Beyond Skin Deep: UV Damage to Hair and Nails and How to Protect Them

Ella Feb 29, 2024
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Female nails uv protection
Table of Contents
  1. The Effects of UV Radiation on Hair
  2. UV Damage to Nails
  3. Protection Is Key
  4. After-Sun Care for Hair and Nails
  5. Conclusion

When we think of UV exposure, we often focus on its impact on our skin. However, it's important to recognize that the harmful effects of UV radiation extend beyond the skin's surface. In this article, let's look into the lesser-known realm of UV damage to hair and nails. Let's explore the scientific research that provides insights into these often-overlooked aspects of sun exposure and offer practical tips for safeguarding your hair and nails from the aging and damaging effects of UV radiation. 

The Effects of UV Radiation on Hair

 U rays shinning on female hair

While our hair doesn't visibly burn or tan like our skin, it is not immune to the detrimental effects of UV radiation.

Prolonged exposure to UV rays can lead to a range of issues for our hair, including:


⛈️ Fading: UV radiation has the capacity to strip away the color molecules in our hair, resulting in faded and lackluster locks.

⛈️ Dryness and Brittle Hair: UV exposure can deplete the natural oils in our hair, leaving it dry, brittle, and susceptible to breakage.

⛈️ Split Ends: The sun's rays can weaken the protein structure of our hair, contributing to split ends and increased frizz.

In addition, a study published Zin et al., 2017 in the International Journal of Trichology in 2017 demonstrated that UV radiation induces structural damage to hair, leading to increased porosity and reduced tensile strength.

UV Damage to Nails

Nails, like hair, can fall victim to the harmful effects of UV radiation. Exposure to UV rays can result in several nail-related issues, such as:


⛈️ Discoloration: UV radiation can cause the nails to yellow and become discolored.

⛈️ Brittleness: Just as with hair, UV exposure can rob the nails of moisture, making them more brittle and prone to breaking and splitting.

⛈️ Thinning: Long-term exposure to UV rays may even lead to thinner nails.

It must be mentioned that a study published by Tian et al., 2016 in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology in 2016 revealed that UV radiation can lead to alterations in nail thickness and surface roughness.

Protection Is Key

 Man wearing sunhat and uv protection

To maintain the health and appearance of your hair and nails, it is imperative to shield them from the detrimental effects of UV radiation.

Here's some tips on how to protect yourself from artificial sources of UV light:


🌞 Use Hair Products with UV Protection: Seek out hair care products such as shampoos, conditioners, and sprays that contain UV filters. These products serve as a barrier against the sun's harmful rays.

🌞 Adopt Protective Hairstyles: When spending extended periods outdoors, consider donning a wide-brimmed hat or wrapping your hair with a scarf for added protection.

🌞 Explore Nail Polish with UV Protection: Certain nail polishes are specially formulated with UV filters to safeguard your nails from sun-induced damage. Applying these polishes can help preserve the health of your nails.

🌞 Keep Nails Short: Maintaining shorter nails can reduce the surface area exposed to UV radiation, decreasing the risk of damage. If you prefer longer nails, consider applying a UV-protective topcoat.

🌞 Wear protective clothing or covers, for instance, UV protective gloves for your gel manicure appointment:

UV protection gloves for manicure

After-Sun Care for Hair and Nails

If your hair or nails have already been exposed to UV radiation, there are steps you can take to mitigate the damage:


🌞 Hair Masks: Utilize deep-conditioning hair masks to restore moisture and shine to sun-exposed hair. These treatments can help revitalize your locks.

🌞 Nail Care: Apply a nourishing cuticle oil and moisturize your nails and cuticles regularly to counteract dryness and brittleness.


While we often prioritize protecting our skin from UV damage, it is equally important to recognize the impact of UV radiation on our hair and nails. UV-related damage can manifest as faded hair, brittle nails, and other aesthetic concerns. By understanding these risks and adopting protective measures, you can enjoy the sun's warmth without compromising the health and beauty of your hair and nails!💗

Found this post useful?

👉🏿👉🏻Check out my previous post about how your geographic location and time of the day affects the strength of UV rays: UV Protection: Geographic Location & Time Effects

Table of Contents
  1. The Effects of UV Radiation on Hair
  2. UV Damage to Nails
  3. Protection Is Key
  4. After-Sun Care for Hair and Nails
  5. Conclusion