Real talk: As divine as a day at the beach (or a pool!) is, it certainly puts your hair through the ringer. That’s because, while lying by (and in) water is an ideal way to spend your time in the summer, the elements—namely the super high humidity and the uber-strong sun, along with the salty ocean and chlorine-saturated pools—can take a toll on your lengths.
“The light from the sun damages your hair by causing alterations to the protein of the strand itself,” says Kevin Manusco, Nexxus global creative director. “That’s when you see things like your color lightening, and stiffening because your hair becomes more porous.”
It’s all thanks to the UV rays, according to dermatologist Francesca Fusco, MD, which damage the outermost layer of the hair’s structure (the cuticle), leading to broken hair, split ends, and discoloration (when the hair structure is damaged, hair color molecules can leach out). And since the cuticle is the hair’s first line of defense, that makes the entire strand becomes more vulnerable to further damage, notes Manusco—and from there it becomes an unhealthy cycle.
“The sun can cause the mechanical behavior of the hair to change,” explains Manusco. Your hair has unchanged proteins, which make your tresses more resilient to everything you do to it, but once the sun damages it, it gets rougher and more prone to breakage and other woes through the sun causing the structures in your hair to break down.
To not only protect but restore your strands on the reg, use a reparative shampoo and conditioner such as the Briogeo Don’t Despair Repair Shampoo ($36) to replenish moisture and help maintain structure and a protein-rich hair mask like Nexxus Keraphix Damage Healing Treatment Masque ($4), which helps to repair and strengthen the strand with hydrolyzed proteins.
Besides the sun, the water you’re chilling by can also be a damaging culprit. “Chlorine from pools burns into the hair, and then when it dries it crystallizes, which causes more problems,” says Manusco. “And salt in the ocean crystallizes too, which becomes even more drying and damaging to your lengths.” After going for a dip, he advises to rinse your hair really thoroughly. “If you’re going to expose it to chlorine or salt, the best thing to do is rinse it—it makes a huge difference.” This, according to him, helps prevent the crystallization from destroying your strands.
To fully protect your hair from the summer elements, the best thing you can do is wear a hat. “Or sit in the shade—anywhere you can be covered,” says Manusco. Sorry, sun.
Hold things back with this Meghan Markle-inspired wispy bun, the hairstyle of the summer. You can also protect your locks with this apple cider vinegar treatment.
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