6 Summer Hair Stressors—and How to Fix Them

SOS: Save Our Strands!
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There are so many things to love about the summer, from long days at beach to taking dips in the pool to soaking up as much sun as you can. But here’s the bad news: All that fun in the sun can take a major toll on your hair. “Different seasons will create different stressors and your hair care needs to adapt,” says Dendy Engelman, a New York-based dermatologist and Mohs micrographic surgeon. “In the summer, it is important to protect our hair from the sun, heat, and more. We can accrue so much damage from extra time spent outside.” Read on as experts share how to save your strands and keep your hair healthy all summer long.

Summer hair stressor #1: Chlorine

Any blonde who has seen her locks go green from too much pool time knows the dangers of chlorine. “Chlorine is a harsh chemical,” says hairstylist Eliut Rivera of Eliut Salon. “It dries out the hair by stripping it of its natural oils. Over time hair becomes weak, breaking easily.” Plus, chlorine gets absorbed into the hair shaft and strips the hair of sebum, resulting in dry scalp and brittle hair, warns Ryan Richman, Kérastase Consulting Hair Stylist.

Strand saver: To protect your hair, Engelman recommends wearing a swimming cap or coating strands with oil- and silicone-based products. “Once you’re out of the water, immediately wash and rinse off any residual chlorine that may be clinging onto your hair and skin,” she says. If your hair still feels brittle, try Virtue Restorative Treatment Mask, Rivera’s go-to for damaged hair. “This product fully replenishes dry hair, making it look healthy and feel silky after only one use,” he says. “It contains Amaranthus Caudatus seed extract, which repairs damaged hair strands, and baobab seed oil and hydrolyzed quinoa, which moisturizes. Use it once a week. Color-treated hair will also be more vibrant, and it will reduce overall breakage and frizz.” For blondes that are looking brassy, the John Frieda Sheer Blonde Go Blonder Lemon Miracle Masquewill brighten and restore your hue while strengthening and protecting.

Summer hair stressor #2: Salt water 

There’s a reason everyone loves beachy waves—that just-back-from-the-shore style has the best effortless texture. And while it looks amazing, it’s actually bad news for your locks. “Salt water is dehydrating for the hair, meaning it pulls water out of hair cuticles,” Engelman says. “Hair needs moisture to stay pliable and strong, otherwise it splits or breaks.” That’s not all—Richmancautions that salt water can also make your hair harder to style. And no one wants to deal with split ends.

Strand saver: Just like a tan, the only healthy beachy waves come from a bottle, so use Texture Sexy Hair Beach’n Spray Texturizing Beach Sprayto get the look, which has nourishing almond oil and avocado oil and 24-hour humidity protection. On your next beach day, protect your hair as you would at the pool from chlorine. Engelman suggests applying a leave-in conditioner to coat the hair cuticle, which won’t allow moisture to escape. Her pick is Living Proof No Frizz Leave-In Conditioner; it’s paraben-free and safe for color treated hair.

Summer hair stressor #3: UV exposure

“Exposure to free radicals without antioxidants to neutralize them can cause serious oxidative stress to the body and, in this case, the hair,” Engelman says. “It damages the cuticle, allowing harmful rays and heat to penetrate deeper. The unstable molecules steal from other molecules, weakening them in the process. Some studies have shown that this can speed along the catagen phase, which causes hair to detach prematurely.” Yep, too much sunshine can literally make you lose your hair.

Strand saver: You’ll want to nourish your locks post a long day spent outdoors.“After sun exposure, shampoo your hair with Kérastase Bain Après-Soleiland condition with its perfect match Kérastase Masque Après Soleil to reconstruct and smooth the hair fiber, improve shine, and provide UV protection,” Richman says.

Summer hair stressor #4: Tangles

“Hair is more tangle-prone in the summer months because of the exposure to sun, heat, wind, chlorine, sand, and salt,” Richman says. “When hair becomes dry and the cuticle layer is no longer smooth, the hairs tangle in knots, making hair harder to manage.”

Strand saver: Detangling your hair is what can really deliver the damage, since roughly combing it out can lead to breakage. Always apply a detangler, like Kenra Platinum Luxe One Leave-In, which does double duty to condition. “Don’t force hair, but gently untangle and use as much product as necessary to loosen any knots,” Engelman says. Richman suggests spraying a detangler on towel dried hair, then brushing your hair with a detangling brush from ends to root, working your way up to the scalp.

Summer hair stressor #5: Wind

Few things are cooler—literally—than driving with the top down during the warmer months. But while the wind whipping through your hair feels great, it not so great for its health.“Wind blowing your hair can create a lot of friction and damage the cuticle layer of your hair, causing weaker hair over time,” Richman says.

Strand saver: We’re not saying you have put the top up, since the solution is pretty simple: Just tie your hair up with a silk scrunchie, like one by Slip, to prevent your hair from blowing around. “The silk fabric is easy on the hair and doesn’t cause damage,”Richman says.

Summer hair stressor #6: Hair dye

We totally get wanting highlights or a lighter hue for the season, but coupled with all of the other summer hair stressors we mention, it makes for even more damage this time of year. “To lighten hair, you have to strip it of its natural color,” Rivera says. “This makes the hair more vulnerable to dryness and breakage. Unfortunately, it is a part of the dying process.”

Strand saver: Since lightening hair requires bleaching it, it’s already in a fragile state, and hot tools are notorious for doing a number on hair. “I advise clients to use a primer before applying hot tools or a blow dryer,” Rivera says. “Coating the hair will protect the color and the cuticle longer.” Try Garnier Fructis Color Vibrancy 1 Minute Hair Mask + Goji Extract to restore vibrancy to your color.