Hair. Some of us love it, some of us hate it – all of us have to deal with it. It’s considered the most high-maintenance bit of any girl’s beauty regimen, and what’s best for one may not be best for another. Now that summer is upon us, we’ve put together our top tips for keeping your tresses clean and healthy no matter what adventures you get up to.
Give It a Trim
A quick trim with a sharp pair of scissors throughout the summer removes any split ends that may worsen with the conditions that summer brings. Removing an inch or two is all that is necessary to improve the overall health of hair.
A trim will also help to keep your ends from splitting and looking frayed, which gives you the appearance of healthier and longer hair. When ends split and are severely damaged, they can cause breakage, and that breakage travels up the hair shaft, which leads to playing catch-up. We all know it can be easy to skip haircuts when you’re doing everything in your power to grow your hair out, but this is when you should be on top of it.
“Many people make the classic mistake of forgoing trims because they are growing their hair longer,” says Cunnane Phillips. “This is in fact the time to be most attentive to the care of the hair, and that should include a trim every six (perfect world) to eight weeks.”
Don’t forget to do another trim at the end of the summer to remove any split ends prior to the cold, dry winter weather.
Hair Needs Sunblock, Too
Just like the skin, hair needs protection from the sun, too. However, we recommend that you take a moment before heading to the nearest drug store to find the appropriate potion. If there’s anything worse than using products with unnecessary chemicals, it’s using them while being exposed to the summer sun. The summer heat tends to leave the pores of the skin and scalp open, allowing for further absorption of ingredients in hair products – so make sure your hair and body are absorbing only the good stuff!
There are UV hair products such as leave-in conditioner and heat-protection sprays that can help to protect your hair from the sun’s damaging rays, but always be cautious. It is important to read the product labels carefully to find products with adequate SPF and the least amount of toxic chemicals. If you cannot find these products, a scarf or a hat is helpful to protect both the hair and the scalp from UV ray damage.
For a natural alternative to chemical laden products, we recommend sunflower oil. It acts as an emollient, providing much needed moisture alongside UV protection.
Wash After Being Outdoors
The outdoors may be great, but it can also be harsh on hair. After working out, spending hours in the sun, or swimming, we recommend giving your hair a wash in order to remove pool chemicals, lake and ocean debris, oils, sweat, and dirt. This helps to prevent buildup, and it removes chemicals that may damage and dry out the hair, such as chlorine. It is best to use a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner to help tame frizz and give the locks a little extra hydration.
Be careful to avoid washing your hair too much during the summer; it strips your hair of the essential oils that moisturize it naturally. When you do wash your hair, use brands that are gentle and nourishing, and which have a high SPF.
Pre-Treat for the Pool
Your hair is basically a giant sponge, and, like all sponges, you’d rather not have one filled with dirt and other nasties. The goal is to absorb as little ocean, lake, and pool water as possible.
Start with wet hair before you enter any body of water that isn’t your bathtub. Hit the pool shower room (you’re supposed to rinse off first, anyway) and give your hair a good soaking with tap water—even water from a hose is fine. Then, start slathering on the conditioner. If you can find one with SPF, that’s even better. Why pre-treat? The conditioner acts as a secondary barrier to the pool water, protecting your locks, without leaving a gross residue in the water.
Afterwards, treat your hair post-swim. You may be in a hurry to get to your next destination, but we promise this is worth the time. Stop back by that pool shower and take the time to shampoo and condition your hair. For healthy hair, that should do the trick to stay green-free.
Put Away the Hot Irons
When it’s summertime, natural is the name of the game. We think it’s a good idea to take advantage of natural hair during the summer months and put the styling tools away. You’ve probably already heard about the damage these tools can do. Heat styling strips natural oils from hair, which leads to hair drying out and being prone to breakage. It is best to allow the hair to air dry, using a little texture cream or spray to achieve a natural, beach look.
