Visions of sun kissed hair may dance in your head when Summer rolls into town. While the toasty beams of the glorious Sun may cause a delicious warm glow, it’s what you can’t see that may curse you later. Unprotected hair can fry in UVA and UVB rays resulting in a head full of straw-like strands that may take months to repair.
Unless you plan on sporting a super short do at summer’s end, resist the urge to do the mermaid thing with your locks flowing freely. Search and destroy pool chemicals or ocean salt can instantly annihilate all those natural oils you've spent all year building into your soft, undamaged mane.
The good news is that with a little planning and preventive measures you can avoid the common sun and surf damage of faded hair color, fragile, brittle or dry hair and yucky split ends.
1. Avoid Maximum Ray Exposure
Start by avoiding trouble. Minimize your hair’s exposure to the sun between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. when the rays are the most potent. If you must be out during those times wear a cover-up to shield your strands from sun exposure.
2. Use Hair Care Products With SPF Agents
Don’t assume that all hair care products contain SPF agents. Although many brands have some level of sun protection, not all products contain agents like Octyl Methyoxycinnamate. The potency may vary greatly. Since SPF formulas can make products heavy or oily, products may only contain a maximum SPF level of 10. If you live near or will be visiting an area near the equator or in high altitudes, where the sunlight is stronger, a higher SPF is the only way to go for maximum hair protection.
Know what you’re buying for your hair’s ultimate protection. Shop for products like Phytotherathrie’s Phytoplage line that is specifically designed to provide maximum sun care. (The Phytoplage line includes 5 different products specifically designed for hair during Summer months).
Color treated or damaged hair will benefit from gentle extending shampoos (Mine, ARTec, Redken) that contain one or more of the antioxidant vitamins (A, C, E) that protect against color striping heat and sun. Extenders will also guard against hard water, chemical and chlorine damage.
3. Utilize The Best Summer Hair Care Products
Most gels, mousses and hair sprays only float on top of the hair shaft. This makes them less durable and less protective from sun, salt and dry hot air.
Rinse out, leave-in, and deep conditioners are designed to soak deeply into the hair cuticle offering hidden sun blocking protection. Coated cuticles are more resistant to summer toxins.
Use leave-in conditioners on days you know you’ll be soaking in the sun or surf.
Remember that normally dry, long, color-treated and/or curly hair needs extra conditioning during the hot summer days. Treat your hair to weekly or as needed deep conditioning treatments (ARTec Moisture Pak, KuscoMurphy Deep Conditioner).
4. Start Summer With Preventive Maintenance
Start the summer season with a salon trip to eliminate split ends and handle hair repairs. If your hair normally dries out during summer months, consider having a preventive professional deep conditioning treatment to ward off potential frizzies.
5. Postpone Color/Highlighting Until Fall
Ditch the itch to go blonder or lighter. Summer months are the worst time of the year to add chemically drying color to hair that is already parched. If you must lighten your locks, use a temporary color that does not contain peroxide or damaging ammonia. Consider wild hued clip on ponytails and braids as a whole alternative.
6. Summer Shampoo Strategies
Combat potential hair damage with gentle, moisturizing shampoos that will protect your hair by building a protective moisture barrier against the sun. When possible, use moisturizing sudsing products with built-in UVA and UVB protectors to help filter the sun’s rays.
7. Cap It Off
Take a hint from the hottest pool athletes who proudly glide through pool lanes in their tight dome protectors. Or check out the sand jockeys who swat at beach volleyballs while wearing an assortment of baseball caps. Allowing hair to be exposed to more than just tiny amounts of sun or pool chemicals is like sticking your precious locks in the microwave.
If you absolutely can’t wear a bathing or other cap, rinse hair before and after swimming. Water repels pool chemicals and ocean salt like water on a ducks back. Treat you hair with products designed to counter the impact of sun and surf.
8. Deal With Emergency Sun Exposure
Apply hair protection products (Phytoplage’s High-Protection Sun Oil) on either dry or wet hair before soaking in the sun.
When you are unexpectedly thrust into the sun without your favorite hair protection, comb a dollop of regular sunscreen with a minimum of 15 SPF through your hair. Apply to exposed scalp to prevent damage and/or sunburn.
The sun breaks down the protective ingredients in sunscreens, so don’t forget to reapply them every hour when swimming, sweating or playing sports.
9. Slick Your Hair Back
Slick your hair back into a bun or ponytail, slather on some deep conditioner and enjoy a short spurt of sun time. Remember that too much of anything is a bad thing. After an hour of baking your conditioned hair, slap on a cool hat to eliminate hair sizzle.
10. Deal With Damage
Don’t despair if you find yourself with damaged hair from salt, sun or chemicals. Select a product that can help with hair damage recovery by restoring, hydrating and lubricating hair exposed to damaging summer conditions. Consider using a detox or after-sun shampoo (Aveda Detox, PhytoPlage) that is designed to remove salt, pool chemicals and damaging environmental toxins.
Take wonderful care of you hair and you will emerge in the Fall with healthy tresses. When you are tempted to ditch your protective hair care plan remember that Summer always ends but sun damaged hair can last a very long time.