Sun protection for the hair: 9 UV hair saviours

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Sun protection for the hair: 9 hair shields that act as ‘invisible hats'

The products on this page have been chosen by our editorial team. If you buy something we recommend we may earn an affiliate commission.

Protecting your hair in the sun might not seem as vital as shielding your skin, but if you want to keep your hair healthy  and your colour glossy, UV hair protection is a must. It's not just for coloured hair either – even natural hair needs a spritz to shield it.

“The UV rays can cause damage to the outside cuticle of the hair,” explains Katie Allan from Charles Worthington Salons. “Not only will it discolour your hair, it will make it feel dry and brittle resulting in split ends.” Too much sun exposure is even more dangerous for scalps which, like any part of the body that has skin, is susceptible to sunburn , sensitivity and even worse, skin cancer .

While wearing a hat is the best form of protection, there are some effective alternatives for helping shield hair and scalp from the elements. For hair, try a spray or cream with in-built UV absorbers or filters. For scalp and partings, treat them as you would the rest of your body and use your face sunscreen or try an SPF mist instead if you’re worried about greasy roots .

Acting as ‘invisible hats’ of sorts to protect hair from summer burnout, here are our top product picks.

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Philip Kingsley Swimcap Water Resistant Mask, £19.50 for 75ml

Great for: Sun and swimming

Originally created for the US Olympic synchronised swim team, this cult product has undergone a bit of a summer makeover (packaging-wise) to provide ample waterproof protection against sun, pool and sea. A rich leave-in cream containing UV filters designed to tackle the dryness and discolouration caused by chlorine and salt water, simply apply to damp hair, comb through and rinse off after sunbathing or swimming. Not only is it much easier to put on than a traditional swim cap, but it also looks a lot better too.

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Sachajuan Hair in the Sun, £18.75 for 125ml

Great for: Frizz

This creamy textured sun protectant also doubles up as a handy finishing cream to keep the effects of humidity  to a minimum. Containing a co-polymer which absorbs UV rays, it helps prevent colour and moisture loss and leaves it soft and smooth. It’s especially great for thicker hair types.

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Aveda Sun Care Protective Hair Veil, £18 for 100ml

Great for: Detangling and dryness

Lightweight but moisturising, this daily sun shield contains hydrating shea butter and coconut oil, protective antioxidants (green tea extract and vitamin E for example) and naturally-derived UVA and UVB inhibitors with roots stemming from wintergreen and cinnamon bark. “Plants create many kinds of natural chemistry to help protect themselves from the effects of too much sun - two examples are cinnamates and salicylates,” Aveda’s Global R&D tells us. “Both types of molecule can absorb energy from the sun’s rays. If used on the surface of the hair as in Sun Veil, they will help protect by absorbing some of the UV energy before it can get to and damage the hair.” Helping to minimise colour-fade, dryness and breakage  caused by excess sun exposure, it suits a wide range of hair types when it comes to tackling the summer elements.

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Michael Van Clarke LifeSaver UV Leave-in Styling Treatment, £24.50

Great for: Undone beach hair

This three-in-one buy not only protects your hair from UV rays, but also gives ultra-soft beachy waves (it's salt free, so no crispiness here!) and nourishes your strands too, with cashmere proteins driving deep into the hair shaft to repair and strengthen strands. Even if you're nowhere near the beach, this protects against city pollution too. Just apply to wet hair, air dry or diffuse for mermaid hair that Ariel would envy.

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Vichy Ideal Soleil Solar Protective Water SPF30, £19 for 200ml

Great for: Partings and scalps

Looking after your scalp’s suncare needs needn’t mean that you have to walk around with greasy roots. Fast-absorbing and lightweight, this ingenious SPF water is actually for face and body, but we've found it works for partings and hairlines without leaving a residue or weighing hair down. It's hydrating too thanks to its inclusion of hyaluronic acid .

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Revlon Professional Equave Conditioner, £9.86 for 100ml

Great for: Lightweight protection

This leave-in conditioner sprays out as a light-mist, covering hair with ultra light protection from UVA and UVA rays. It has a fresh and zingy citrus scent that GTG's editorial director Victoria loves and makes light work of stubborn tangles too, a common side effect of summer-ravaged hair.

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Kérastase Soleil Huile Sirène, £22.50 for 150ml

Great for: A summer scent

Kerastase's Soleil range, which also includes a moisturising cream and an aftersun shampoo and conditioning mask, was designed to nurse hair back to health after it's been damaged by the sun and swimming. Enriched with vitamin E and coconut water (so it has the most delicious holiday smell), this light oil mist makes seaside hair extra shiny (none of that dry, crispy texture often associated with beach hair), plus it protects it from UV exposure at the same time. Babasu oil is in the mix too, for its softening powers.

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Living Proof Restore Perfecting Spray, £27 for 236ml

Great for: Wet hair

Designed to protect and detangle wet hair when you're combing or brushing it, this spray doubles up as a UV protector. GTG's digital writer Melanie sprays this liberally on her hair post-wash for smoother, softer hair and the fact that it protects strands from sun exposure is an added bonus!

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Pureology Colour Fanatic Multi-Tasking Spray, £20.10 for 200ml

Great for: Colour-treated hair

Pureology's entire vegan haircare range contains UVA and UVB sunscreens and this does-it-all spray has antioxidants in too to protect colour vibrancy with the brand's signature anti-fade complex. "Coloured hair can be more sensitive to UV rays in the summertime," explains Harriet Muldoon, colourist at Larry King's London salon. This light mist is a must for those days just after you've dyed your hair when it needs extra TLC. It primes, protects, and perfects and we wouldn't style without it post-colour treatment. Scentwise it has a blend of rose, floral ginger, and cedarwood so it's a real treat to use.

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