Summer is a great season for outdoor fun, but experts agree that exposure to the elements is not-so-great for the health and beauty of the hair. Swimming pool pipes leak copper ions into the water, which gives light hair an eerie greenish cast. Chlorine buildup makes hair dry and brittle. Swimming in the ocean isn’t much better for the hair, since salt residue results in tangles and breakage.
Harsh sunlight fades hair color and further dries out the locks, destroying the keratin proteins that help keep hair strong. Bleached or otherwise damaged hair is especially vulnerable to summertime problems. Expert tips and products are available to help prevent hair damage and improve the appearance of an already-damaged mane.
Getting Rid of Swimmer’s Hair Problems
Before jumping into the water, apply a silicone serum to the hair; these hair serums are widely available in all price ranges, and will keep many damaging substances off the hair shaft. Olive oil works as well, but is greasier and more difficult to rinse out.
Right after swimming, rinse hair thoroughly with tap or spring water to remove any buildup that may have managed to cling to it. Try to avoid washing the hair with well water if at all possible; well water will leave calcium and magnesium deposits on the hair, creating further problems.
Swimmer’s shampoos and clarifying treatments are used to remove harmful substances from the hair. Mastey makes products designed specifically to get rid of chlorine and mineral residues. Rinsing the hair with apple cider vinegar or eight aspirins dissolved in one glass of water is also frequently recommended, but may further dry out already dehydrated locks.
If hair becomes particularly dry, try a commercial product with a more moisturizing formulation; Frederick Fekkai’s Apple Cider Clarifying Shampoo and Clearing Rinse supposedly remove chlorine without stripping oil from the hair. Specialty lines such as Swimmer’s Solution and Ultraswim also earn high marks from internet reviewers.
One new but inexpensive haircare line for swimmers comes from beauty supply store staple Ion, which produces special shampoo, leave-in conditioner, and clarifying treatments for pool or ocean-damaged hair.
Summer health and hygiene care for kids is not just about sunblocks and sunscreens. Hair conditions, body washes, moisturizers, and antibacterial creams should be used.
Protecting Hair from Sun Damage
Sun can degenerate hair proteins; unlike sunburned skin, hair is dead, and cannot regenerate on its own. Hair products with sunscreen in them are available to protect hair from sun damage, but no one seems to be sure if these work very well or not. Parsol SLX is said to be the most effective; but since hair products do not yet receive Sun Protection Factor ratings, it is difficult to know whether or not this is true.
Lines that claim to market some products with at least a chance of providing sunscreen protection for the hair include Biolage, Redken, Frederick Fekkai, Ion, and Keratase. In addition, the use of any leave-in conditioning or styling product provides some degree of protection from sun damage.
Also remember that the skin on the scalp needs protection from the sun; spray the scalp with a non-oily, clear sunscreen at the beach or when exposing it to direct sunlight for a period of time. Wearing a hat or a scarf is another great method of sun protection, but unfortunately is not always practical.
Deep Conditioning Products for Dry Hair
Deep conditioning hair products can’t really reverse damage; but they definitely make hair appear a lot shinier and healthier until new, undamaged hair can grow out. They are often called “masks” or “packs,” and should be left on for 10-20 minutes. Wrapping the hair in a towel, wearing a shower cap, or applying heat from an old-fashioned bonnet hair dryer can help them penetrate and work better.
For coarse, extremely damaged, or very curly hair, the Ojon product line contains pure palm nut oil to replenish lost moisture. Ojon is expensive, but a small amount of most of the treatments is quite effective. Its Climate Control Gel helps to prevent curls from going limp even during summer’s worst humidity.
Ouidad, Kiehl’s, and Phytoplage also make good hair masks and deep conditioning treatments to use after sun exposure. Less expensive options are available from L’Oréal, Beyond the Zone, and Hask.