Protecting your skin in a tanning bed is a must, but you also need to protect your hair too. After a few sessions in a tanning bed, you might notice your hair seems lighter, or there are more streaks of a lighter color, and you could be confused about why this might be happening!
Can tanning beds lighten your hair? Tanning beds can lighten your hair, and it is not just that your hair appears lighter because your skin is now darker from the tan. Your hair, like your skin, also needs protection from UV rays, and without protection, the UV rays can lighten or dry your hair.
To help you understand more about why your hair might lighten in a tanning bed, and what you can do to prevent it, we have covered just about everything you need to know!
Does Tanning In A Tanning Bed Lighten Your Hair?
The ultraviolet rays emitted by tanning bed light bulbs, as well as by the sun, cause damage to your skin and can cause damage to your hair as well.
With controlled exposure to UV rays, you can tan your skin and give your skin a new, darker complexion, and it is easy to assume that the same UV rays would have the same effect on your hair, but it is actually the opposite.
The layers of your skin are made with living skin cells, with only the outermost layer being dead skin cells. When these skin cells are exposed to UV rays, your body responds by producing and releasing melanin, which results in darker skin, and some protection for your skin.
When it comes to your hair, this doesn’t happen, as your hair is made from dead cells, so they are unable to fight the UV rays with melanin production.
This means that when the UV rays hit your hair, there is no protective response, so the UV rays instead oxidize the melanin already in your hair, leaving behind a lighter, almost colorless compound.
Over time and with extended exposure to the UV rays, your hair can lighten.
Are Tanning Beds Bad For Hair?
Tanning beds can be bad for your hair, and the effect they can have on your hair goes past just lightening your strands.
The UV lights can dry your hair out quite substantially, especially if you use a tanning bed often without any protection such as a headband or shower cap.
Hair that has been color-treated or bleached is also at more risk of being dried out by UV rays, so this is definitely something to consider when booking your tanning bed session.
Which Hair Colors Are Lightened Most By Tanning Beds?
All hair colors can be lightened by UV rays, so don’t think that your dark hair will stay dark after an extended time in the sun or tanning bed.
Blonde hair tends to lighten quicker in tanning beds than dark hair does, as it does not contain as much melanin, so the reaction can be seen quicker when the melanin becomes lighter.
However, dark hair can lighten in a tanning bed too. Spending enough time in a tanning bed will cause your hair to lighten, no matter what the shade of your hair is. It would just take longer for darker hair to lighten to a noticeable shade.
Once the UV rays have destroyed the melanin in your hair and have caused your hair to become lighter, it will not go darker again until new hair grows, as the hair cells are not capable of producing more melanin. You could, however, dye over your lightened hair.
Unless you want your hair to lighten in a tanning bed, you should cover up and protect your hair from color fading and from drying out, no matter your hair color.
How To Protect Your Hair From Lightening In A Tanning Bed
Thankfully, there are some really easy ways that you can protect your hair in a tanning bed so that your skin is the only bit that changes color!
Here are the different ways that you can try to protect your hair in a tanning bed, to prevent it from becoming lighter, and to prevent it from drying out.
Use A Shower Cap
It might seem like a ridiculously simple solution, but simply wearing a shower cap in the tanning bed can be a great way to protect your hair!
You can find shower caps, or bonnet caps rather, that have been designed to be used in tanning beds. These help to properly protect your hair from UV rays and help retain moisture in your hair as well.
Thick shower caps, or those that are made for tanning beds, will not allow UV rays to penetrate through so your hair is left as it is.
To use a shower cap or bonnet in a tanning bed, you just need to place your hair in a ponytail and tuck all of this under the cap. Just make sure that the cap does not come too far down your forehead, so a tan line is not created.
Use A Towel
If you do not have a shower cap to use when going into a tanning bed, then you could use a towel.
You can wrap a small towel around your hair and fix it in place just before getting into the tanning bed. Just like with the shower cap, the towel will prevent the UV rays from reaching your hair and doing any damage.
The towel can also act as a comfortable pillow for your head while you are in the tanning bed, which is also a benefit!
Use Heat Protecting Products
Heat protecting products, like our favorite heat protectant from Moroccanoil, can be a real help with keeping your hair in better shape when using a tanning bed. These can be applied on your scalp, on your roots, and down to the tips of your hair, making sure all of your hair is protected.
Use UV Protection Conditioners
There are some conditioners and even shampoos that have been formulated to offer UV protection, like this one from TRUSS, and these are definitely worth looking into if you use a tanning bed often.
Choose a moisturizing conditioner as well, which will help your hair fight against drying in a tanning bed, and offer it a little more protection too.
Use Hair Treatments
Hair treatments are more of a recovery rather than a protection, but when you use tanning beds often, then using treatments in your hair can really help prevent drying and frizziness.
Do a deep conditioning treatment before and after using a tanning bed, just to ensure that your hair is kept hydrated and nourished, and in the best condition possible.
Can I Lighten My Hair More While In A Tanning Bed?
Some people try to avoid their hair becoming lighter in a tanning bed, but you might actually want to try and lighten your hair while tanning.
There are some things you can do to accelerate how quickly your hair lightens when exposed to UV rays, but you must be careful as this could dry your hair out too.
One way you can help your hair lighten quicker is to mix 1 part lemon juice with 2 parts water. Place the mix in a spray bottle and lightly mist the areas of your hair you wish to lighten, or all of your hair if necessary.
The lemon juice will help your hair lighten much quicker, and the added water will help dilute it slightly so it does not dry your hair out too much.
Make sure to rinse your hair properly after the tanning bed session and follow it up with a deeply nourishing conditioning treatment to try and give your hair some moisture again.
Can Tanning Beds Lighten Your Hair?
Your hair can become lighter from extended use of a tanning bed, and it does not actually matter what color your hair is. Darker hair will take longer to lighten in a tanning bed, whereas blonde hair will lighten quicker.
If you want to avoid your hair becoming lighter, then you should use some protection in a tanning bed, such as by placing a shower cap over your hair or using UV-protecting conditioners.
It is important to not forget to protect your hair when tanning in a tanning bed!
How can I naturally lighten my hair?
You can naturally lighten your hair by using apple cider vinegar or lemon juice mixed with some water and applied to your hair, and once applied, you can sit in the sun for 20 minutes every few days.
Make sure to protect your skin with sunscreen while doing this so that your skin does not burn in the process.
Can a tanning bed affect hair extensions?
A tanning bed can affect hair extensions, especially if natural human hair has been used. The UV rays can lighten and dry the hair, and it can weaken the bonds as well.
When tanning with hair extensions, you should cover your hair fully with a shower cap or with a towel.