There are lots of things to love about summer, but the damage to our hair caused by warm-weather variables like sun, sweat and chlorine definitely isn’t one of them. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to protect our hair against damaging UV rays, pool chemicals, and dulling buildup, zero of which involve staying indoors all season.
Get a trim.
Even—especially—if you plan on rocking long locks this summer, you should be prepared to part with your overgrown ends before hitting the beach for optimal hair health. As hair grows out, split ends continue to split up the hair shaft, so nip them in the bud as quickly as you can. Just a dusting off of the ends makes a huge difference, and the more breakage you cut off now, the less you’ll have to cut off later.
Use a UV protectant.
Just as we put sunscreen on our face and body to protect ourselves from the sun, our hair should be no different. UVA and UVB rays don’t only cause damage, they also oxidize the hair, which means that your precious (and oftentimes costly) color could be a thing of the past if you don’t take the right measures to defend it. Apply a few drops of the weightless Bumble and bumble Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil ($38, bumbleandbumble.com) to damp hair for a glossy, flawless finish with UVA/UVB filters, or dispense a few spritzes of Kérastase Soleil Aqua-Seal ($42, kerastase-usa.com) into hands and run it through your lengths and ends for a waterproof veil of UV coverage.
Use water first.
It sounds counterintuitive, but dampening your hair with water from the tap before you step into the pool helps to protect it from the damaging effects of chlorine. If your hair’s cuticle is already saturated with water, it will absorb significantly less of the pool’s chemicals than dry, porous hair alone. Try adding a handful of conditioner to the mix, too, for extra hydration.
Take advantage of the sun for a deep conditioning boost.
Work with the sun rather than against it. Next time you’re laying out, coat your damp or dry hair in your favorite conditioning mask and let the heat work its magic. We love the super-rich Ojon Rare Blend Deep Conditioner ($34, ojon.com). It contains two phases: a blend of seven oils and a moisture-rich cream conditioner, which, when combined, work to soften, hydrate, and repair even the most damaged tresses. Add the sun’s heat to the mix, and you’ve got yourself an intensive treatment on par with the salon.
Shampoo every other day.
More sweating means your hair gets greasier in the summer than the rest of the year, but resist the temptation to shampoo daily (or even more frequently). Use a dry shampoo like Alterna Bamboo Beach Mango Coconut Refreshing Dry Shampoo ($20, shop.alternahaircare.com) between washes, and lather up with a clarifying shampoo every other day.
Cover it up.
If the sun is particularly harsh, or if your hair is particularly vulnerable, there’s no shame in using a scarf or hat to shield your locks—in fact, we think it’s one of the chicest summer styles. Make a fashion statement out of it with a cute patterned head wrap, like any of the Bella Super-Wide Headwraps ($16, urbanoutfitters.com) or the glamorous J. Crew Airy Summer Straw Hat ($26.50, jcrew.com).
Read more: 8 Sexy Summer Hairstyles