. Olive oil has been used for centuries as an antibacterial agent, anti-inflammatory agent, cleanser, moisturizer, and massage oil as well as for its beneficial and healthy culinary delights. Olive oil is high in carotenoids and antioxidants, oleic acid (omega 9), linoleic acid (omega 6), alpha-linolenic acid (omega 3), palmitic acid, stearic acid, polyphenols, squalene and vitamin E. All of these omega oils, acids, vitamins and carotenoids each by themselves have been proven to aid in healing and restoring the hair and scalp, however the synergistic combination provides even faster and more comprehensive therapeutic recovery to itchy, devitalized, and wounded scalps as well as demineralized and damaged hair. The carotenoids are known for their antioxidant properties as well as for preventing cellular damage; protecting the scalp and hair from environmental toxins; repairing damage caused by UV radiation and signs of aging; regenerating the skin by boosting the scalps collagen and elastin production to increase thickness, elasticity and firmness; and hydrating the hair and scalp by reducing water loss. The polyphenols in olive oil contribute scent and antioxidant properties, soothe inflammation, repair dry damaged scalps, improve hair and scalp elasticity (especially in premature aging cases), enhance moisture levels, and boost circulation to the scalp to enhance cell and hair growth. Olive oil contains great amounts of squalene, which is chemically similar to human sebum and is able to regulate the production of sebum in the scalp, soften and protect the scalp, and moisturize and protect the hair and scalp against aging. It’s easy to see how these oils can be incredibly protective and healing for hair that has to face the harshness of the summer sun and activities.
Especially during summer, Neil Naturopathic recommends using our shampoos and conditioners prophylactically and therapeutically. They are designed to be used daily or as much as possible, as both nutrition and natural protection is cumulative. We recommend using our conditioners not only after shampooing, but also separately as a mask to be left on for at least 20 minutes. Our lightweight conditioner is also a leave-in conditioner styling cream. Learn why our conditioners are different and superior to others at: https://neilnaturopathic.com/blogs/neil-heals/why-neil-naturopathic-conditioner-is-different-from-others.
In addition during summer, Neil Naturopathic recommends our Elixir Oil to heal and protect the scalp: https://neilnaturopathic.com/blogs/neil-heals/stimulate-your-scalp-with-our-elixir-oil and our Potion Oil to use as a deep conditioning agent, prevent summer frizz, and heal split ends: https://neilnaturopathic.com/blogs/neil-heals/deep-condition-with-our-potion-oil. Both of these oils are protective and healing from damages done from summer living.
Here are a few other summer tips from Neil Naturopathic. It is always recommended to cover the hair and scalp if you’re going to be exposed to the sun for long periods of time rather than put on chemical sunscreens. Wear hairstyles that are not constrictive especially when getting the hair wet, i.e. tight pony tails. Minimize blow dryers and styling irons and allow possibly for more air-drying. Don’t brush wet hair. Avoid coloring and chemical treatments. Stay away from chemical products to style the hair. Be careful, and if you do sustain summer damage to the hair and scalp use Neil Naturopathic products to reverse the harmful effects. Above all else, have fun and spread joy.