By Marissa DeSantis
Sun, swimming pools, and dips in the ocean make for a summer well spent. But they haven’t been doing your hair any favors. If you’ve noticed discoloration or hair that feels dry, brittle, and tough to get a comb through, it’s time to rethink your routine. “Prolonged exposure to the sun damages the outside cover of the hair strand, called the cuticle,” Fekkai stylist Stephane Andre tells us of the cause behind these fragile hair symptoms. Similarly, chlorinated pools and the ocean can lead to dryness, breakage, and hair discoloration if you’re not taking the proper precautions. “Your hair is particularly vulnerable to sun damage if it is color treated,” Andre explains, though it’s important to note that sun, chlorine, and salt water exposure are still damaging to all hair textures and colors.
While Andre shares that you can’t reverse the damage that’s already been done, you can keep it from happening in the future (or at the very least, cut back on the severity of the damage being caused during these last weeks of warm weather).
Ahead, he shares his tips for keeping hair protected and helping to renourish stressed-out strands.
We’ve become so good about keeping our skin slathered in SPF when we’re outside, but our hair (and scalp!) needs some attention, too. “Wearing a hat in the sun will protect your hair from sun damage,” Andre says of the importance of covering up. You can also protect your hair and scalp with a broad spectrum sunscreen like Coola Scalp & Hair Mist SPF 30, which was specifically formulated not to weigh down the hair or leave it feeling greasy.
“If you swim in a chlorinated pool, wear a swim cap or put a mask in your hair and wear it up in a bun,” Andre advises.
Conditioning masks or leave-in conditioners are great options to saturate your hair with pre-swim, but if you’re in a pinch, you can also use coconut oil to help better protect your hair from the stripping effects of chlorine.
Once you’re out of the water (whether it was a pool or the ocean), Andre recommends rinsing your hair with cold water. “Clear, cold water is your best friend when it comes to restoring shine,” he says. “The cold water seals the hair cuticle and reduces greasiness,” he explains, adding that a gentle clarifying shampoo like the Fekkai Apple Cider Detox Rinse can further help to remove chemicals and build up (just be sure to follow up with a hydrating conditioner).
Once you’re back from your last beach trip, make sure that you invest in a scalp restoring treatment, as a healthy scalp is essential for healthy hair. Andre’s pick is the Fekkai Apple Cider Detox Scrub, which is safe on hair that’s chemically and color treated. “It will remove product buildup, dirt, excess oil, and dead skin that gathers at the roots of your hair,” he says.
The scrub’s hero ingredient, apple cider vinegar, is also thought to help with balancing the scalp’s pH, soothing irritation with its anti-inflammatory properties, and restoring shine and smoothness.
If your hair is already experiencing damage from the sun and swimming, be extra diligent about your hair care routine. To restore moisture to your hair, invest in a nourishing mask like Christophe Robin Regenerating Hair Mask, which has antioxidant-rich ingredients like prickly pear seed oil. Andre also stresses that minimizing your hair’s exposure to heat styling is crucial, as that can further damage the hair (especially when it’s already fragile). If you do reach for the blow dryer, always use a heat protectant on your hair first.