Image of hair extension affected by sunscreen.  Brassy tones evident on the right side  of hair.

A hair extension’s worst enemy? sunscreen.

Ever wonder why, despite following all the right steps you take for your extensions, they still end up turning into a not so flattering brassy orange or pink? You might want to take a look at your sunscreen. Yup, your sunscreen! While sunscreens are great for your skin, it isn’t the same case for your hair extensions.


What happens when sunscreen comes in contact with your hair? 


Most sunscreens contain Avobenzone (Butyl Methoxydibenzoylmethane) and Octocrylene. 

Avobenzone works as a very effective protectant against UVB and UVA rays, but only for  approximately 30 minutes as its abilities become degrading once exposed to sunlight. For this reason, Octocrylene is added to the formula as a stabiliser for it to work longer.                                                                         

Because they are such active ingredients, when exposed to water, the minerals in the water attach to the broken down cells in the hair extensions, causing a reaction that makes the hair discolour into such brassy tones.


How do you avoid this chemical reaction?


The best way to avoid this reaction, is opting out your regular sunscreen for a mineral sunscreen that does not contain Avobenzone or Octocrylene. This is a tested sunscreen type that not only filters out damaging UVB and UVA Rays, it blocks any unintended reaction towards the skin and hair. It is FDA approved, meaning it is completely safe to use.

The Australasian markets tend to mainly sell these anyways, as these sunscreens are typically safer to use around water as they are “reef friendly”, especially considering there is so much marine life around our waters. But is always best to double check, when purchasing, that you are in fact choosing the sunscreens that opt out the Avobenzone and Octocrylene ingredients for a more reef friendly formula. It’s basically a win-win for both your hair and the environment.

The more basic habits to incorporate to avoid the discolouration of your hair would be to cleanse your hands of any sunscreen residue before touching your hair.

Another solution would be to put your hair up and away from your body. A bun or high ponytail is ideal in avoiding your hair come in contact with your skin.


What can you do if your hair has already come in contact with sunscreen?


If it’s too late and your hair has already come in contact with the sunscreen, the first step would be to use a deep cleansing shampoo, to thoroughly wash out any sunscreen residue left in your hair.

Then go in with Malibu C hard water treatment and apply to the affected areas. Follow the instructions on the sachet and leave it in for the recommended amount of time before washing it out.

Blonde extensions are lot more affected by discolouration as they are lighter making the discolouration more transparent to the eye. In this case, go in with a purple shampoo and leave it in for 1-2 mins before washing it out, to get rid of any leftover warm pigments. Be wary of leaving it in for too long and turning your hair purple.

After you’ve completed these steps, go in with an intensive conditioning mask and heat protector.

Then lastly, you may cleanse out your hair and style as normal.

If there’s not a significant difference in lifting the discolouration out of your hair extensions you might have to repeat the steps 2-3 times, before you reach your desired results.

Keep in mind hair extensions are not your natural hair, they won’t receive the nutrients that comes from your scalp which act as a protective barrier. Therefore, they are much more prone to discolouration, meaning there would be plenty more factors to them harsh pink and brassy tones than just sunscreen. These include but not limited to hard water, sea water, chlorine, and sun exposure. So do keep that in mind, the next time you head out for a nice day at the beach. The best thing you can do is to put your hair up and away in a scarf or other protective headwear. Now it gives your hair protection from the sun and your skin all whilst looking like a stylish bombshell.

Leave a comment

Hair extensions for short hair
Ethically sourced human hair: the superior hair promise
Iconic hairstyles of influential women: inspiration for your hair journey