Real Simpleanswers your questions.

By Real Simple
Updated July 21, 2009
Paul Sunday

Q. Are there any hair-care products that protect hair from the sun and other elements?

Michelle Hinrichs

Belleville, Illinois

A. When you’re outside, elements ravage your hair. “The sun dries out all its natural oils, the wind creates split ends, and pollution leaves hair dull and lifeless,” says Wendy Iles, a New York City hairstylist. These factors not only damage your hair but also cause highlights and color to fade.

First things first: If your hair is already a bit fried, go to a salon and have the stylist trim off all the split ends. “If they are badly broken, no product will reseal them completely,” says Iles. Then start over using moisturizing and protective products. Once a week give parched strands a jump start with a moisturizing hair mask. Try Kerastase Oléo-Relax Daily Treatment Masque for Dry Rebellious Hair ($58,

Next, maintain healthy, shiny hair (even under a beating sun) by using effective products. “Shampoos and conditioners are the building blocks of great hair,” says Iles. Number 4 L’Eau de Mer Hydrating Shampoo ($45, and Condition ($48, contain vitamins C and B5 and acai-berry antioxidants that protect hair (and color) against environmental aggressors like sun, wind, and pollution (not to mention the scorching effects of heat styling). Also look for rich moisturizers like jojoba on the ingredient list; these will leave hair soft and silky. In general, it’s best to steer clear of sudsy shampoos as these strip color and wash away natural, hydrating oils. Instead use a detergent-free shampoo, which is more gentle on hair (look for “sulfate-free” on the bottle).

Finally, spritz a leave-in conditioner through damp strands for another burst of hydration and UV protection. “Spray types are best because they aren’t greasy and won’t weigh hair down,” says Iles. Paul Mitchell Color Protect Locking Spray ($11, for salons) contains sunflower seed extract, a natural UVA and UVB filter that shields hair against sun damage and gives it shine. Once you’re outside, keep strands from whipping around in split-end–causing windy conditions by pulling hair back into a bun. ―Sarah Smith

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