Summer is a great time to shine. Picture walking on the beach or around the pool with brightly painted toes, radiant skin (thanks to a sunless tanner) and a wide smile because the weather could not be better. Unfortunately, summer is also often the shine-killer for hair. Sun, wind, saltwater and chlorine can damage and weaken hair leaving it dry and with the consistency of straw. And since up to 85% of women in the US use some type of chemical processing on their hair such as color, a straightener or other type of treatment, excessive sun exposure and chemical processing is a double whammy of damage to hair during the summer season. Here are a few practical tips to keep your strands strong and shiny.
1. Protect your hair. Whenever possible, use a hat to block excessive ultraviolet light (UVL) exposure. Spray on SPF products for hair are not nearly as effective as keeping your tresses out of the sun with a hat. The added bonus here is that your face is protected from the sun as well, which goes a long way to reduce signs of aging.
2. Rinse well. It’s important to rinse salt and chlorine from the hair to avoid excessive drying of the hair shaft. Copper particles in pool water can deposit into the shaft of blond hair leaving it that oh-so-unflattering shade of yellow-green. Once blond hair has turned a bit green, look for copper-removing shampoo products and use a heavy conditioner to replace lost hydration.
3. Give your hair a break. Summer is a great time to lay off the blow-dryer and opt for air-drying, ponytails or braids. Since the majority of hair damage and breakage is due to excessive heat on the hair shaft, the less heat styling the hair has to endure, the better. But don’t pull that ponytail too tight since excessive traction on the hair can cause it to break and fall out.
4. Replace hydration. Sun can dry out hair in the summer, which can lead to breakage and frizz. I’m a big fan of leave-in light oils and serums to add shine and smooth the outer cuticle of the hair shaft for hydration and protection. Apply to the ends only to avoid heaviness at the roots.
5. Avoid peroxide or lemon juice. Lots of women will try to recreate natural highlights obtained from the sun by applying hydrogen peroxide or lemon juice to their hair before heading out into the sun. This is a surefire way to strip the hair shaft of natural oils and produce lackluster hair that feels like straw. The hair may get lighter, but it certainly won’t look healthy. Want highlights? Leave it to professional products which have been tested and when used properly won’t damage hair.