If you love the sun, there’s no better season than summer. There’s nothing quite like slathering on some sunscreen and stretching out on the beach or by the pool to soak up those rays. By the end of the summer, many people find that, in addition to a tan, they also have lighter hair. What is it about summer that brings out those natural highlights?
There are a couple of reasons you might find your locks lightening in the summer. If you’re just spending time outdoors, the sun is likely bleaching it. Hair gets its color from a pigment called melanin. When hair is exposed to sunlight, that melanin breaks down and fades your hair color. This type of hair lightening is called photobleaching. Gene testing company 23 & Me says that there are dozens of genes that affect photobleaching, and it’s more common in people of European descent.
If you’re spending time swimming, this can also lighten your hair. Salt water and chlorine affect keratin, another protein found in hair, so if you’re swimming laps you might also see your hair getting lighter.
Your hair is also more likely to turn blonde if it’s on the light side to begin with. Just as with hair dyeing, it’s more difficult for darker hair to turn light. If you have dark hair, you might not notice a big color change in the summer, so your best bet to get blonde hair is a trip to the salon.
If you are one of the lucky people who goes blonde in summer and can’t wait to get those sun-kissed highlights, there are a couple of ways to speed up the hair lightening process. Lemon juice is acidic and, when working with the sun’s UV rays, can help break that melanin down faster. Hydrogen peroxide can also help lighten your hair, but be careful. While all these methods of hair lightening might seem more natural than using hair dye, your hair can’t get lighter without suffering some damage. If your hair is getting lighter in the summer, you should take special care of it. Pamper your hair with a hair mask and try to avoid straighteners and curlers in order to help it stay healthy.
The good news is that long as you’re taking proper care of your hair, there’s no reason you can’t relax by the pool with a refreshing summer drink, soaking up the sun as your hair slowly turns blonde.