Hair color changes and protein damage caused by ultraviolet radiation

J Photochem Photobiol B. 2004 May 27;74(2-3):109-17. doi: 10.1016/j.jphotobiol.2004.03.001.


Ultraviolet and visible radiations are known to damage hair. However, quantitative data relating damage to hair type, proteins and color to the radiation wavelength are missing. We studied the effect of UV plus visible, UVA plus visible, visible mercury-vapor lamp radiation and sunlight on (blended) virgin dark-brown, blond and red hair and (one head) virgin black and curly dark-brown hair. All hair types showed a substantial increase in protein loss in water after lamp and sun irradiation. The damaging effect of UVB was about 2-5 times higher than that of UVA plus visible radiation, depending on the hair type. Significant color changes were also observed in every hair type, after lamp and sun irradiation, being more pronounced for the light colored hairs. The luminosity difference parameter was the major contributor to the hair color changes, but significant changes in the red-green and yellow-blue parameters of every hair were observed. In this case, the damaging effect is ascribable mainly to UVA radiation. No significant changes in the mechanical properties or topography were observed in any case. We discuss these results in terms of hair type and composition and melanin types.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Color
  • Hair / metabolism
  • Hair / radiation effects
  • Hair / ultrastructure
  • Hair Color / radiation effects*
  • Humans
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Photochemistry
  • Proteins / chemistry
  • Proteins / metabolism*
  • Ultraviolet Rays / adverse effects*


  • Proteins