Monday, June 28, 2010

Retro Product Fail #1: Sun-In


Of all of the beauty products I saw advertised in the pages of Seventeen magazine as a teen and that I actually bought, I wanted Sun-In hair lightener to work the most for me. For someone who had once been naturally platinum blonde as a child, but who couldn't dye her hair with traditional permanent coloring because the copper pipes in our plumbing turned my hair green (true story - and just another reason why I can't spread the love for my high school years), Sun-In sounded like a simple and effective solution. Just spray it into damp hair, sit a few hours in the sun (while slathered with your Coppertone oil...in the 80s we still hadn't caught on to the dangers of sun exposure) and voila, instant blonde! Right?



Wrong! Sun-In was horrible - it never succeeded in turning my hair anything unless you consider reddish highlights in mousy dark blonde hair as "lightening." Not even close to the beautiful buttery shades portrayed in their advertising. I know of at least a few poor souls at school who overdid it and ended up with orange hair. Plus it smelled. Simply squeezing lemon juice on your head would probably be more effective. Remarkably, Sun-In is still being manufactured today, and still claims to lighten hair. Anyone ever have any luck with it? I would love to know...

29 comments:

LaraAnn said...

I did not know that they still make this stuff. I do remember some girls in my school using it. Sorry that it didn't work for you.

Ruby Rach said...

Oh my goodness, I tried using Sun-In when I was in high school to try and lighten my hair from dark brown to blonde (ha... yeah, as if that was ever going to work!) All I got was some dirty red-brown looking hair that I had to keep dyeing over.

It doesn't surprise me that they're still making it, but I never knew it was such an old product!

Midcenturymadam said...

Oh yes, I did try it and with the same outcome. Very disappointing results.

Ally said...

I used Sun-In and it simply made my light brown hair orange. It was like a fancy name for peroxide, it even smelled like peroxide! I too wanted blonde hair and used this as a very young pre-teen because it didn't seem as real as hair dye - don't ask me why I thought that.

Pam@GoRetro said...

Ah, talk about deceitful advertising! Not surprised to hear that I was not the only one it didn't work for.

I couldn't find info on when they started to manufacture it, but looks like it's been around since the late 60s/early 70s.

Robin@DecoratingTennisGirl said...

I had medium brown hair and it did work for me. It might have just been that my hair highlights anyway to sun exposure.

Desiree said...

Tsk tsk tsk. The lemon-yellow hair in the first photo should've tipped you off. I've never used it, but I've seen first-hand just how horrible Sun-in can be. And I'm on the same page as Ruby...I had no idea it was so old but it completely makes sense now.

Jen said...

Even I used it. Let's just said it did nothing to my red hair.

MoonDoggie said...

I remember this not working for me either :)

Anonymous said...

I'll be the one to admit it did work for me,but I didn't use it evenly,so my hair was medium brown on top and medium blonde halfway down. This is a very dreaded thing for someone entering into the 8th grade. Wasn't middle school horrible enough without skunk hair?!

LisaJ(love,love,love you site btw!)

Pam@GoRetro said...

Lisa J. - Yikes. That sounds far worse than my green hair disaster!

Thanks so much for your nice comment - I love hearing that my site gives readers some enjoyment.

Elissa Michelle said...

I did not use Sun In back in the day, but I do use it now, and it does work. I don't know how the product then compares to the product now, but now it has a pleasant floral scent, and there is a color chart on the back of the bottle that tells you what you can expect based on your natural hair color. It's pretty clear that if you have brown hair you won't become a platinum blond! I have brown hair, and it does lighten my hair quite a bit. Also, you don't have to sit in the sun to make it work--a hair dryer will do the trick as well. I've been using it for several years now, and it hasn't damaged my hair in any way.

Pam@GoRetro said...

I'm glad to hear it worked for some gals, and it sounds like they've improved the product since I was a teen!

DrJulie-Ann said...

Me! Me! Me! It turned my "dirty blonde" hair a nice "sun kissed" shade.

