When caring for your hair in the summertime, it’s important to remember the 3 S’s that damage hair: sun, sand, and saltwater. So before you plan your beach vacation, it’s worth finding out how to avoid dryness and breakage. The right beauty products and care methods will keep your mane healthy, even in unfavorable conditions. Check out our tips below, on how to protect your hair from saltwater and sun.
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Why is salt water and sun bad for your hair?
Most of us are probably aware of the harmful effects of UV rays on the skin—but did you know protecting your hair is just as important? Just like our skin, our hair also contains melanin which is a natural pigment that helps with sun protection. However, melanin levels can vary from person to person. The more melanin present, the better protected your locks will be. People with dark hair have a higher melanin level than blondes or those whose hair is bleached, gray, or colored.
When the hair is exposed to the sun, its structure is significantly weakened. This is because ultraviolet light destroys the outer layer of the hair, causing the cuticle scales to open up. This situation can actually be compared to hair coloring—ammonia present in hair dyes can have a similar effect on the hair structure. As a result, the hair is deprived of its natural protection.
UV rays can reach the inside of the hair strands, damaging the proteins that make up their structure. This effect can damage the hair, causing it to become weaker, break, or even fall out. The radiation reaching the inside of the hair shaft also damages the melanin inside. An external sign of this process occurring is lightened hair color after sun exposure.
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Many people, unaware of the changes taking place within their hair, purposefully expose their tresses to the sun to lighten them. But unfortunately, the changes in hair color only signal sun damage and can cause the hair to become dry, dull, and brittle.
Effective methods that protect your hair
Use the right hair care products
One way of protecting your hair from the harmful effects of the sun is to use the appropriate hair products. Before venturing out into the sun, shop for products with high UV filters. The products you select should also contain ingredients that moisturize and nourish the hair. By looking out for these things, you’ll not only protect your strands from radiation but also help repair existing sun damage.
When it comes to summer hair care, be sure to check out products that contain vitamins A, E, F, H, and B, ceramides, jojoba or macadamia oil, and marine collagen. If you’re planning a beach trip, apply a conditioner to your hair without rinsing, and moisturizing serum to your ends. This will give your hair an extra layer of protection against sun exposure.
While lounging on the beach, a good maintenance product is a hair mist with a UV filter. Make sure you reapply the mist every few hours and after coming out of the water. Apart from sun protection, their main advantage is how easy they are to use—all it takes is spritzing your hair and you’re done.
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If you hit the beach and realize you’ve forgotten your hair care products at home, you can substitute them with a little bit of sunscreen. The best trick is using the excess sunblock that remains on your hands after applying it to your body. Just run your hands through your hair to give it a boost of protection.
Don’t sun-dry your hair
After taking a dip in the ocean, avoid drying your hair in the sun. The droplets of water collected on the hair act as a lens, concentrating the sun’s rays inside them. As a result, the harmful effects of the sun are even stronger on wet hair. That’s why it’s recommended to sit in the shade while your hair dries. Once your hair has dried, it’s a good idea to fasten it with a hair tie or hairpin. This way, you’ll limit the area that will be directly exposed to radiation.
Another thing to remember at the beach is to not twist your hair to get rid of excess water. Why? Well, damp hair has parted cuticles, which don’t protect it properly. So ringing the water out of our hair by twisting or vigorous shaking exposes the strands to additional damage.
And if possible, give up your blow dryer during the summer season. Hair exposed to the sun already is prone to becoming weak and dry, so ditching the blow dryer will help give your mane a break.
Throw on a hat and cover-up
An even better method of protecting your hair from the sun than haircare products is simply by throwing on a hat. A hat, cap, or scarf should be a must-have item on your list of things to bring to the beach. When spending a lot of time in the sun, protecting your head and hair from solar radiation is essential. And it’s not just about protecting the hair! Wearing a hat also minimizes the risk of heatstroke, which can happen due to excessive sun exposure.
Avoid dyeing your hair before vacation
Before your planned summer vacation, don’t dye your hair! Dyeing your hair naturally dries your strands, making them even more susceptible to the damaging effects of sun and water. The pigments contained in colored hair may also fade through sun exposure. So it might turn out, that you’ll leave your beach vacation with not only hair that is dry, but also hair that lacks color. Therefore, the safer bet is holding off on your hair appointment until you return.
Protecting your hair against salt and chlorinated water
It’s not just the sun that has a destructive effect on the hair—it’s also water, which we often forget. The salt contained in seawater or chlorine present in swimming pools also contributes to weakened hair structure.
Both the salt present in seawater and chlorine found in pools dry out the hair. And on top of that, these substances can make it difficult to comb the hair and keep it intact. The best way to protect your strands from salt or chlorinated water is by not submerging your hair. Braiding your tresses or pinning them up high before going swimming is the best bet.
However, if you plan on doing some serious swimming, it’s recommended to moisten your hair with fresh water beforehand. Thanks to that, the salt or chlorine water won’t penetrate the inside of the hair as harshly. An oil with a UV filter is also a great method of additional protection, which should be rubbed into before entering the water.
But as it turns out, saltwater actually has a benefit that the beauty industry has been raving about. Hair soaked in saltwater begins to twist and curl, which is due to the rapid loss of the hair’s moisture content. And beauty companies have taken advantage of this phenomenon and created hair products based on saltwater.
Sea salt hair products are intended for women who want to attain beachy waves or curls, naturally. These types of hair products can even give the most pin-straight hair a perfectly wavy texture in under a few minutes. Sea salt naturally dehydrates the hair, so to recompensate for some of the lost moisture, be sure to use products that contain additional moisturizing ingredients to keep your hair in great condition.
Taking care of your hair after sunbathing
Salt, sand, and products used on the hair can weigh it down and cause not-so-desirable effects. Immediately after returning from the beach, make sure to wash your hair thoroughly with shampoo. While washing, use warm water to help dissolve product residue and debris.
Afterward, don’t forget to apply a regenerating conditioner to help bring your hair back to the right state. It’s best to leave the conditioner on for a few minutes, letting it fully saturate your hair, then rinse off. When rinsing your conditioner out, use cool water to close the cuticles and get a shinier and frizz-free finish.
Hair weakened by the sun requires intensive moisturizing and nourishment. So if you’re a frequent beachgoer or plan on spending your summer vacation outdoors, use a hair mask at least 1 to 2 times a week. A hydrating hair mask will provide your hair with all the necessary ingredients that dry hair needs.
To take your hair mask to the next level, apply the mask to your hair, and wrap your hair in a foil cap, then with a towel. The heat generated underneath the towel and foil will make the hair mask more effective.
Protecting your hair from the sun is just as important and protecting your skin. It’s common knowledge that UV radiation is dangerous to the entire body, and the hair is no different! Hair damage from the sun is never worth the risk—and proper protection from external factors will ensure beautiful locks that last through your vacation, and longer!