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Protect your hair from chlorine and beach salt

Up at the crack of dawn and into the sea, all day in the sun and maybe an afternoon dip in the pool — sounds like a perfect summer day, but think about how your hair must feel. Find out how to protect it to keep it in top shape all summer long.

Woman at the beach

Summer days are long and lazy, often spent lying around the pool or at the beach. While your body might feel fantastic and your happiness will definitely be peaking, your hair might not be feeling so great. We don’t really spare much thought for the pressures we’re putting our strands under with so many hours spent in the sun, the saltwater and the chlorine. If your hair is starting to feel the strain of summer, follow these tips to get it back in top condition.

Why does it get damaged?

We’ve all felt our dry and brittle strands after weeks of lazing about in the sun and we’ve all seen the blondies with green chlorinated hair, but why does saltwater, sun and chlorine have such damaging effects on our strands?

First, let’s look at chlorine. This is a drying agent that’s used for its disinfecting power, so it’s no wonder that it’s no good for our hair. According to some experts, the natural lubricants that protect your hair cuticles are sucked dry when in chlorine, which makes your hair look dull and can cause split ends.

Chlorine can also damage a good hair colouring job, especially when paired with lengthy sun exposure. Chlorine and sunshine are believed by some to cause a chemical reaction that can alter the colour of your hair. This is why blonde hair looks a little green after too long in a heavily chlorinated pool.

As for saltwater, some argue that perfectly clean seawater shouldn’t harm your locks, but instead should actually offer minerals that are beneficial to a healthy head of hair. However, too much exposure to polluted seawater combined with direct sunlight can damage your hair. Salt is a natural abrasive and too much of it can dehydrate both your skin and your hair. (The salt in your sweat also has a similar effect, which is why it’s important to wash your hair after excessive sweating.)

What can you do about it?

Prevention is better than a cure, so keep your hair out of direct sunlight by always wearing a hat, and pop a swimming cap on when you’re taking a dip.

However, for those of you out there who we know will never succumb to wearing a swimming cap in public, see if you can find a leave-in conditioner with an SPF to pop in your hair before you dive in the water. At the very least, saturate your hair with fresh water so the strands won’t be able to absorb as much chlorine.

After swimming, rinse your hair thoroughly with water, making sure that you get all of the salt (and sand if you’ve been at the beach) out of your hair. Use a shampoo if you can, preferably one specifically designed to help remove chlorine. A leave-in conditioner or conditioning styling product should also be used.

Pat your hair gently to dry and wrap it in a towel rather than rubbing your strands with force. Use a wide-toothed comb to detangle your strands and if you have to blow-dry, avoid using a high setting but rather stick to a cool or medium temperature.

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