Ultraviolet Rays Can Make Your Hair Dry (Part 3 of 10)

In part 2, we talked about the effects of UV radiation on the hair, and today we will talk about how photo-oxidation denatures the protein in your hair.


Photo-oxidation targets the cystine amino acid in keratin protein which is converted to cysteic acid.  This is what is referred to as denaturing of protein.  This will result in the fusing together of the cuticle surface, which will gradually open/crack and eventually lead to cuticle loss due to loss of strength and flexibility.


Photo-oxidation of the lipids really is the oxidation of polyunsaturated fatty acids. For this discussion we will limit the definition of lipids to essential fatty acids.  The mechanism is oxidation of the double bonds for mono and poly unsaturated fatty acids (lipids).  With the loss of the cement that holds the cuticle in alignment, the cuticles open and allow further damage to occur at the cortex.


While it is true that dark hair is less susceptible to UV damage than blonde hair (due to melanin content),  damage still can occur as a result of overexposure to sunlight. Visible radiation is responsible for bleaching, i.e., the oxidation, of melanin of the hair. It’s the combination of damage to the protein, lipid and melanin that results in dryness and increased porosity.  The hair rapidly losses tensile strength and breakage occurs.


Let’s conclude this discussion with “so what”.  What does this mean to you??  Why is this important to the health of your hair?  Remember, UV stress leads to misalignment of cuticles, which leads to hair dryness, and ultimately hair breakage.  We are not proposing that UV stress is the only cause of hair damage.  We are merely educating people on the 6 possible causes of hair damage and breakage.  In actuality, it is normally a combination of several types of stresses, which results in breakage.  Our hopes are that you will be thinking about your daily activities as it relates to UV exposure.   This will be an open forum and please feel free to ask questions.


  1. Here’s some discussion questions you may want to think about.
  2. How much time do you spend in sunlight during your daily activities?
  3. Do you know the effect of seasons on your hair as it relates to UV radiation?
  4. Do you know at what time of the day is UV radiation is the strongest?
  5. Do you live near water, snow or sand?
  6. Do you understand how reflection can increase UV radiation?
  7. What sunscreen protection are you currently using?
  8. Tip: A simple hat is the best protection!Do you live in a high altitude location?
  9. Do you know the relationship between UV exposure and altitude?
  10. Do you use tanning salons or sun lamps?
  11. Do you protect your hair during tanning sessions?
  12. What type of lighting do you use at home, school or in the office?
  13. Did you know that Mercury Vapor Lighting is a source of UV radiation?
  14. Where do you live in relation to the equator?


This discussion will be food for thought for how to think about UV stress.  After all the types of hair stress have been discussed (Yes, we have five more to cover), we will cover how to prevent or minimize the damaging effects of stress.  When we discuss the solutions it will be in the context of products and ingredients.  We will look at each product type and discuss the pros and cons as it relates to the 6 hair stresses.   We will also look at current products on the market and why you should consider a natural alternative (CUSH).  Again, this approach is from the perspective of ensuring healthy hair.  If you know how hair is damaged, then you can use products that will minimize the possibility of damage/breakage.


Our next discussion (part 4) will be on thermal stress!  Leave the flat irons and blow dryers home for this discussion :)