REPAIRING SUN DAMAGED HAIR
I did something dumb you guys. Shocking right? Yea I know. The capital of Nicaragua, Managua, is about 839 miles from the equator. I lived in Granada which was about an hour outside of the capital. Needless to say the sun was extremely strong and it could be unbearably hot. Most of the volunteering I did while there required me to be outside in the direct sun. It was rough, but doable. What I didn’t realize is the toll the sun was taking on my hair. If you know anything about me I hate, despise, loathe, and any other word you could think in that category, hats. Can’t stand em. Not only do they make my forehead itch (dead serious on this one), but it’s a struggle trying to get my hair to fit into them. Well you take that mentality to a country that sits not too far from the equator and what do you get? Sun damaged hair.
Before leaving for Nicaragua I got my hair put into braids. Like I’ve mentioned before my intention was to stay 3 months. I figured I would get braids, keep them for that period of time and then take them down when I got home. Keeping braids for 3 months is not ideal but hey, it was a one time thing. When I made the decision to stay longer, the decision and annoying task of taking down my braids came with it. When taking my hair out of braids it’s necessary to nurse it back to health. Yes braids are considered a “protective style” because you’re not constantly manipulating your hair, but depending on how consistent and dedicated you are to maintaining your hair while its in braids has a direct bearing on how protective that style is. I’m lazy. So for the most part when I take braids out my hair is dry, extremely tangled, and dirty. Just keeping it real. Fortunately for me when I decided to take my braids down my friend Ashley was coming to Nica to visit me. She bore the burden of bringing my arsenal of natural hair supplies with her. It cost her extra but I’d like to think I’m worth it. Don’t ask her what she thinks. My go to style is a wash and go. I had everything I needed to give my hair the attention it so desperately needed. Creams, deep conditioners, oils. Everything. The first couple times of styling my hair it was fine! At least it SEEMED fine. Over time I started to notice a considerable change. The hair right behind my ears and at the top of my head was extremely dry and wouldn’t hold a curl or any moisture. It was just all frizz.
As time went on it got worse. I had no idea what was going on. It’s frustrating and confusing when your hair makes a sudden change and you don’t have an explanation for it. I started to notice certain parts of my hair lightening in color too. Strands went from black to brown. In all honesty I thought it was pretty. Natural highlights! Little did I know it was sun damage. Because I was in direct sunlight so much it started to take a not so nice toll on the health of my hair. All the deep conditioning in the world wouldn’t work unless I protected my hair from the sun.
Unfortunately I discovered the sun damage a little bit too late. The damage was done. Now that I’m home I’ve been giving my hair a little extra TLC. I’m happy to say it’s almost 100% back to it’s normal state. So how exactly do you go about repairing natural hair?
Deep condition, deep condition, deep condition. I really can’t stress how important that is. Deep conditioning restores lost moisture to your dry strands when it’s sun damaged. Your hair is able to lock that moisture in, helping to bring life back into your limp and dry curls. Deep conditioning once a week for 30 minutes is a serious game changer. You’ll start to notice a difference in your hair almost immediately in my opinion.
Use Aloe Vera. Rub it on the damaged parts of your hair and let it sit for about 30 mins. A friend actually recommended that to me. Shout-out to Toni! Aloe vera helps with sunburn so why wouldn’t it help with repairing sun damaged hair? There are even hair masks containing aloe vera that you can use to help your dry locks come back to life.
Co-Wash. Don’t Shampoo. Co-washing your hair is skipping the shampoo and cleansing your hair with conditioner. Shampoo tends to strip hair of moisture which is what you don’t want when dealing with sun damaged hair. You want to put moisture in and retain it. Co-washing helps you do that. When I got back home I started co-washing twice a week. I wanted to get and keep as much moisture in my hair as possible.
Cover your hair at night and in the day if you’re in the sun! Not wearing anything to protect my hair from the sun is what got me in this mess in the first place. If I could go back I would definitely use an umbrella so that the sun wouldn’t be directly hitting my hair. Not only is it important to protect your hair from the elements but it’s also important to protect your hair while sleeping. Covering your hair with a satin scarf or bonnet is the way to go! That material helps your hair from breaking and it also helps to keep the moisture in your hair and not on your pillow case.
I’m happy to say that my hair is doing A LOT better now. My curls are coming back to life and I couldn’t be more excited about it. Take a look!
WHAT TIPS DO YOU HAVE FOR REPAIRING SUN DAMAGED HAIR?