Now, I tell people that I'm a natural blonde...it says so on the box.

Anonymous said...

It turned my light brown-reddish hair a beautiful golden blonde that I've been trying to recapture ever since! The year was 1980. My mom was not so taken, she thought it made me look like a two bit whore. But then again she felt that way about all blondes...
Still going blonde to this day.

Sarah said...

I love this stuf! It realy workd fer mee. I hade lite brown hair and it terned it to blonde a prety naterel looking blonde

Sarah said...

I used Sun-in and it worked really well for me! Of course it still smelled, but I love the color; apparently I'm one of the few that it actually works for.

Anonymous said...

well today i used Sun-in foe the first time!! :) i was scared it would turn orange or some scary color because my mom told when she used it as a teen it turn all type of scary colors!! ;/ but my hair actually got lighter but i also used john freda go blonder with it and i see a difference right away!! i highly recommend them!! there awesome and they work!! :D


Ashlie :)))

Anonymous said...

i bought it the other day and thought it would be great. I looked at the packet and thought finally something that would work for my hair and was only $9.99 - I thought it was too good to be true. So i did some research on the internet and most people are saying it doesn't work and it is horrible but then other are saying it's great i dont know who to believe or what to believe, so for now i am not using it untill i can be absolutely sure!

Anonymous said...

I think part of the deal with Sun-In is (like one other person said) if your hair tends to lighten with exposure to sun WITHOUT any Sun-In in it. I'm a guy and I have what some people would call "Dirty Blonde" or "Dishwater Blonde" hair tha -- after being cooped up all winter is a chestnut brown almost -- however! My hair doe NOT have a lot of PIGMENT to it naturally ... You can have a darker brown color with not too much pigment (you'll know because your hairdresser will either tell you, or your hair looks kindof like 10 different colors (iridescent) in bright sun. Generally by the end of Summer I have what many people pay lots and lots of money for ... Medium Ash-Blonde hair with near-white highlights ... Looks awesome with a tan. Really quite striking, because all of the highlights are there naturally, so they're all in the right places... But I started using Sun-In as a teen to start that process off quicker and that way I'd have my "Summer Look" sooner, and I could also make it last longer. It works like a charm for me. I've learned some "Tricks" -- like start with a full, deep spraying of it all over (ONCE!) and let it dry. You don't really neednthe sun or a hair dryer, it just works. Comb it thru so it's all even (for long hair you should get maybe 3 bottles to last you the summer, I get two, because you use about half the first bottle (or a bit more) within the first few days to get the lightening really going...so, I comb it thru, let it dry then style my hair the way I normally wear it (without any product, just get it as close as you can) then (no need to rinse or wash your hair until after the THIRD application) then I spray a decent (not SOAKED, but wet in those areas I want to highlight. Again, trying to keep it natural.) amount on the highlight points -- places that are MOST exposed to the sun on am sunny day, so NOT down to the roots, etc ... And I don't comb it thru, just try to casually spray it so that more fluid gets on those areas, and less or none on places that naturally would stay darker. (Sometimes I get a single bright light source in a dark room (like take the shade off a lamp) position it likentye sun kinda but near me in a dark or dim room in front of a mirror, lightest color areas on my head are what the sun would naturally lighten, darker areas get less or no sun.) Let it dry, then mess up your hair pretty good, flipping it, messing up the style like it's the end of the day at the beach... Lightly spray (about half as wet as application #2) the entire 'outer layer' (meaning what would now be exposed to the sun if you were outside) and let it dry... Then shampoo and repeat the next day (or really later that day if you like ... Getting out in the sun helps to ensure that the color is very natural... Even in-between full applications. Anyway, that's what I do ... I do the whole routine 1-2 times per day for a few days (too often can chap your scalp) until the color is significantly lighter and well on it's way to being what I want -- then I cut down to just spraying my whole outer head kinda damp each day when I get home or if I can sit out in the sun... That's just maintenance ... If you keep spraying every day or at least a few times anweek, your roots will gradually get lightened as they grow in. Hope that helps! (20+ years of using this product, I guessnI maybe learned a few things? Lol)

Kelsey S said...

