by Stephen Anthony
Summer has officially begun, which brings relaxing days in the sun—poolside or on the beach. As calming and enjoyable as this may seem, it is important to safeguard your hair. I have many active and athletic women among my clientele who are extremely conscious of taking care of their bodies, but seem to ignore or even neglect their hair. They always remember to cover their skin with a broad spectrum sunscreen before a run or tennis or golf, but forget to protect their hair.
South Florida’s summer climate and harmful UVA/UVB rays bring a picnic basket full of challenges to hair and scalp: frizz from humidity and dehydration from chlorine, salt water and heat. The sensitive skin of the scalp, neck and ears is extremely vulnerable to sunburn.
Avoid shampooing every day and refrain from using sticky hairsprays or gels and products containing sodium chloride or alcohol. Most shampoos contain sodium chloride, which is table salt. It is an inexpensive way to thicken a shampoo formulation and give it a rich, creamy consistency, the downside being the drying effects on the hair and scalp.
Be sure to rinse the hair well with fresh water both before and after swimming in chlorine or saltwater. Depending on where you live, you might consider a filter for your shower to avoid any impurities in the water. Community pools tend to have more chlorine than private pools. A clarifying shampoo is very useful to remove impurities from the hair. It is not something that should be used often, but definitely beneficial after exposure to chlorine or saltwater. Look for one that has a low pH of 4.5-6.0. Many use an ingredient called Flexon 130 which can gently remove what does not belong in the hair shaft while keeping the integrity of the hair. Personally, I like Paul Brown Hawaii Clarifying Shampoo. If a clarifying shampoo is not available, you can use a homemade mixture of one pint of filtered water mixed with one fourth cup cider vinegar.
When it’s humid, adding more moisture to the hair is necessary, otherwise the hair will suck up the moisture in the atmosphere resulting in frizz. Try shampooing less frequently. Using a dry shampoo to remove oils and pollutants from the scalp and hair is a great alternative.
Avoid too much heat styling from hair dryers, flat irons, hot rollers, and curling devices. Conditioning is a must! I cannot stress enough the need for protein-rich conditioners, such as kukui nut oil, coconut oil, jojoba oil, and olive oil, which will replace protein levels in the scalp and hair. Kukui nut oil has been used for centuries by the Hawaiian people. It has a very high concentration of the essential fatty acids linoleic and linolenic. In fact, it provides more essential fatty acids than the popular Moroccan argan oil. Plus, it’s molecular weight allows it to penetrate the hair shaft and skin easily. Because of its healing properties, it is often used to soothe burns on the skin. Additionally, any SPF-containing products are a MUST for both the hair and scalp.
A shorter haircut is a great idea for summer, or a less daring approach is a scarf or hat with UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) and a tight weave. Avoid hot showers and do not put hair in a ponytail when wet. In fact, if you choose a ponytail, always use a soft cloth scrunchie instead of a rubber elastic band.
Diet is equally important in keeping your skin and hair in optimal condition.
Always drink a lot of water. Consider supplements like coconut and lemon. Rich in vitamin C and anti-oxidants, lemon can vitalize and improve hair growth. Eat plenty of dark green veggies and fruits. Broccoli is a rich source of vitamins that produce serums to protect hair. Carrots are not only delicious and colorful, but are rich in vitamin A for scalp health. If you’re a fan of nuts as I am, they provide zinc which prevents hair loss.
For those who color their hair with artificial hair color, consider switching from permanent (which contains ammonia) to semi-permanent for summer. This will condition and shine the hair as well as refresh any faded hair from the sun and chlorine.
Armed with all this information, pack a bag and head to the pool or beach and enjoy a healthy summer!
Stephen Anthony is an American Board Certified Haircolorist, expert hairstylist, and Pivot Point trained haircutter. He enjoys Ashtanga yoga when not working. He can be found at Tracy Carroll Salon in Wilton Manors. See ad page 58.