Summertime Hair Care Tips

It’s that time of year again- summer! ️ Here’s a repost of my summer hair care tips with updated information to help you protect your hair from the heat, sun, humidity, plus chlorine and salt water.

Just as the sun has the potential to damage your skin, it can do the same for your hair too. Excessive sun exposure is the most frequent cause of structural impairment of the hair shaft.

I spoke with my dermatologist about the ultraviolet rays of the sun and here’s what he had to say, “Fried hair isn't just a figure of speech. The ultraviolet rays of the sun actually "cook the hair shaft." The damage is most obvious when we see color-treated hair becoming faded, bleached, and brassy. Even hair that isn't colored will suffer from sun-induced stress. Those UV rays dry out hair and rough up the normally smooth cuticle, or outer layer, of the hair shaft”.

Did You Know?

According to a study led by the National Institute of Health, seasonal changes bring about changes in human hair growth. During the summer our hair has the potential to thrive. The weather creates an ideal environment for our scalp because it helps keep our sebum in a more liquified state so it can slide down our hair strands more easily.

UVA/UVB affect our scalp and hair follicles differently. Our scalp is made up of five layers of scale-like epithelial cells. When our scalp is exposed to UVB radiation from the sun it can burn a layer or layers of the epidermis, which can cause the scalp to harden which not only temporarily blocks sebum and sweat production, but interrupts your hair from growing. In order to heal itself, the shedding and regeneration process goes into over drive. This throws off your pH leaving your scalp and hair follicles more susceptible to infections.

UVA rays penetrate deeper into the dermis layer where your hair follicles system is located. Overtime, UVA waves fry the cells in that layer. So regular exposure to the sun causes your hair follicles to shrink and as your hair follicles shrink, your hair grows out thinner, weaker, and slower.

With that being said, protecting the hair's cuticle is very important for keeping the hair shaft's integrity. Excessive sun exposure is the most frequent cause of the hair shaft's structural impairment, it includes degradation and loss of proteins as well as degradation of the hair pigment, especially in lighter colored hair.
Protecting the cuticle is very important for keeping hair shaft's integrity. UVB rays are responsible for protein loss and UVA rays are responsible for color changes. Just as darker clothing is better with protecting your skin from the sun Melanin (Dark skin and/or dark thicker hair types) does better from shielding scalp from UVA/UVB rays. They can partially immobilize free radicals and block their entrance in keratin matrix. (US National Library of Medicine).

How to Protect Your Scalp and Hair:

Keeping your hair completely covered is the best way to avoid exposure altogether, especially if your hair is chemically treated. If you plan to be out in the sun for more than an hour wear a hat or scarf. Try to find UVA/UVB Filtered hats or head scarf with a ultraviolet protection factor of 50 or higher.

Use an umbrella as a shield. According to a U.S. study published in JAMA Dermatology, any fully-functioning handheld umbrella can block more than three-quarters of ultraviolet (UV) light on a sunny day. Black ones do even better, blocking at least 90 percent of rays. 

Use oils like coconut oil, raspberry oil (showed absorbance in the UVB/UVC range for use as a broad spectrum UV protectant. Source: Science Direct) sunflower, safflower, grapeseed oil, etc. or leave in butters (like Shea butter). My personal oil combination is Righteous Roots Oil.

Note: Coconut oil is effective for protecting hair from the sun. Coconut oil is the only oil found to reduce protein loss for both undamaged/damaged hair.

If you've had excessive sun exposure, make sure to restore your hair by focusing on hydration and restoring protein with protein treatments.

Chlorine is Extremely Drying

Chlorine poses a great threat to our hair and scalp due to its oxidative qualities. Think of oxidation as disintegrating or eating away at an organic matter like bacteria cells in the pool, skin cells and protein cells your hair is made of. This alkaline chemical can eat away oils and sebum on your hair strands then continues to eat away at the protein fibers. Our hair strand is a dead fiber so it doesn't have the ability to repair itself like our skin does. That's why after we swim our hair looks incredibly dry and brittle.

Most of the damage chlorine does to the hair and skin happens while in the pool. Once you get out the remaining residue continues to absorb. The solution is two-fold; one that prevents or at least slows down the oxidation process while you swim as well stops the chemical from continuing to absorb after you get out the pool.

Regular exposure to chlorine water can result in: discolored hair, dry, brittle, straw-like hair that's prone to breakage, lack of shine, dry, itchy scalp.

Create a Layer of Protection

Prior to swimming, you can prepare your hair by soaking it thoroughly in water and add a leave in conditioner/deep conditioner. Our hair is naturally permeable to water but can only take in so much. If you thoroughly saturate your hair with water or with conditioner prior to swimming, your hair will be less able to absorb the chlorinated water or salt water if you're going in the ocean.

Here’s a genius idea I learned from @honeyblodegigi:

Refrigerate conditioners and stylers. It will encourage your cuticle to “close” or lay flat.

Acidic Spritz

Use products with a pH that’s more on the acidic side to help cuticles lay flat. The pH is the most important chemical feature of the skin and body. Maintaining the correct pH value of the hair and scalp is essential for the overall health of hair. Hair products can control the pH of hair. Rewetting or dampening your hair with an acidic spritz will help to keep the pH from swinging.

The pH stability spritz helps in re-balancing your hairs natural pH level which insures that your cuticles lay flat and smoothed down, this slows down the natural progression to breakage.

  • Balances the pH level of your scalp and hair

  • Quickly hydrates and moisturizes hair and scalp

  • pH - 4

Best Time to Use

  • After hair has been exposed to cold or hot weather

  • After washing your hair

  • When hair is dry and feels brittle

After Swimming

Vitamin C naturally neutralizes chlorine and is a much safer natural alternative than the traditional chlorine removal shampoos. Both ascorbic acid and sodium ascorbate (two common forms of vitamin C) will neutralize chlorine (neither form of vitamin C is considered a hazardous substance) according to the USDA.

Drench hair in a neutralizing liquid, preferably vitamin C ascorbic powder and water mixture (can be used all over your body). 

Measurements are up to you. Just make sure the vitamin C powder is completely dissolved before using it. (Let the vitamin C sit for 10-15 mins.) Follow up with a conditioner/deep conditioner (leave in at least 30 mins.). Or rinse with apple cider vinegar as a clarifying rinse (test it to make sure its pH is around 4, because if it's too acidic, it can harm your hair). Apply a deep conditioner to you hair after washing. Other option: use a chlorine removal shampoo with EDTA (Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid).

Or must but the Swim Spray. I was introduced to this product by @curliegirlie143. SwimSpray is 100% natural, fragrance-free, sulfate-free, silicone free and free from artificial colors. It has been independently verified to be 400x more effective than traditional anti-chlorine shampoos, soaps, and body washes. And it is gentle on hair and skin and is safe for all ages – including children.

Last but not least, don’t forget to hydrate inside and out by drinking a considerable amount of water.