How to Repair Sun Damaged Hair, According to Hairstylists

Updated: Feb. 26, 2021

Hairstylists offer expert tips for restoring and repairing sun damaged hair, from getting a trim to using leave-in hair conditioners.

Our editors and experts handpick every product we feature. We may earn a commission from your purchases.

How you can repair sun damage to hair

If you’ve been going to the beach, taking a dip in a pool, or simply sitting outside in your backyard or on your rooftop, your hair and skin may have spent a lot of time in the sun. You may be enamored with your dewy, sun-kissed complexion, but if you look closely at your hair, you’ll likely notice the heat, chlorine, seawater, and sun have left you in need of hair repair.

The sun damage has probably left your hair dry, brittle, and limp, but luckily, there are ways you can restore your hair back to health.

We spoke with hairstylists about how to reverse sun damage to hair to keep it looking healthy.

trim at the salon
Samo Trebizan/shutterstock

Trim your tresses

When it comes to repairing hair from sun damage, you should trim your tresses. This is not just because your hair actually grows 10 to 15 percent faster during the summer months (which is one of the many weird hair facts you probably didn’t know). “If you have sun-damaged hair that feels dry and has a straw-like texture, it’s time for a trim,” says Sandrine Bucarelli, advanced stylist at Julien Farel Restore Salon & Spa in New York City.

Waiting too long can cause split ends to creep upwards and cause further damage. Trying to grow your locks? Not to worry, you don’t have to chop your coif to reap the benefits of a trim. One inch or less is enough to create shape and get rid of the split ends.

“A good solid trim is a great jump-start to really caring for your hair,” adds Stefani Padilla, stylist and founder of La Tierra Sagrada. After the trim, follow up with a product regimen for sun-damaged hair, including a moisturizing shampoo, conditioner, and styling products.

shampoo conditioner

Use moisturizing shampoo and conditioner

Hair repair from sun damage is desperate for hydration. To help replace moisture, Padilla suggests a shampoo and conditioner—just make sure you’re using it right—with nourishing oils like coconut, jojoba, and argan.

“Try to find products without the added sulfates and parabens. These toxic ingredients tend to strip the hair. The key is to protect natural oil and add more nutrient-rich, hydrating ingredients.” Try: La Tierra Sagrada shampoo and conditioner or Herbal Essences Bio:Renew Hydrate Coconut Milk shampoo and conditioner. (Also, make sure you’re not committing these hair mistakes.)

Hair gloss
Samo Trebizan/Shutterstock

Go for a hair gloss

Sun exposure and salt can make hair look brassy. The solution? If committing to a full color revamp is too much, Padilla suggests an in-salon hair gloss. “This is a semi-permanent color that counteracts business, replenishes shine, seals the ends, and makes the hair smooth again.” (Try these stylist-approved tricks to get shiny hair.)

treatment mask

Try a hair mask treatment

After a summer of harmful sun, chlorine, and salt-water damage, it’s important to re-hydrate the scalp and strands. You could try an at-home avocado hair treatment, or do what Padilla recommends: A nutrient-rich hair mask treatment with protective oils, kinds of butter, and extracts to replenish sun-damaged hair and dry, frizzy locks. Try La Tierra Sagrada Hair Treatment or R+Co Palm Springs Pre-Shampoo Treatment Mask. (Here’s how to repair damaged hair with items that are already in your home.)

woman straightening hair
Chakrapong Worathat / EyeEm/Getty Images

Take a break from heat styling

You already know that heat styling can cause major damage. And if you already have sun-damaged hair, it’s that much more susceptible. It’s best to give your hair a break for a few weeks. There are tons of no-heat styles that’ll leave your strands looking great. Justine Marjan, beauty influencer and celebrity hairstylist, recommends braids with a leave-in conditioner (Try: It’s a 10 Potion 10 Miracle Instant Repair Leave-In or Kristin Ess Weightless Shine Leave-In Conditioner). “You can sleep in them and take them out in the morning for natural looking waves.”

silk pillowcase
Svetlana Lukienko/Shutterstock

Switch to a silk pillowcase

“Cotton pillowcases are absorbent and can actually draw moisture out of your hair and skin while you’re sleeping,” explains Marjan. Silk won’t, leaving your hair silky smooth. Added bonus: It also reduces knots and extends your blowout. Try: The Hollywood Silk Solution Silk Pillowcase or Spasilk 100% Pure Silk Pillowcase. (Check out the other silk pillowcase benefits you’ll get from switching over.)

woman drying hair

Rebalance your scalp

Itchy scalp? There are several reasons as to why your scalp itches—or it could need exfoliation and hydration, just like the rest of your skin. Bucarelli recommends using Julien Farel Hydrate Restore one a week (in lieu of shampoo and conditioner) to cleanse, moisturize, and balance pH. An exfoliating scalp scrub, like R+Co Crown Scalp Scrub, is another great way to detox and rebalance.

scalp massage

Massage your scalp regularly

Pros agree that regular scalp massage is a must. “Tension in the scalp can cause hair to grow in weaker, slower, and more fragile,” explains Marjan. He recommends taking a few minutes every day to massage your scalp in a circular motion to stimulate circulation. And once a week incorporate a nourishing oil into your ritual.

hair supplement
Maryna Pleshkun/shutterstock

Consider a hair supplement

What you eat impacts your skin and strands. Damaged strands need extra TLC. Marjan suggests adding a supplement to your daily routine to promote thick, shiny, and healthy hair from the inside, out. Try HUM Red Carpet or OLLY Undeniable Beauty. (Next, learn how diet affects hair and scalp health.)