Think of it: Long, lazy days filled with bright sunlight and cool, blue water — hiking, sunbathing and playing on the beach to your heart's content. Summer is on the horizon, and you're ready to dive in and soak up what the season has to offer.
1. Swim With Care
Oceans and swimming pools are popular summer destinations, but sea salt and chlorine damage every hair type. Water with high salt content pulls moisture from the hair, and chlorine chemically strips it, said stylist Karen Wallington. They take away natural oils and are especially hard on blonde hair and dry hair, added cosmetic chemist Vanessa Thomas.
Choose a hair care tip below to help keep your locks safe.
- Limit swimming pool and ocean swims to two or three times a week.
- Dampen hair before swimming. This coats strands so they’re less likely to absorb chlorinated water.
- After a swim, wash hair with a clarifying shampoo, followed by a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner. Note: For colored or dry hair, skip the clarifying shampoo.
- If you don't have time for a wash, stop dehydration by rinsing the saltwater or chlorine out of your hair ASAP.
- For the best protection, wear a swim cap.
2. Minimize Sun Exposure
UV damage isn't just a skin thing; your hair can be dried out and damaged by too much sun as well, said Dr. Jill Barat. According to research, excessive exposure to sun is the most common cause of damage to the hair shaft (the visible part of your hair).
So what does sun damage look like? Dryness, reduced strength, rough surface texture, loss of color, decreased luster, stiffness and brittleness are all possibilities. UVA radiation affects hair color, and UVB rays have a negative effect on keratin — the key protein in hair.
To protect your locks from harmful UV rays:
- Minimize time in direct sunlight.
- Wear a hat — wide-brim is best.
- If hats aren't your style, try a hair scarf.
Dr. Barat also recommended giving strands a spritz with a UV protectant before going outside because it's like sunscreen for your hair.
3. Keep Strands Moisturized
Just like your skin, your hair needs to be hydrated and protected, said Wallington.
Try these hair care tips to keep in moisture.
- Stick with moisturizing shampoos and conditioners, especially after swimming.
- Take cold (or cooler) showers to avoid dryness caused by hot water.
- If your hair feels dry, you may want to wash less.
- Try a leave-in conditioner.
- Minimize the use of products with sulfates, an ingredient Thomas warns can exacerbate dryness.
- Apply an oil such as marula oil or coconut oil to moisturize hair follicles and seal your ends.
- If you have dry hair, apply a water-based moisturizer before using oil. The water absorbs, and oil sits on the surface to lock in moisture and protect hair, says Wallington.
- Look into conditioning treatments. Trichologist Ebony Riley suggested having a professional give you a steam treatment or hot oil treatment to replenish moisture and balance your hair’s PH.
4. Fend Off Frizz
Depending on where you live, summer weather means different things. While some areas experience hot, dry summers, others see an increase in humidity. Extra moisture in the air can make flyaways sprout up, worsening frizz.
To reduce this effect, sleep on a pillowcase that reduces friction on your strands. Thomas also suggested using silicones as they coat the hair to lock out extra moisture, like humidity, while still keeping it hydrated. But do not use them with thin hair, as it can be easily weighed down.
5. Style With Care
It’s no secret that styling can wreak havoc on your hair. And during the summer months, the combo of hot weather and hot tools can be extra damaging. Try to avoid heat styling in your summer hair care routine. It dries out your locks and makes them prone to breakage. Go natural as much as possible. But if you can’t part with your blow dryer, curling iron or flat irons, be sure to apply heat protection products before styling.
Remember that hair is fragile when wet. So use a wide-tooth comb and detangler to minimize breakage. And practice extreme caution when removing hair ties or bobby pins, says Riley. Try hair ties with a friction-free hold to minimize tangles. And if you’re going to be in direct sunlight without a hat, style hair with no part to protect the scalp. Just don’t pull too tight and risk breakage.
Also: How to Grow Your Hair Faster
6. Combat Oily Hair With Dry Shampoo
Sometimes summer hair is brittle and dry, but other times it looks greasy. Many suspect this results from sweat, and it does — kind of.
Our pores release sweat. When air comes into contact with it, sweat evaporates and keeps you cool. But sweat isn’t the only thing at work. We also have sebaceous glands in our skin that release a thick, oily substance called sebum. Although oil production doesn't sound like something we want, sebum actually helps us stay cool by mixing with sweat and slowing down its evaporation.
However, when sweat mixes with the sebum on our scalp, it can move the oily substance through our hair, which makes strands look greasy. To counteract this, apply your favorite dry shampoo. It absorbs excess oils, making hair look and feel clean.
7. Make Hair Shine With Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has been praised for its many health benefits. And it turns out it’s great for hair, too. ACV removes product buildup that makes strands look dull. Plus, it closes the hair cuticle, locking in moisture and allowing light to reflect beautifully.
To get this radiant shine, mix one part apple cider vinegar to five parts water in a spray bottle. After shampooing, mist the mixture generously over hair and massage your scalp with your fingers or a scalp massager. Let the mixture soak in for a few minutes, and then rinse with cool water before conditioning.
8. Get Regular Trims
Sun, wind and heat cause split ends. Hair care professionals suggest getting a trim every six to eight weeks to ward them off. This helps hair grow and keeps it looking healthy. Plus, it allows hair care products to better penetrate your strands and do their job.
If you’re worried about losing too much length, tell your stylist you only want the damaged ends removed and verify how much this includes before snipping begins. You can even bring a photo or use your hand to clearly show the amount to be trimmed.
9. Mind Your Color
Summer can be filled with striking sunsets and beautiful blooms, but if you dye your hair, you know summer isn’t always great for color. UV rays break down the chemical bonds in hair dyes and make color fade faster. To help prevent color fading, professionals recommend using a thermal protector and avoiding direct sunlight when possible. Wearing a hat can also help. Alternately, you could limit bleaching and coloring during the summer — if that’s an option.
Even if you don’t dye your hair, you may still notice color changes due to sun exposure and chlorine. Studies show that chlorine combined with UV radiation damages both hair color and hair proteins.
Sunlight alone can cause blonde hair to turn brassy. To control the red and yellow tints, Thomas recommends using a purple shampoo and conditioner.
Chlorine also causes significant color changes to virgin hair, making dark-brown hair both redder and more yellow and blond hair more yellow. By using hair care products with UV filters, you can help prevent fading.
Summer Hair Care That's Just Your Style
No matter how you spend your summer, there are plenty of ways to beat the heat and prevent hair damage. If you don't have time for conditioning masks or a new hair care routine, it's OK. Any hair care tip you practice means you're taking care of yourself. And, as Riley points out, healthy hair is a barometer of good health. And just like we use sunscreen for our skin, we need sun protection for our tresses, too. By taking steps to protect your hair from the elements with these summer hair tips, your hair will likely weather the season well.
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