Everything you need to know about summer and hair care
Most of us long for the warm summer months but there’s no doubting that the change in seasons brings with it challenges for our hair.
Part of the reason we need to rethink our haircare routine is down to temperature and humidity, and another part is a direct result of seasonal activities (think chlorinated pools, saltwater and increased sun exposure).
Treat your hair well in the summer with some of these ideas:
Protect your hair from UV rays:
Studies have shown that increased exposure to UV rays can cause damage to hair in the form of dryness, reduced strength, stiffness and brittleness.1 Wear a hat to protect your hair from sun damage or pull hair into a low bun so less of your hair’s surface is exposed to the sun. Use extra conditioner if you’re out in the sun a lot. There are also new hair products hitting the markets claiming UV protection for your hair, though beware of some ingredients — read labels carefully. The best protection is always going to be shade and a head covering.
Limit the damage done by chlorine
When it comes to summer and hair care, prevention is better than cure. If you’re going to be swimming in a chlorinated pool or taking a dip in saltwater, include a bit of moisturising oil on your hair to seal the hair cuticle and decrease the absorption of water into the hair shaft. Another option is to wet your hair in the shower and then apply the oil on top of your damp hair. This way the hair shaft absorbs regular water and expands; then the oil seals in that water, helping to prevent the chlorine or saltwater from being absorbed into the hair shaft. Choose a light yet nourishing oil such as jojoba or argan. Olive and coconut oil are great for do-it-yourself hair masks, and coconut in particular has been found to reduce protein loss in damaged hair2 – but they may be a bit too heavy for this purpose. If you have very delicate or dry hair however, coconut or olive oil may be an appropriate option. Remember that you will have to wash your hair with shampoo when you’re done to make sure all of the oil comes out.
When you are done swimming in a pool, rinse out that chlorine immediately! Find a shower to thoroughly rinse your hair (and skin for that matter) even if you plan on sitting poolside for a while longer. The sooner you rinse, the better.
Show your scalp some love
Treat your scalp. Often we focus on the drier outer hair where we see split ends but hair health begins before we even see it emerge from our scalp. There is a debate in the hair care world over whether scalp massage promotes hair growth but there is no debate about the need for a healthy scalp. During the summer, the key is to make sure you don’t get a scalp sunburn. Again, wearing a hat and avoiding midday sun on that area of your body is the best solution. Some people will dab a mineral-based sunscreen (zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide) along their part line.
Unless you have a very oily scalp and hair, shampooing every day is probably unnecessary and can dry or irritate your scalp.
Caring for dry or curly hair
Depending on your hair type, you can try co-washing, rinsing or using a specific rinse agent (like apple cider vinegar or a purchased hair rinse). Co-washing should be used by women with curly hair or very dry hair. Essentially, it means using a conditioner to “shampoo” your hair. You still scrub your scalp and work it through your hair but instead of the cleansing (or irritating) surfactant-based shampoos, a light conditioner will do. If you find this leaves your hair a bit too greasy looking or feeling, try instead a specific co-washing product or a two-in-one shampoo and conditioner instead of the shampoo, and condition as normal.
On days you use a shampoo with some sort of surfactant (foaming agent), be sure to condition well and maybe follow up with a leave-in conditioner.
Straight and oil hair care tips
If you have very straight or more oily hair, try using a rinse between washes. If you typically wash your hair daily, try the rinse every other day to replace the shampoo. Again, use your fingers to gently scrub your scalp and help break up and remove some impurities. Try a protein-rich do-it-yourself hair mask. Whip up one to three eggs, depending on your hair’s thickness and length, and coat it all over your hair and scalp. If you have oily hair, use just egg whites. If the eggy smell isn’t pleasing to you, you can add a couple drops of lavender oil or lemon juice. Put a shower cap on your hair and let it soak in for 20 to 30 minutes. When you’re done, rinse it well with cold water — hot or warm water may cook the egg a bit and you could get flakes of egg in your tresses! Follow with a gentle shampoo and conditioner.
Summer and hair care – finding what works for you
With the right haircare routine, Summer needn’t spell disaster for your hair. Each person’s hair is different though and even people with the same hair qualities respond differently to different treatments and products. Experiment with what works for your hair without breaking the bank by trying travel- or trial-size products or exploring do-it-yourself natural beauty creations (such as the egg masks!). Once you’ve found what works, you can sit back and enjoy the sunshine!
- UV damage of the hair. Klaudija [ebeti}1, Ines Sjerobabski Masnec1, Vlatka ^avka1, Darko Biljan2 and Ivan Krolo3 [↩]
- https://europepmc.org/article/med/12715094 [↩]