Sun, sand, and sea are three words that describe summer. But, of course, too much of a good thing can leave you burned—sunburned, that is. Not only do the sun’s rays damage your skin, but they can damage your hair too. Things like UV rays, chlorine, and saltwater can seriously damage your hair’s health and color, but some products can help keep your strands healthy and looking fresh.
To find out how to protect your hair in the summer, we tapped several hair experts to explain what can happen to hair and how to prevent and fix any mishaps. Take note.
How to protect your hair from chlorine:
Repeat after me: Chlorine is not your friend. It only takes a quick dip in the pool for a chemical reaction to occur, and although this chemical is a safe disinfectant, many people often leave the pool with swimmer’s ear, itchy skin, and red, irritated eyes. Although these symptoms fade after a few hours out of the pool, the damage done to your hair can have long-lasting effects.
According to recent studies, chlorine-rich water opens up the hair cuticles and causes a chemical reaction that affects color oxidation and hair discoloration. Bumble and bumble hair colorist Stephanie Diaz explains that when the cuticle is opened, the surface-layer color (such as dyes or glosses) can easily fall out of the hair and create a dull, faded, and brassy look.
Blondes are especially vulnerable to this, as a “green” buildup can occur from prolonged chlorine exposure. Combining that with sun exposure can give blondes that brassy yellow and sometimes greenish tone. Brunettes and redheads tend to land on the orange side, and while women with dark brown or black hair don’t necessarily experience color-fade, women with natural hair typically experience an extra dry scalp and breakage.
How to protect blonde hair from chlorine:
Between salon visits, this shampoo will gently cleanse your hair with specially formulated violet pigments used to neutralize unwanted yellow and brassy tones. This shampoo works on natural and color-treated blondes, and it will strengthen hair, improve shine, keep blonde shades looking glossy.
Shop it! $6.99, Amazon.com
How to protect brunette hair from chlorine:
Blue shampoos are to brunettes what purple shampoos are to blondes, and they make such a big difference. This shampoo cleanses hair with deep blue pigments to neutralize any unwanted orange, red, and brassy tones. While the blue pigments help tone, the silk proteins and hibiscus flower extract help to restore and add hydration. Just like its counterpart, this shampoo is best when used as needed or, at the very minimum, once every two weeks.
Shop it! $26, Sephora
How to protect your hair from saltwater:
Similar to chlorine water, saltwater will also swell up your hair cuticle, absorb salt into your hair, and make it dry and knotty. For women with fine hair, those heavy salt molecules can stick to the hair, creating a gorgeous wavy texture, but for the rest of us, it makes our hair a matted, tangled mess.
Jon Reyman, hairstylist and owner of Spoke and Weal salons, explains that when hair becomes thick and matted, your strands become vulnerable to damage. To prevent that, first wet your hair with purified water (shower or drinking water will do), and then apply a leave-in conditioner to your hair using a Wet Brush. Hairs act like sponges and absorb everything they come in contact with, but this is especially true when they’re wet. Wetting hair with clean water will prevent saltwater from penetrating the shaft, and if there’s a nourishing leave-in in it as well, then there’s double protection.
Shop it! $8.45, Amazon.com
How to protect your hair from the sun:
By now, you’ve probably re-ordered your favorite sunscreen, but have you considered the damage the sun could be doing to your hair as well? According to scientific studies, excessive sun exposure is really damaging to your hair’s structural integrity. UVA rays can cause hair color to oxidize while UVB rays degrade the protein structure of hair, resulting in reduced elasticity, breakage, and split ends.
To prevent this, Miko Branch, the “Curl Whisperer” and founder of Miss Jessie’s, suggests these three steps:
Wear a wide-brimmed hat or headscarf, or style your hair in a protective hairstyle that can act as a physical barrier against the sun.
Reduce your use of hot styling tools. If you must style your hair, invest in a high-quality, low-heat tool, like the Dyson straightener, that will keep your hair healthy and still allow you to style it.
Use nourishing hair oils and haircare products with antioxidants. These will protect your hair from external damage, seal in moisture, and nourish it.
Shop it! $499.99, Ulta Beauty
It’s also important to cater to your specific hair type to get the best results, so see below for more haircare tips.
How to protect fine hair from the sun:
For ladies looking for a non-greasy, translucent alternative to oily UV-protecting sprays, this 100% mineral powder is the answer to your prayers. Part dry shampoo, part UV protectant, it’s perfect for those who want to spray a quick poof and go; it’s essentially an umbrella for your hair. It’s also vegan, cruelty-free, gluten-free, reef-safe, and uses silica and vitamin C to absorb excess oils and provide antioxidant protection.
Shop it! $34, Sephora
How to protect medium hair from the sun:
Diaz recommends using a UV protectant with nourishing hair oils for this type of hair. The product in mind? Bumble & bumble’s Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil. This lotion uses six lightweight oils (like sweet almond, safflower, and grapeseed oil) that lock in moisture and smooth strands for shiny and healthy hair. For best results, use a dime-sized amount on damp hair before styling. Although this product may say it’s invisible, the results are, without a doubt, visible AF.
Bumble & bumle
Shop it! $28, Sephora
How to protect thick, natural hair from the sun:
According to Branch, Miss Jessie’s Grow Strong Mafura Oil is essential to a “curlfriend’s” summer haircare routine. This deeply hydrating treatment is infused with tons of fatty, healthy hair oils like avocado, argan, jojoba, castor, and coconut. Just add 10 to 15 drops of the oil to a water-filled spray bottle, shake, and spritz all over your hair before heading out. You can also rub a dime-sized amount on the ends for a hit of hydration, or apply it from root to tip for a conditioning leave-in treatment.
Shop it! $8, Amazon.com