“It’s almost that time of year again,” says Les Haverty, Artistic Director of FHI Heat, a manufacturer of professional hair tools. “The beach, swimming pools, and many outdoor activities are about to cause aggravation because they can adversely affect your hair’s moisture and color. These days the nice thing is that we have many helpful options to protect our investment in our hair. I will outline my recommendations or strategy to maintain your hair’s brilliance and shine through out the summer season.”
Shampoo with hydrating, color safe, sulfate-free shampoos. “These are usually the safest for daily use. I recommend sulfate free shampoos because they use natural cleansers to clean the hair without using the harsh sulfate detergents that are responsible for degrading the color or lowlights you spent your hard earned money on. I would also recommend an acidifying conditioner. These are usually citrus-based conditioners which have a pH value between 3.0 and 3.7, and remember that hair’s natural pH is 4.5 to 5.5. Acidifying conditioners help seal the cuticle around the color molecules on the hair shaft and allow for the color to last longer!”
Wash hair with tepid or lukewarm water. “I recommend that one use tepid or lukewarm water when shampooing to get it clean. Washing with too hot water can actually open the cuticle removing the hair’s natural moisture and further dry out the hair making it feel like card board or a corn stalk. It also contributes to color loss. Also nobody likes the extremely cold water in the shower — burrr. This can be done daily (for oily scalps), but if you are one with a dry scalp, every other day is okay as well. On in between days, try using a natural bristle brush and brush the hair from scalp to ends allowing the natural oils or sebum to cover the hair, after all this is your body’s custom conditioner for your hair.
Shampoo immediately following a dip in a swimming pool. The chlorine and bromine used in today’s pools can strip hair and discolor it. In the summer, the sun can amplify these chemicals increasing the stress to the hair, leaving it very brittle. Also, wash hair right after pool time and ocean time. The oceans contain massive amounts of salt, which can cause your haircolor to fade as well. Add the sun’s solar energy into the mix and you will start to see the bleaching effect on hair, the sun is like a bleach factory. At the very least, one should rinse the hair off with tepid fresh water after pool and ocean swims.”
Stick with a good conditioning product throughout the summer. “I stay stick with the acidifying type for daily use if you have color and highlights. The pH is usually between 3.0 to 3.5 for these conditioners. The acid helps keep the cuticle closed while holding onto the hair color. For this type of hair I would also try a hydrating conditioner once every two weeks to maintain the softness and condition of the hair. If unsure as to your conditioner’s pH, I recommend giving the manufacturer a call. For extremely dry and brittle hair try keeping a comb in the shower as well. After applying the conditioner to the hairs ends and mid strand, comb the conditioner through the hair. This makes sure that the hair, which needs the most help, absorbs it.”
Style hair with alcohol free and silicone-free products. “Some manufacturers claim that the alcohol dries the product and not the hair … but if your hair is already on the dry side naturally, I would stay away from mousses, gels, and sprays containing alcohol. The non-alcoholic products work just as good, if not better because they are non-damaging. Once the alcohol in the hairspray dries and attaches to the hair, it forms a bond and that bond is strong. When shampooing, the alcohol is also going to strip some color and moisture from the hair. Nowadays we have such a great selection of natural hair sprays, shampoos and conditioners that work fantastic. I think it’s worth the shopping time. For styling products, I recommend serums that contain no drying silicone, but instead natural moisturizers, such as FHI Heat’s Hot Sauce which contains jojoba crystals. Silicone leads to brittle hair, and when heat is applied, the silicone melts and embeds itself into the hair shaft, causing color not to stick to hair!
Finish hair with UV-enriched sprays. “Use a spray or pomade that has a UV protectant and use just enough to get the desired look. With pomades in the summer months, be careful not to apply too much as it will weight the hair down and the sun’s heat may actually make the hair look greasy.” Here’s my at-home tip for summer beach hair and skin spray: Boil 2 cups of bottled water. Add 4 tablespoons of SPF 40 or higher sunscreen (lotion or cream works best). Stir until well emulsified. Let cool. Pour into a clean spray bottle with sprayer nozzle. “I use this on my hair at the beach and also my skin for a recharge in battling the suns harmful UV rays … it also gives my hair that nice shiny look!”
Use gentle heat styling tools. Blowers, flat irons, curling irons, all hair tools that utilize ceramic, tourmaline and far-infrared heat can help prevent heat damage. Stay away from metal irons and blowers that produce infrared heat (non-healthy heat). Tools have a long way in the last few years. Once upon a time, the harmful infrared rays of curling irons and blow dryers did actually damage, fade, and even burn and scorch hair. Those days are long gone thanks to ceramic heater technology and the introduction of tourmaline gemstones in the construction of these tools. Ceramic heaters produce a soft, smooth heat wave pattern known as far-infrared heat, which is very gentle to the surface it penetrates — in this case hair.
“The last thing piece of advice: stay out of the sun whenever possible or at least wear a hat when prolonged outdoor exposure is in the forecast.”