All you need to know about hair discolouration

You may have heard murmmers about hair discolouration, and whether you’ve noticed any yourself, here’s our guide to what you REALLY need to know.  Let us dispel a few myths along the way too.

We tend to associate this with going on holiday and spotting your strands going a peachy hue, even a rusty orange or a scary shade of green.  It’s the story your nightmares are made of and it’s more common than you would think.  It’s also not confined to when you go on holiday.

Who else has spotted their new summer clothing with a label like this?

Colour Change Clothing Label

Yep, that’s the infamous orange staining that really won’t come out of your favourite white T-shirt because of sun cream that we’ve just accepted over the years.

Our founder, Victoria, and International Educator, Abigail Nicholls,  have been testing hair, sun creams and water around the globe – and had some very funny looks for the other poolside sunbathers whilst in the process of getting this research; but here’s what they have uncovered.

In the interest of being fair, the team took other hair extension brands on tour too.    This really is an issue across the board for brands, and we share this not in any way to discredit another hair brand, but in the interest of sharing more information and educating everyone to be more aware.

It is a bigger issue for blondes, with ashier blondes taking a salmon hue on, and warmer blondes becoming a brighter, brassy orange.  Often with client’s reporting an issue, the colour change is patchy potentially where the hair hits the shoulders or where you maybe put your hands through your hair regularly.   If it’s just the ends, you might be able to pull off a dip dye look, but ultimately you are going to want to sort this out.

So, what is really going on?  You have three main factors contributing here, so let’s take one at a time.

We are all for protecting our skin first and foremost but how choosy are you when picking your sunscreen?  The NHS guidelines have some interesting information to help and explain the star rating and SPF a little more for you.  But the main ingredients to note are:

  • Avebenzone (Butyl Methoxydibenzoylmethane). An oil-soluble ingredient used in sunscreen products to absorb the full spectrum of UVA rays.
  • Octocrylene is added as a stabiliser as the Avebenzone degrades in light. Together they are found in differing quantities in sun protection; the more you have the higher SPF and star rating your product will have.

There are plenty of sunscreen products for your hair popping up on the market so be wary that these two might have ingredients what will accelerate the colour change effect.

You can see the discolouration effect on Victoria’s nails here whilst testing just here in the UK.   And no, she doesn’t smoke!

Discolouration of nails 

Water is cleaned and filtered, chemicals added, and for different areas of the world, we are trying to manage with issues from differing hard water, alkalinity and pH levels. Water systems abroad often use more chemicals than back home and the water you are dealing with can change between the pool, sea and shower.   So, even if you think you have avoided the chlorine, having a shower on a night will also be causing your hair woes.

“If you can’t drink the water, that kind of gives you an indication about the quality of it.” Victoria

Water Testing

Water testing at the beach in Dubai

  • Hard water has high minerals content.  Minerals such as Iron, Copper, Magnesium, Calcium and Silica, which attach to the hair cells creating the colour for the reaction.
  • Alkalinity and pH Levels  need to be at the slightly acidic level of around 4.5-5 for our skin and hair

Sun worshipper or not, the sun’s UV rays get through everything.    Known for drying out the hair to leave frazzled ends, dull and lifeless locks as well as colour fade.

Fundamentally, the heat from the sun accelerates the chemical reaction going on between the sun cream and mineral water deposits.

Want to see more?   Head to our Instagram TV channel and you can see Victoria testing sea water in Dubai and explaining more about the issue.



Essentially, the colour change is as a result of a chemical reaction.  The suncream, mixed with the water minerals and speeded up by sunshine, brings about the colour change we see.

When testing hair extensions with various sun cream products (all with different levels of Octocrylene & Avebenzone) in the sunshine and chlorinated pool water, a colour change will start.   When the sun cream is absorbed into the hair and exposed to the UV light, it causes the cells to break down in a process known as Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS). The cells break down and seek out electon particles to form a new cell structure.

So wherever you are in the world enjoying the sunshine and protecting your skin properly with sun cream, just think to protect your hair too to ensure the cream does not come into contact with your colour hair and hair extensions.  Wash your hands after applying suncream and remember our other preventative top tips.

Well, prevention is better than cure as they say, so read more with three tips to ensure your hair escapes the hair curse.  If you are in need of a quick fix then you need to invest in some Malibu C sachets and watch our short video to show you how to use them properly.

FIX TOP TIP   You need 1 sachet for 25g of hair. So, if you have a full head of extensions, make sure you buy enough sachets.

Don’t believe us?   Dedicated RC Stylist from Sea Pony thought the same but was so overwhelmed by the fix she wrote us a blog on her experience.  Read it here. 

Summer is surely our favourite time of year and we are looking forward to a glorious one here.  Just be a little wiser now before you head out and feel good, from those lovely sun’s rays, but that you now are converted to protecting your hair properly from the sunshine.

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