Sun-in Damages: Sun-in Review
One of the most popular hair lightening/highlighting products is Sun-In. My mom used this product as a teenager, and now it's my turn to use it to lighten my dark blonde locks.
Most people who use sun-in are looking for that sun-kissed, bright and somewhat beachy look, but the truth is, you get what you pay for!
Sun-In is a cheap alternative to professional highlights, and a quicker alternative to laying out in the sun for hours as the sun bleaches your hair. Originally designed for already blonde or light hair, Sun-In may or may not work for your hair type, and it may cause irreversible damage.
Be sure you know your type of hair well, understand the risks, and test the product before you attempt to lighten your own hair.
Types of Hair Sun-In Works On
The cheerful pink bottles that Sun-In comes in state that Sun-In works best on already fair hair, or at the very least, light brown hair. This is extremely important to note, and my friend's cautionary tale will hopefully convince you raven haired girls (or guys) to stay away.
My friend has dark, thick brown hair that's really a naturally gorgeous color. For some reason, she desperately wanted highlights and was resorting to every harsh thing she could think of to dump in her hair: lemon juice, peroxide... and finally, Sun-In.
She sprayed it on liberally and blew her hair dry. It looked vaguely lighter, slightly dryer and...well, normal. A few days later, after hours spent in the sun, I got a panicked text that was pretty close to "MY HAIR IS ORANGE." It was true. Her dark hair had developed messy orange streaks that were permanent.
Long story short: Don't use Sun-In if your hair is darker. You risk discoloration. Also, don't use Sun-In if you've had a dye job or highlighting job in the past six months. Basically, any hair job with chemicals in it means you should avoid Sun-In.
My friend explained it to me like this: When you get something done with your hair at a salon, those chemicals become a part of your hair shaft and when they're mixed with other chemicals (like those in Sun-In) extremely harmful chemical reactions can occur, which can literally just break your hair off in large chunks (although the odds of this are actually fairly slim).
Additionally, my hair stylist told me that Sun-In treated hair means that any further dye jobs could render the colors unpredictable. It's harder for your stylist to dye or highlight your hair because he or she won't necessarily know if the colors will turn out as they are designed to.
Summary: Sun-In works best on already light hair that is not chemically treated in any way (at least in the past six months).
How to Use Sun-In
Some people suggest following the bottles instructions perfectly, and others suggest far more liberal methods.
When I used Sun-In, I had just gotten out of the shower. My hair was damp and I sprayed it liberally all throughout with Sun-In, combing it through, making sure I got every spot possible. I wanted an overall lightening effect. I then blew my hair dry and looked for results, but there were none. Sun-In generally doesn't deliver results after the first or second treatments. When I want to lighten my hair now, I will use the product for 3-5 days in a row, at which point I will see definite results. I then discontinue use until darker roots have started growing.
If you continue using it liberally over the course of a few weeks, your hair will indeed lighten. You can streak it through your hair, or soak it each time, but always use it on a wet head. Using a hair dryer or sitting in the sun will allow the chemicals to work to lighten your hair.
It's true-- Sun-In damages your hair. A lot. There are some really harsh chemicals in that cheerful little bottle, so be careful (Although bleaching your hair professionally or at home will cause more damage than Sun-In). Get ready to deep-condition and seriously love your hair. I recommend a deep hair mask of coconut oil for a few minutes. Heat it up until it's liquid, and then apply it liberally to your hair. Let it sit and soak up some steam in the shower, and then shampoo and condition as necessary. Lather up twice if needed to remove the oils. I usually apply a nice leave-in oil to my wet hair before I blow dry it, as well.
Lay off of using your straightener for a while, and if you blow your hair dry, keep it on a low setting and brush gently and slowly, because growing hair is a long, time-consuming business and damaged hair doesn't repair itself.
Have you ever used Sun-In?
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Questions & Answers
Can my hair go back to being dark after using Sun-In?
The part of your hair that has been sprayed can and might darken to a brassy orange color (it did with mine recently), but will not go back to its original color. As your hair grows in, it will be its original color, which may result in a different colored stripe in your hair.Helpful 34
If my hair is damp, and I am planning on going to a water park, can I just leave my hair damp and let it dry with Sun-In naturally?
Yes, I believe so, but keep in mind that chlorine also acts as a bleaching/lightening agent and may have an additional or unexpected effect on the process. It shouldn’t cause any damage, but it might make the color come out lighter.Helpful 21
How long does sun in stay in your hair?
It is permanent, and will grow out as your hair grows out. I will note that in the past, it has grown out and the color dulled to a brassier stripe around my head as my hair gets longer.Helpful 5
Can I use Sun-In on dark red dyed hair? The dye was from L’Oreal, and it wasn’t ammonia free.
I wouldn’t risk it. Red hair and sun in often make a brassy orange color that doesn’t look great.
I have natural highlights, will Sun-In ruin these, or just enhance them? I was also thinking about putting sun in on while I'm at softball practice, will sweat result in any strange effects?
Natural highlights will be further enhanced by the Sun-In! If you want to keep the highlighted look, you can spray the Sun-In heavily on your fingers and run that through your hair gently from the scalp down instead of spraying it all over your wet hair.
Sweat will not result in any strange effects, as long as it is dry by the time you start sweating.Helpful 18