If you must style your hair, try to keep it to a minimum and use the lowest heat setting on your styling tools. You should always make sure to use a heat-protecting treatment prior to using heating tools, in order to protect the hair.
Pool chemicals, salt from the ocean, regular styling, and sun damage wreak havoc on the hair. A deep conditioning treatment, while sometimes costly, can help to restore your hair’s lost moisture and improve its health. There are multiple options for deep conditioning, including pre-made conditioners and natural homemade ones. Just like you moisturize your face, you need to moisturize your scalp, too.
Don’t forget that conditioning your hair also makes it smell fabulous, which people will appreciate. If you have short hair, just make sure you wash it all out so your scalp doesn’t get greasy.
Comb, Don’t Brush
If you want to be gentle to your hair, consider dumping the hairbrush and taking up the comb. This is especially important when dealing with wet hair, which is much more fragile. Wide-tooth combs tend to be way less harsh when it comes to untangling your locks.
Combing your hair is the best way to manage your hair if it’s wet, tangled, or needs styling. If your hair is particularly tangled, remember to comb from underneath the tangle, don’t comb from above. You can also use a comb when you are pulling, parting, and styling your hair. Combing is the best precursor to brushing, as it gets your hair ready and can be used to divide strands easily into sections after it has been combed.
Accessorize – Wear Hats and Scarves
Another great summer hair care tip is to opt for a hat, hair scarf, or both. Not only do hats and head scarves provide extra (almost total) UV protection, they also help the hair to retain moisture – a big-time summer hair care issue.
Remember, just like your skin, your hair can burn. According to hair care expert J. Kingsley, “Summer’s strong UV rays act on your hair in a similar way to bleach; they oxidize and degrade the disulphide bonds that hold it together, reducing cystine content and causing brittleness, dryness, breakage and lack of manageability.”
The expert continues, “Chlorine can be similarly drying, and, as pool water often contains traces of copper, it may even turn blond hair green. Salt water is also bad news; being osmotic, it leaches water out of each strand, rapidly reducing moisture content and elasticity.”
You might not always be able to feel the burn, but the sun’s rays will take a toll on your hair in the long term.
The summer heat and humidity call for gentle up-dos and stylish braids. We know everyone is loving the top-knot and sock buns, but be aware that putting hair up high and tight can cause a great deal of damage during the summer months, when hair tends to get frizzy and dry.
Messy braids and gentle up-dos are low maintenance and will keep the hair from further UV exposure and add another layer of protection for the scalp. Don’t worry about your hairstyles being the image of perfection – the laid-back nature of theses summer styles will embrace the natural elements of summer and look fabulous!
Salt water Is Good Water
A little salt water won't hurt hair. In fact, a dip in a salt water pool or the ocean can be beneficial. A simple towel-dry and scrunch can add gorgeous beachy waves to hair. However, a lot of time spent in salt water is another story. It can make hair hard and dry, and damage its color. Applying a serum that is made specifically to protect hair from salt water is key. A pre-shampoo conditioning treatment and leave-in conditioner before a dip can help, too. If your hair has already been damaged by salt water, a leave-in conditioning treatment may soften the hair follicle.
If your hair is colored or dry, sea water can dry it out even more. The solution is to coat it in oil (we recommend coconut oil), which shields the hair while allowing the scalp to benefit from the minerals in the water. If you have very oily hair, on the other hand, you'll probably find that the seawater helps in keeping the oiliness at bay! Be sure to wash your hair after your salt water dip – you don't want the salt to remain on your hair and scalp once your natural “therapy” is over.
Sea water has gotten a bad hair rap over the years, but there’s really no justification for it. It’s rich in vitamins and minerals, with an antibiotic effect on the skin. Salt has been used extensively in ancient medicine, particularly by Hippocrates, who employed it in all sorts of ways – including hair care. Experts also suggest that seawater can be used to treat eczema and psoriasis, both of which can impact the scalp and cause hair loss. It's also known to promote circulation – a real boon for healthy hair growth.