It’s easy to remember to protect your skin from the sun over the summer. There are ads everywhere—from magazines to Internet-enabled devices. However, one thing that we might forget about is our hair.
Have you considered the impact that the sun’s rays or swimming in a chlorine-filled pool can have on your hair? You’ll be surprised by how a person’s tresses can begin one way at the start of the summer (healthy) and, by the end of August or September, how dehydrated they can get as a result of the lack of care shown to them during the summer months.
It’s not just your skin that needs a little extra care during the summer. Your hair needs it, too, and if you haven’t been giving your hair the proper maintenance over these last few months, we want to share what happens to your hair over the summer to break it down, and ways to recover from this period.
Your Hair and The Summer Months: What to Know
Hair has a protective coating called the hydrolipidic film and, as hair becomes dryer, this film breaks down. Add color, and it breaks down even more. The summer months can be particularly harsh on this protective coating and, when exposed to other elements such as chlorine, sun, and salt water, this film can deteriorate. So the natural moisture that your hair has at the core of each shaft evaporates, and your hair loses its glimmer, shine, and health. The deterioration of the hydrolipidic film and damage to the hair will also lead to split ends and breakage.
Hair contains many proteins to enable it to maintain its moisture and shine, and, once the moisture is gone, that’s it. Your hair is damaged and will need to be repaired. A stylist might refuse to color a person’s hair, for example, because of the additional damage the chemicals used to color hair can and will do.
The lighter the color, the more damaging the chemicals, because they will need to first remove the natural color from hair to achieve a desired color. During this process, what’s left of the natural oils, will be completely stripped by the sun, salt water, or chlorine.
What will be left is a lifeless, color-filled head of hair that will need to be rehabilitated. Add the additional weight the environment can add—from air quality to something as simple as intense wind—and your hair is just exposed in a way that, when damaged, it shouldn’t be.
Tips for Post-Summer Hair Recovery
Don’t rely on mousse or gel. While these products will help you achieve the style that you want, they might not make your hair look the way that you want it to, simply because your hair isn’t in its best styling state. Your hair will also feel worse as a result.
Use a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner that rinses out. And opt for the salon-quality one; yes, the one that might cost a few more bucks, but has a high concentration of vitamins and conditioning agents you just can’t find over the counter.
Use a leave-in conditioner. A rinse-out conditioner will not protect the hair, so use a leave-in to coat the hair with an added film of moisture. Damaged hair needs all the moisture (read: love) it can get to get back to its normal state.
Use a hair mask. This is fun because you will really be pampering yourself, which is something that we all deserve. It will revitalize your tresses and, specifically, the hair shaft. A hair mask, because of the length of time the product is left on your hair, will penetrate the hair shaft to restore moisture.
First, lightly wet your hair, and then coat your hair with the hair mask. Make sure that all strands are included, (gently combing with a wet brush or large tooth comb will do this) and then wrap a towel around your head for one hour (or more). If you are considering coloring your hair soon, be sure to use a hair mask one day before the service. It will give your strands a little extra love and protect them more the day of the coloring treatment.
Stay away from chemicals. Cleaning supplies are not the only things replete with chemicals—you’ll be hard-pressed to find many hair products without them as well. And that is especially unfortunate for damaged hair.
Instead of using products with chemicals—and there are many, maybe even ones you have at home right now—look for products with fewer chemical ingredients. A few chemical ingredients are propylene glycol, sodium laurel sulfate, parabens, and ammonium laurel sulfate.
The last thing that we want to do is wash our hair with a re-packaged version of dishwashing detergent. Leave-in conditioners with silicone, however, are an exception because silicone has a reputation for coating the hair. A smattering of natural ingredients to become familiar with are soy proteins, carthame oil, safflower oil, wheat protein, rice protein, vitamin B5 (panthenol), egg lecithin, wheat germ oil, chamomile, and comfrey.
Reduce how much heat you use. Heat, generally speaking, isn’t so hot for the hair, especially if your hair is damaged. So, if you have to use heat for whatever reason, make sure that it is on a low setting. The same goes for blow dryers, which should remain on a low setting as well, to keep the hair cuticle from splitting open.
Try alternatives to using heat, like mesh rollers. Rollers come in so many varieties, and they are really a great way to protect your hair from heat during the restoration process. When rolling your hair, be sure to use end papers at the end to protect the ends of the hair.
Brush your hair. Use a natural bristle brush to evenly distribute oil from the scalp of your head to the ends. If your hair is weak and damaged, brush gently in the beginning. The benefit is that it will help to stimulate your scalp, so be gentle. But, as your hair becomes stronger, you won’t have to hold back on how much strength you use when brushing.
Don’t be afraid of a cut or trim. When hair is damaged, depending on the severity of it, the damaged ends will probably need to be trimmed. Or, if it’s extremely damaged, a cut might be needed entirely. Luckily, “looks” are beautiful, too, so you can still rock a great “look,” while going for the healthy tresses that your new look will be reestablishing.
Rinse out damaging chemicals and minerals. If you’re exposed to chlorine or salt water, be sure to rinse your hair to get the drying salt and chemicals out.
Maybe you’ve made an effort to protect your hair over the summer, and, if so, great job. But these ideas are tips that don’t just apply to this past summer. They can be used for next year and every summer after that. So, take these tips, and we’ll be glad if they can help to maintain your tresses or get them back to where you want them to be.