Summer might be a little late in getting here this year but rest assured that it’s on the way. And soon enough, all the moaning about winter’s dry skin and chapped lips will give way to groans about summer’s out-of-control frizz, greasy roots and limp locks. And while you seem to have tried every piece of summer hair advice – avoid chlorine, wear a hat at the beach, up your conditioning regimen and so on and on and on and on – tell me that you are not dreading the hair hell?
I definitely am – which is why it seemed prudent to arm-twist top stylists into spilling these little known secrets that can dramatically improve your hair’s health. If you want shiny, strong strands this season – and all year long – start reading NOW.
Sunburns and other damage
Why this happens: While skin protection may be top of mind for many, summer hair care often gets the short end of the stick despite the fact that the sun’s rays can cause some really serious damage. While hair doesn’t undergo cancerous changes from sun exposure (just a little something to be grateful for!) the same rays can penetrate the hair’s cortex (middle layer), weakening its strength and elasticity; damaging the cuticle (the protective layer), making the hair dry and brittle; and oxidizing the pigments, causing them to break down, which can turn the color reddish or brassy. And that’s not all: scalp sunburn can permanently damage the follicle, making it unable to produce hair ever again. “Every hour of exposure is like an extra session with a hot blow-dryer,” says New York City trichologist (hair and scalp expert) David Kingsley.
The easy fix: Bring out one of the new “hair sunscreens” that are popping up everywhere. Like your SPF, you’ll want to apply this product every single time you go out in the sun. Besides this, cover your head with a hat or scarf to help protect strands from the sun. And minimize heat styling to prevent further damage.
Attack of the frizzies
Why this happens: Humidity + hair? Not exactly a match made in heaven. Heat and sun parch your locks, making them feel dry and blah. So, to hydrate itself in summer, hair sucks in moisture from the humid air, which swells strands and creates frizz.
The easy fix: Saturate summer hair with a hydrating shampoo (look for ingredients like coconut oil and glycerin) plus a leave-in conditioner. The idea is to pack hair with moisturiser, so it doesn’t absorb any external humidity.
Curly locks? Combine a leave-in conditioner with a curling mousse or cream. This will nourish the hair and give consistent, controlled curls.
Finish with a silicone-rich (look for dimethicone or another word ending in -cone on the ingredients list) hair spray or serum, which temporarily “glues” the cuticles shut so they can’t peel up and frizz.
If you insist on hot-weather blow-drying, invest in an ion dryer. Negative ions break water into smaller droplets (which cuts down on drying time) and create an anti-static effect.
Why this happens: Hair has a protective layer on the outside of each strand called the hydrolipidic film, which can be broken down by coloring, heat-styling, UV rays, and chlorine. Once the film’s gone, your hair becomes chronically dry.
The easy fix: Use a heavy-duty moisturizing shampoo and conditioner every time; and deep-condition monthly to add a hydrating coat to your strands. This will work as a stand-in for the destroyed hydrolipidic film. Laying off the heat-styling tools also helps because heat destroys the protective layer.
Why this happens: Moisture in the air coats fine tresses and weighs them down. Plus, humidity ups your scalp’s oil production, which makes summer hair fall flat.
The easy fix: Hair that falls flat is typically thin. And women with fine hair will do almost anything for more bounce and volume – like roughing up their roots or overusing styling products. However, neither is good for hair. All that finger teasing chips away at the hair fiber, making it even thinner. And loads of product – especially ones made with oils and waxes, which can melt in the heat – weigh down hair further.
Instead, begin with lightweight shampoos, conditioners and styling products. Everything you put on fine hair should list water as its first ingredient.
To add body, condition only the ends of your hair after shampooing, then towel-dry and apply a volumizing mousse at the roots. Bend over and blow-dry your hair upside down.
If your strands still wither, spray roots with a product like Shu Umemura’s Invisible Texturizing Powder, which temporarily thickens hair and lifts it off the scalp.
Hands off! If you constantly run your fingers through your hair, you add oil and increase the limpness.
If your hair is like mine, by lunchtime it’ll start looking pretty flat. Revitalize it by doing the upside-down thing again, but instead of using the blow-dryer, spritz some light hairspray on the roots.
Why this happens: Just as your face gets sweatier in the heat, so does the top of your head. But while the sweat on your skin usually has a chance to evaporate, scalp sweat often gets stuck in your strands. The stickiness is like a fly trap, attracting dirt and pollution, which makes it even oilier and more grimy.
The easy fix: Once a week, opt for a clarifying shampoo for your normal one. They’re made with extra cleansing agents to remove the stuck-on sweat, oil and dirt.
And remember to exfoliate your scalp… either with an an-home solution or the L’oreal Serie Expert Soft Peel Lipidine Cleansing Exfoliating Scalp Treatment.
On regular wash days (that should be 2-3 times a week, tops), use a gentle cleansing shampoo or one labeled “for all hair types”. They have more moisturizers than a clarifying wash, so they balance out the scalp while still ridding it of dirt and oil.
Save your shade
Why this happens: Nothing wreaks havoc on a dye job faster than UV rays. They penetrate the hair shaft and break down hair color molecules. The outcome? An uneven, and often unflattering, shade.
The easy fix: The best way to slow color fading is to wear a hat. But since that’s not realistic all the time, being careful about which styling products you use is just as important. Hair gels, crèmes, and even leave-in conditioners protect hair, while oil-based products, like pomade, attract the sun and accelerate fading.
(Don’t) go green
Why this happens: Chlorine sinks into the hair shaft, where it mixes with color molecules and initiates a chemical reaction that gradually tints your tresses.
The easy fix: If you swim on a regular basis, coat your hair first with conditioner, wear a swim cap, and rinse immediately afterward.
Or you can try a chlorine-shielding product like Philip Kingsley Swimcap, which uses conditioning ingredients to create a barrier around your strands, blocking out harmful chemicals.
If your hair already has a greenish hue, try Ouidad Water Works Shampoo, which uses fruit acids to neutralize chlorine. Or rinse with seltzer water, which gently strips away chemicals.