Hair In The Sun

Hair In The Sun

The message about protecting skin from sun damage has been received loud and clear. But hair? Another story. And yet hair (being basically ‘dead’) has no powers to replenish and repair itself whatsoever. Which is why, by the end of summer, it can quite simply look like a fried haystack: we’d never expose our skin to sun for two weeks without protection – yet do you give a thought to the equal harm sun is capable of, when it comes to hair…? Sun, salt, wind and chlorine wreak havoc – especially if yours is coloured or processed. So here’s our five-point plan for locks that stay lustrous till the sun sets on summer.

Wear a hat whenever possible. A physical barrier against UV light is optimal (and the bonus, of course, is that it shields the delicate skin on your face at the same time). We’re especially taken with Anthropologie’s hat offering this year, but a long-standing favourite range is the Aussie brand Kaminski (worth the investment). Holiday destinations are great places to pick up hats, of course; we then keep a collection on pegs by the back door as a reminder to plop one on every time we head outdoors.

Before you take a dip, rinse hair in fresh water. Hair – especially coloured hair – is absorbent, so if you fill its ‘reservoir’ with fresh water, the damaging salt and chlorine are less likely to penetrate. Even better: smooth on a hair mask or conditioner before you go in the sun; its action will actually be enhanced by the warmth. You can then rinse when you get back to your hotel room, shampoo and deep condition. Even if you only do condition the ends when you’re in the sun (which are the oldest, and therefore the most damaged), it’s better than nothing. 

On which note, up your hair masque regime to twice a week. Every single hairdresser we have ever interviewed for Beauty Bible has told us: the best thing you can do for hair is to apply a hair mask, once a week, and leave it on for as long as possible. We like Green People Intensive Repair Conditioner, and nothing rivals the divine scent of Aromatherapy Associates Conditioner. Just remember: more is more, at this time of year.

Wear long or mid-length hair tied up. Ensure the ‘aged’ ends are tucked in as these are always most susceptible to damage. (Our hairdresser friend Richard Ward is a big fan of French plaits: ‘they’re a great style choice as they leave only the better-conditioned root area exposed, minimising damage.’) Religiously keep bleached hair out of chlorinated water, or it’ll develop a green tinge; if worst comes to worst and that happens, reach for a ‘clarifying’ shampoo (i.e. Avalon Organics Lemon Clarifying Shampoo).

Wash hair in lukewarm water. Hairdresser Norris Ogario tells us that hot water simply dries brittle hair out even more, and recommends a gentle shampoo and conditioner, lukewarm water – with a final burst of cold water, to help ‘seal’ the cuticles for better shine. (Jo swears by this.)

Leave the hairdryer at home. Allowing your hair to dry naturally on holiday means you’re not adding insult to UV-induced ‘injury’. Throw some large Velcro rollers in your suitcase, instead – great for adding va-va-volume and oomph. Or tousle-dry, and add a little wax for definition.

Immediately you get home, have a trim. Ends are always going to be worst-affected by any sun exposure: the older the hair, the more vulnerable it is. Before you head holiday-wards, book a hair appointment for almost as soon as you land, to have the ends snipped; your style will look infinitely better, with any frazzled bits scissored off.

And wherever you’re headed, enjoy…


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