Does your normally smooth and sleek hair transform into a massive frizz ball the minute summer hits? Does the scorching hot sun do a number on it, turning it into something resembling dried-out straw? While the change in weather brings with it many welcome additions — pool parties, barbecues, boat outings and beach vacations — it can really take a toll on your hair.
Chelle Neff, founder of Urban Betty hair salon in Austin, Texas, says it’s important to take steps to mitigate the potentially damaging effects of exposure to intense UV rays, salt water and excessive chlorine levels in pools. During the summer months, she routinely sees “dried-out ends that can break off and sunburned scalps” among her clients. She has even witnessed unsightly green-tinged, chlorine-damaged tresses. To avoid these nightmare hair scenarios this summer, follow her 10 tips for maintaining healthy hair as the temperature soars.
1. Wash your hair every four to five days.
Shampooing too frequently dries out the scalp’s natural oils, which help condition the rest of your hair. If you have extremely oily hair, Neff suggests washing your hair every two days. To keep your ‘do looking fresh, use a hair powder or dry shampoo in between washes. You can use cornstarch or baby powder in a pinch. Neff says dry shampoo gives fine hair more volume and the appearance of being thicker.
2. Install a shower filter.
Neff says replacing your shower head with a shower filter will help preserve the integrity of your hair. The filter removes chlorine and minerals that strip protein from hair.
3. Do an apple cider vinegar rinse.
Give your hair a rest from shampoo and apply this grocery store staple to the roots once a week. Hair experts say an apple cider vinegar rinse helps to balance hair and scalp pH, eliminate product buildup and treat dandruff. For easy application, buy a hair color applicator bottle from a beauty supply store. As you work it into your scalp, it will absorb into the middle and ends of your hair. If you’re worried about smelling like salad dressing, add a few drops of your favorite essential oil and dilute the mixture with a little water. You can also follow up with conditioner to eliminate the vinegar aroma.
4. Deep condition with raw coconut oil.
Neff coats her hair with coconut oil every two weeks, covers her head with a plastic shower cap and leaves the product in overnight. Using raw coconut oil as conditioner helps lock in moisture and prevent damage. If you’re a regular mermaid at the pool or beach, Neff advises using coconut oil to protect your hair from chlorine, sun and salt water. Comb the oil through your hair before going for a dip.
5. Protect your scalp from the sun.
Neff says she can often tell where a client parts her hair by the defined tan line on her scalp. Skin cancer can pop up anywhere, so be sure to shield your head from intense rays on sunny days. Wearing a hat is a simple way to cover up. Neff says you can also apply sunscreen onto your scalp where you part your hair. When applying SPF on your face, work the cream at least an inch into your hairline for the best protection.
6. Stop blow-drying your hair.
If you have hair that is slightly wavy or straight you can wash it the night before, go to bed with wet hair and wake up with it dry. In the morning, tame it with a curling iron for loose waves. Neff says this routine helps save time and spares hair from major heat damage.
7. Try using a set of steam-heated rollers.
Using steam instead of dry heat can be a gentler option for hair. Neff says the steam helps lock in moisture and gives hair a softer, shinier look. She adds that steam-heated rollers are also great for adding volume to fine hair. To avoid ending up with a bouffant, Neff wraps hair around the curler in a counterclockwise direction (away from the face). To achieve a relaxed wave, she leaves some hair sticking out of the cap and removes each roller after about 1 minute.
8. Use a wet brush or wide-tooth comb on wet hair.
Neff says large bristle brushes are better because raking a small comb through your hair roughs up the cuticle and causes breakage.
9. Get your hair trimmed regularly.
If your stylist says you need to cut a few inches, listen. Neff says it’s better to do that than to deal with breakage and split ends. She adds that no product on the market can seal split ends. They must be cut off.
10. Eat more healthy fats.
You are what you eat, and that applies to your hair. Neff says that her clients who aren’t eating a well-rounded diet often experience hair loss. She encourages them to stick to a regular vitamin regimen and to eat a hair health-promoting diet including coconut, avocado, nuts, seeds and oily fish for strong, lustrous locks.
Need hair help?
If you haven’t been showing your hair the TLC it needs this summer, don’t sweat it. Neff says a good hairstylist can help you develop a haircare regimen that will slowly nurse your hair back to health.
“Having a good hairstylist to coach you through getting your hair healthy is extremely important. Often when we try to do it ourselves we get overwhelmed and do too many things at once and then give up,” she says, adding that rehabilitating your hair takes time and patience. “It won’t happen overnight.”