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Sun-In Damages: Sun-In Review

Updated on February 19, 2017
Sun-in highlights on hair. Photo Source: Shanna11
Sun-in highlights on hair. Photo Source: Shanna11

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.

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.

Sun-In Damages

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?

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    • emilybee profile image

      emilybee 4 years ago

      I've never tried sun-in. My hair naturally lightens up in the summertime and often I spritz a bit of lemon juice in before hanging outside. By end of summer my hair is usually much more blond. Thanks for the info on Sun-In for I previously did not know much about this product.

    • Cristale profile image

      Cristale 4 years ago from Florida

      I have too much dark hair color on my long locks for it to work. It looks great in your hair!

    • mvillecat profile image

      Catherine Dean 4 years ago from Milledgeville, Georgia

      I cannot believe they still make Sun-In. At least they have changed the bottle in the last 25 years. I hope it smells better these days. This took me back...a long way back.

    • profile image

      Jessie 3 years ago

      Sun in is amazing. I wanted a lighter shade then I had. I have lightish brown hair. First of all I wanted to say something....'sun in has no damage to your hair! When I used sun in it was so simple, just spray and wait in the sun! It works wonderfully you won't regret!!

    • paxwill profile image

      P Williams 3 years ago from France

      Sun-in works on natural red hair too if you're trying to get a more golden-orange color. Some friends of mine in high school did a science fair project comparing Sun-in to lemon juice, and the results were about the same if you use the proper technique (i.e., going out in the sun, rather than using heat from a blow dryer, since it's the UV rays that activate the lightening chemicals rather than heat.) Save your money and spray diluted lemon juice on your hair after you shower.

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      paula 3 years ago

      I've used Sun-in since I was 18 I'm now 36 and still use it I have light. blonde hair but as I have got older I need it more but I will have to try proper dyes in the next couple of years as it won't work with gray hair give it 8/10

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      bex 2 years ago

      I was born a blond but over time my hair started to darken. I began spraying sun in in my hair before marching band practices (9 hours in the sun) this was when the brown started to appear so I never had a full head of brown I basically lightened the growing in roots. For years I never noticed anything bad but eventually when my hair got a lot longer I started to notice some damage. But I also don't trim my hair so that was a part of the problem. Those don't mix well. I eventually decided to grow out my hair without the lightener because I was curious what my natural was. Once that started happening I noticed the new hair was thicker, healthier, and shinier. I currently look like I ombreyed my hair because of the growing out process. I at this point in my life have decided to go natural. Now healthier hair is more important than blond. But the damage isn't terrible if you want lighter hair and honestly I think it is the best method if you don't overdo it. But no matter what lightening your hair causes damage. The thing people don't realize and I made this mistake before is the lightening isn't instant. You may blow dry your hair and see now difference. It will be lighter by the next day to not add more instantly. It is a patient process to do it right. Do it over a period of at least a week.

    • profile image

      Mel 14 months ago

      I have used it since I was 16 on light brown hair to give me a golden blonde look. Still use it 20 years later and never needed hairdressers for lightening.

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      Alissa 10 months ago

      I have used Sun-In before. For reference, I am Asian with JET BLACK hair. It worked just fine on me. I sprayed it liberally on my wet hair and combed it out for even distribution. I then waited outside in my backyard and allowed my hair to dry. I repeated this step every few days for 2 weeks. My hair turned into a beautiful auburn brown shade with blonde streaks all throughout my hair. I can personally vouch that this product worked on my pin straight Asian jet black hair. And with absolutely no damage either. My hair is as healthy as it comes. But to each their own, everyone has different experiences and what worked on me may have reverse effects on someone else.

    • profile image

      10 months ago

      I used Sun In for a few weeks in the summer and it looked beautiful with my black hair. All was well until a year later when I got my hair done at the salon. Believe this review and its warning about bad chemical reactions. My hair literally began to fall out. Luckily I have long hair so we were able to cut the damaged part off. Both my hair stylist and I were so confused why this was happening until I remembered that I had used Sun In over a year before only a had few of times. So just keep in mind that while it does work, don't use it if you ever plan to get your hair done in the future.

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      Alejandra 10 months ago

      You do get a very bad chemical reaction if you plan to make a trip to the salon! Im a hair dresser and i just happen to do a set of hilites without imagining that my client had used sun-in , her hair felt off !!i had never seen anything like this before

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