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Sunscreen and Hair Extensions

Have you ever wondered why your blonde hair extensions have turned pink/orange? You have worn the same extensions all winter, but now the weather has warmed up all of a sudden and your hair extensions seem to be changing colour overnight? The answer is surprisingly simple, it's your sunscreen.


With the hotter weather comes the need to protect your skin from the sun's harmful rays with suncream, however many do not realise that whilst sunscreen does a great job at protecting your skin, you will need to take the necessary measures to protect your hair from your suncream.

What Ingredient In Sunscreen Causes My Hair To Change Colour

Sunscreens are full of different ingredients, however there are two in particular that cause big problems, and these are Avebenzone, sometimes called Butyl Methoxydibenzoylmethane, and Octocrylene.


Avebenzone is a very common chemical used in the production of suncream, as it protects against UVB rays as well as UVA rays. While Avenbenzone is an effective protectant against UVB and UVA rays, once exposed to the sun it only offers protection for around 30 minutes, and therefore in order to prevent this, Octocrylene is added so that it works for longer.


The exact reason that these two ingredients have such an extreme reaction when exposed to your hair is that it is an active ingredient. If it is combined with water that has a high iron content, which is most of the water we shower in, the iron in the water can cause oxidation, aka a rust stain. This is why exposing your hair to sunscreen over a number of days during hot weather will cause this chemical reaction, and the end result...pink/orange hair extensions.

How can I protect my hair extensions from being stained by sunscreen?

Put simply, there are only two effective ways to stop this from happening. The first is avoiding your hair extensions from touching your sunscreen, but this is more complicated than it sounds. As hair extensions are usually long, they will more than likely brush against your body when you have applied the sunscreen, and as you will more than likely sweat, throughout the day the sunscreen will make its way onto your hair via perspiration. Further to this, if you are wearing your hair extensions down, you are more likely to run your fingers through your hair, further depositing more sunscreen residue onto your hair, as well as sweat and moisture which will continue to accelerate the process. To avoid this from happening, it would be best to keep your hair secured in a bun, so that it is away from your skin.


The second way to protect yourself from suncream staining your hair extensions is to purchase an Avenbenzone free sunscreen. These are naturally more pricey, as they are of higher quality with more expensive ingredients, but it is worth the purchase to protect your hair extensions from sunscreen.

Sunscreen, Hair Extensions and Coral Reefs

One common question that is often asked by hair extension wearers is why is this problem so common in the UK, but for hair extension wearers in Australia, for example, this rarely occurs, and there is a simple explanation for this.


Avenbenzone is found in the majority of UK-based sunscreens, as it is an FDA-approved, cost-effective ingredient for sunscreens, however in order for this ingredient to be effective, it must be paired with Octocrylene, known to be damaging to marine life. Ingredients like this can impair growth and photosynthesis, bleach, damage, and deform coral, cause defects in young mussels, damage the immune and reproductive systems of sea urchins, decrease fertility and reproduction in fish, and accumulate in the tissue of dolphins.


Australia is home to the largest coral reef system in the world, so there is a clear and urgent need to ensure Avenbenzone and Octocrylene free sunscreens are available to Australians, as a way to prevent this type of damage. Therefore many Australians, perhaps without even realising it, will purchase sunscreen free from these ingredients, and therefore not struggle with the side effects it can cause to their hair extensions. Many sunscreens in Australia are marketed as “reef friendly”, further increasing the chances of these being the sunscreen of choice over those that are not eco friendly. Protecting our waters from Avenbenzone is less of an urgent issue in the UK due to our waterways only containing 1 known reef, and therefore manufacturers will often continue to use Avenbenzone in their formulas, and UK customer are unlikely to know they need to look out for it...until now.

What To Do If Your Hair Extensions Have Turned Pink/Orange From Sunscreen Staining

If you have experienced suncream staining and your hair extensions are now pink/orange, don't worry, your hair extensions can be salvaged. Follow our step-by-step process below to correct the staining, and return your hair extensions to their original colour.


Step 1: Wash your hair thoroughly with shampoo to clean out any products which may be on the hair's surface.

Step 2: Use one sachet of Malibu C hard water treatment, and massage the product into the affected areas. Leave for the recommended amount of time, before rinsing your hair extensions.

Step 3: Use a purple shampoo to neutralise any remaining warm pigment in your hair extensions, ensuring you only leave the shampoo on the hair for no more than a minute to ensure purple staining does not occur.

Step 4: Use an intensive conditioning mask and leave on your hair extensions for as long as possible, avoiding the conditioner from reaching your roots and bonds.

Step 5: Rinse your hair extensions clean, and blow-dry as normal.

Optional Step 6: You should see a considerable difference in the staining of your hair extensions, however depending on the severity of the staining, you may need to repeat this process 2-3 times to completely clean away any staining.



1. Skincare Chemicals and Coral Reefs