Here at HuffPost Style, we are passionate about protecting our skin from the sun. Laying out on the beach for hours may feel relaxing, however, once you start to notice fine lines, wrinkles and age spots, you’ll regret not wearing sunscreen religiously.
Now, we want to bring to your attention another potentially harmful aspect of spending a day at the shore: hair damage from salt water. You’re probably wondering what could be so bad about taking a dip in the ocean. Isn’t salt water healing? Yes, it helps to detox the skin, reduce swelling and treat wounds, among many other benefits. But overexposure to salt water can wreak havoc on your hair.
“Your hair’s water content is what makes it stretchy, elastic and moisturized — kind of like your skin. And, similar to your skin and the rest of your body, your hair can become ‘dehydrated’ and dry if too much moisture is lost through evaporation. And even more so if that moisture is not replenished,” said Elizabeth Cunnane Phillips, trichologist at Philip Kingsley. “As the sea has high salt content, it is osmotic, meaning that it leaches water out of your hair. The result? Dry, parched and brittle locks.”
Celebrity hairstylist Rene Fris of Salon SCK in New York City adds, “The hair becomes dull, tangled, rough feeling and can be hard to comb or brush out. If you have color in your hair, salt water damage would give it a very hard texture.”
Once you shampooed your hair, you may even notice that it takes longer to blow-dry or you’re having problems getting your locks to curl or hold a style. Cunnane Phillips notes that “in its worst form, salt water damage causes the ends of the hair to split, and breakage can begin.”
To prevent salt water from damaging your strands, take these expert-recommended steps before and after you leave the beach.
Wash your hair with a pre-shampoo conditioning treatment, such as Philip Kingsley Elasticizer, or apply a pre-sun and swim product like Swimcap. This will help mitigate the rigors of the summer elements and prevent hair color from fading due to sun exposure.
Leave-in conditioner is a must to keep the hair moist and soft, and to make it harder for the salt water to damage the hair. Look for a spray formula that you can toss in your beach bag and re-apply throughout the day.
To help protect your scalp from UV rays, use a protective hair cream containing SPF over your hair and on your part. Another simple yet effective method is to saturate a Q-tip with a broad-spectrum sunscreen and apply it directly to the part line. This is important to do before heading out to the beach so there is time for it to absorb to provide full coverage and protection.
For a post-beach DIY treatment, you can whip up a hair mask made out of lukewarm honey and buttermilk. The honey will restore moisture and shine, while the buttermilk will soothe dry locks and leave them silky.
For a major moisture-boost that will target split ends, whisk together two eggs, a few tablespoons of olive oil, half of a ripe avocado and 2 ounces of purified water. Work the mixture into hair with your fingertips, leave on for 10 minutes and then wash out.