The constant wetting and drying of hair at the beach or the pool, not to mention increased exposure to the sun, can leave your hair dry, frizzy, and unhealthy. With a little attention, though, your locks can remain strong and lustrous.
An Ounce of Prevention
The cuticle, the outer layer of the hair shaft, is made up of overlapping cells that resemble shingles or scales. When the hair is healthy, the cuticle lies flat, giving hair a shiny, smooth appearance. But when the hair is subjected to UV light, chemical processing, or a dry environment, the cells of the cuticle are pulled up, leaving parts of the hair shaft exposed and weak.
Harsh, synthetic ingredients may worsen your hair’s condition, so look for shampoos and conditioners that contain vitamins, minerals, and herbs that help nourish hair and scalp. Products that contain the amino acids cystine, cysteine, and methionine keep the layers of the cuticle flat, so the shaft of the hair remains protected from pollutants and the summer elements. Also look for products containing soy and wheat proteins, as well as avocado oil and panthenol (vitamin B5). PABA, oxybenzone, titanium dioxide, and benzophenone are natural sunscreens that can prevent hair from becoming burnt and dry.
The Antifrizz Patrol
Very dry hair appears frizzy, so it’s important to moisturize. Some shampoos contain ingredients that can strip hair of its natural oils, which leads to dryness and frizz. If your shampoo has this effect, try cleansing your hair with only conditioner to clean without drying out. Use the conditioner as you would shampoo: Scrub your hair and scalp, then rinse. Or, after a shower, comb a leave-in conditioner through hair to protect it from chlorine and other pollutants. Shampoo that contains restorative herbs, like aloe, calendula, henna, and chamomile, can help replenish hair.
Hair that needs extra attention due to blow-drying or styling procedures may respond well to a weekly hot oil treatment. You can typically find hot oil packages in the health and beauty aisle of your supermarket. Look for products that contain a light vegetable oil and apply just enough to coat your hair.
Summer calls for a different hair care regimen. In the shower, use warm (not hot) water to shampoo; one soaping is plenty.
Avoid blow-drying, since intense heat can singe the hair shaft, making it harder to achieve a sleek look. If you must blow-dry, use a low setting or a diffuser. Take a break from hot irons and electric curlers, too. Wear a broad-brimmed hat outdoors, and consider a bathing cap when you swim. Braiding your hair if it’s long enough is another way to help control frizz.
Get Rid of Green
Swimming in a pool this summer? Too much chlorine can compromise the structure of the hair, destroy its pigment and natural oils, and produce a chemical buildup on the shaft of the hair. A coating of chlorine dries the hair and, if enough residue builds up, can even make light hair look green.
To remove chlorine residue, use a clarifying shampoo. Look for citric acid and molasses or corn syrup in the ingredients list. Molasses and corn syrup bond to the chlorine molecules while the citric acid pulls the molecules from the shaft.
Also look for products that contain botanicals like sage, lemon verbena, and myrrh, as well as tea tree and rosemary to help remove chlorine or salt water buildup. Herbs including lavender, ginkgo, yarrow, and goldenseal can also help rejuvenate hair.
For A Healthy Shine
What you eat affects the health of your hair. Foods high in pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), including beans, bran, brown rice, wheat germ, brewer’s yeast, cheese, eggs, and fish, support strong tresses. Oats, apples, honey, sunflower seeds, and avocados are good sources of sulfur, an essential nutrient for healthy hair.
Drink lots of water to keep hair hydrated. Many experts recommend at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day.
Consider supplements that support a healthy head of hair, such as B complex. Vitamins A and C and the mineral zinc are necessary to regulate your hair’s natural oils.