I tried it this summer and it TOTALLY worked! My hair is susceptible to sun as it is, so maybe that's why I had so much luck. I went from a dirty blonde to a VERY blonde, especially on top. It worked so well that I had to keep using it to hide my roots that started growing in very noticeably!

Pam@GoRetro said...

I think it's amazing that I'm still getting comments on this post...how are you folks finding it? Anyways, Sun-In never worked for me, no love lost there and I'm not going to try to figure it out. I use permanent hair color now that I'm quite happy with.

C Jack said...

Catchy jingle though. "Suuun In! And suh-uh-un light... and you'll be blonder toni-ite!"

Turned Helen's hair green, too. She's the girl who sat behind me in the fourth grade.

Kim Strain said...

I felt I had to share. I had naturally blonde hair as a kid, not extremely light blonde like my mothers (my kids ended up with that)but what we called dishwater blonde. The Sun in actually worked in my hair and did lighten it quite well but it fried the crap out of the lightened areas. When I ended up turning to "Nice n Easy" hair color in order to obtain a more complete blonde look, I learned, to my horror, like you did, that my hair turned a horrific shade of green. After discussing the problem with the local hair stylist, I learned that any color with the name "ASH" in it would turn light blonde hair green, especially if that light blonde hair was pre screwed up with products like SUN IN. I was told that "ASH" as in "Ash Blonde" or "Auburn Ash" or "Light Ash Brown" etc. meant "Metallic" and metals turned pre lightened hair a wonderful shade of forest green. The only way to fix it was to either cut the stuff off or use a total "lightener", mainly a product used to give "Highlights", such as like "Frost n Tip". What frost n tip did was slowly remove the natural color from your hair depending on the length of time you had it on. The longer, the lighter. The Frost n Tip removed the green from my hair and I had a total Platinum look from that point. Once you had the Platinum look you could either keep it or "color" it with one of the "Palest Blonde" or "Lightest Blonde" colors available which gave you a softer look instead of the harshness of the Platinum. I chose to keep the platinum and ran around throughout my teen years in a black leather motorcycle Jacket, Black Jeans, Black t-shirts and high heeled boots. I thought I was the hottest chick around. Anyway...those were long ago years. (the early 80s. I became a mom 1986,87,89,91,93 and again in 94 so platinum blonde hair, black leather jackets and high heeled boots were no longer appropriate...but I could dream, right?)Anyhow, thought I'd share that wonderful hair experience!

Anonymous said...

I bought it a few months ago and did get results. I have dirty blonde hair thatI usually get high lighted in a salon, but times were tough and I didn't want to go spend fifty bucks on my hair. My only complaint is that it was incredibly difficult to do you own high lights. Instead, you can end up with a very patchy result if you spray too much in one area. My stylist told me the stuff was dangerous and that I shouldn't use it again.

Therese said...

My sister used it a few times in the 60's and early 70's in the summertime - it added orange-ish highlights to her deep brown hair. I thought she was so cool! Of course, she wouldn't let her little sister use it!

Anonymous said...

Hi! I enjoyed reading this. Sun-in worked for me. I used it in high school in the late 90's. I have naturally dark blond hair. I have been hi-lighting it for years and remembered this product so I googled it and here I am!
So good to know they still make it! I going our to find some. Talk about way cheaper than the $150 I spend now!

jess said...

I've heard so many bad stories about Sun In! It actually worked for me when I was using it in the early 90's.My hair is a natural light gold colour so I used to use Sun In for highlights, and always ended up with extremely light gold to near platinum through my hair! I do remember a guy coming to school though who's hair turned orange hehe.

Anonymous said...

hi, i came across this blog written a few years ago and thought i'd leave my two cents... i'm still using sun-in on my honey blonde hair every summer and it does the trick! it definitely causes some yellowing after a few uses, but that's easily fixed by using a blue or purple shampoo every other day.

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