Does Tanning Cause Hair Loss?

Summer might be prime time for tanning, but that doesn’t mean you should lay out on the beach for hours without protecting your skin and hair. Excessive sun exposure can lead to premature aging, dryness, rashes, sunburns, eye damage and skin cancer.

While there are dozens of reasons why extreme baking and bronzing should be avoided, hair loss isn’t one of them. Hair loss transpires when follicles are damaged, changed or disrupted by genetics, hormones, immunity or physical impact. Because hair follicles are located beneath the scalp and skin, sun exposure – natural or synthetic – does not directly contribute to hair loss. There is no scientific evidence to suggest that the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can activate an otherwise absent hair loss condition such as androgenic alopecia or telogen effluvium. But, those with hair loss might want to take extra precaution when spending time outdoors when temperatures are high and the sun is beaming.

Tanning and Hair Damage

When struggling with hair loss, preserving existing hair health is imperative. Research shows that excessive sun exposure manipulates hair shafts, which are the visible strands that emerge from follicles. Tanning is one of the most frequent causes of hair shaft impairment. Excessive tanning or overexposure to the sun is linked to hair damage.¹

Do you ever notice your hair lightening during the summer or while on vacation? That’s because the sun’s rays damage the cuticle, or outer layer, that protects the inner layer of each hair shaft. Then, those rays break down the melanin within the inner layer where your hair’s pigment, or color, lives. When melanin levels drop, shafts lose their strength and luster.² Together, UVA and UVB rays are responsible for both hair protein loss and hair color fluctuations.

Consider how excessive tanning can make your hair look and feel:

  • Split ends
  • Coarseness
  • Dryness
  • Brittle strands
  • Breakage
  • Bleaching

To protect your hair from the sun, wear a hat. This is particularly important if you have an advanced hair loss condition with balding and extensive scalp exposure. Otherwise, you’re leaving your scalp susceptible to skin damage and, potentially, skin cancer. You can also use a sunscreen on the top of your head, preferably a transparent spray with SPF 30 or higher. Unlike creams, sunscreen sprays are discreet and far less messy.

Needlessly damaging your hair is never a good idea, but excessive sun exposure is especially consequential for individuals coping with distressing hair loss conditions. When undergoing a hair loss treatment like laser hair therapy, a technology that re-nourishes sluggish hair follicles to initiate hair regrowth, doing everything in your power to maintain a healthy environment for follicles to thrive is key.

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