Summer’s known for its carefree feeling, but you may have something else to say about that when it comes to your hair. Sun, wind, salt and chlorine: While each comes part and parcel with a fun day at the beach or in the backyard, they—combined with extra hot and sticky weather—can lead to dry, frizzy and brittle strands, faded color and frustrating styling attempts.
Protect your hair and help it look its best this summer with tips from our beauty experts:
Rethink Your Shampoo Routine
While you might not wash your hair every day (especially if it tends to dry out), you may want to make an exception in the summer if you have a normal to oily scalp. Heat and humidity can cause your scalp to be oilier, even sweaty, which can turn your hair limp and slick. Washing daily can help: Use only a dime-sized dollop of shampoo and focus it on your scalp and roots to avoid stripping strands of too much moisture. Dry shampoo is a great solution if you do skip a wash; these sprays are powder-based, which helps them absorb greasiness. Simply apply it to roots, brush and go.
Tame the Frizz
If your hair is dry or porous, humid summer days can be its biggest enemy: In its attempt to hydrate itself by soaking moisture up from the air, it expands and alters its outer layer, causing strands to frizz. And drier, hot weather only exacerbates your hair’s “thirst.” Try using a daily leave-in conditioner (spray or cream), which can replenish your locks with lasting moisture and help keep it smooth. Take a break from hot styling tools, and when you do use the blow dryer, try a diffuser. The attachment replaces the regular frizz-producing blast of heat with a wider, gentler circle of air flow.
Block Harmful Rays
Daily exposure to UV rays can dull color and zap moisture hair proteins need, drying out strands and causing your hair to weaken and become prone to breakage. A hat can provide optimal protection, while sun-protective sprays can shield hair that does see the light of day (they’re also usually great at keeping hair detangled in otherwise very welcome summer breezes). Apply these creams or sprays before spending an extended period of time in the sun—ingredients can vary, so look for labels that indicate “UVA/UVB protection.”
Use Swim Smarts
Chlorinated and salty water can be quite harsh on your hair, especially if you swim often, which can leave strands extremely dry. Pools are well-known for their potential to turn colored hair, too, and salt water left behind as hair dries can weigh down strands. A high bun or a swim cap can keep hair partially or fully dry while you take a dip. Or, if you plan to get hair wet, hop in the shower first: Soaking hair with clean water helps it absorb less pool or sea water when you take a dunk. When possible, shampoo right after your swim.
Nourish and Restore
Try a deep conditioning treatment once a week to make it easier for your hair to retain its natural volume, softness and shine through all its summer stress. Some do the trick in just minutes, and others take more time but penetrate strands more thoroughly. You can even create your own treatment using olive and coconut oils, working them through and letting hair sit in a loose ponytail for an hour or two before washing and conditioning as normal. The thicker your hair, the richer the product you should use.
Go With Your Natural Style
Allowing your hair to be itself will help it behave more predictably and save you time in front of the mirror. Avoid using a blow dryer or straightening iron on curls and, instead, apply an anti-frizz serum to seal cuticles against humidity and let hair air dry. For thin, straight hair, try texturizing sprays that add volume to strands and create humidity-proof body. Bonus tip: If you have bangs, tie them back—and avoid a sweaty, stringy look—by using bobby pins or a headband.
Visit the Salon
Summer is also a great time to make an appointment with your stylist. The right haircut can help improve how your hair naturally falls, making it easier for you to work with. Discuss some fuss-free styles you can do yourself before heading home.