The Best Ways to Protect Colored Hair from Sun, Chlorine, and Salt Water
What's on this page?
- What Summer Does to Your Hair
- How to Avoid or Fix Common Summer Hair Problems
- Try Heatless Styles
- Summing Up
The sun is shining bright, your tan is looking better than ever, and you are showing off all of your new swimsuits. It is summertime baby!
Although a lot of things seem to get better in the summer, no more freezing our butts off, there are some downsides. One of the biggest complaints beauty lovers have during the summer is how unruly their hair becomes, especially for those that color their lovely tresses.
Summer can wreak havoc on hair that has been dyed and natural manes. The ultraviolet rays of the sun, chlorine exposure when taking a dip in the pool, and the salty ocean water drenching your hair when you catch a wave – all cause damage and stress to your hair during the summer.
Luckily, there are many ways to protect your hair from all of these environmental stressors. We have all the expert tips and tricks to keep your hair looking its best all summer long. We have the hacks to beat all the punches that summer can throw at you.
Keep reading to learn more.
What Summer Does to Your Hair
There are many factors during the summer that just don’t play nice with your hair. The sun, chlorine, salt water, and even air conditioning can all affect your hair negatively. Too much sun can deplete your hair from hydration, leaving your hair dull and dry.
You know that ultraviolet rays that are released from the sun can affect your skin, but did you know that they cause problems for your hair too? Protecting your skin from the sun is something that many of us include in our summertime routine, but we tend to neglect sun hair care. Want to learn more about how UV rays affect your hair? Read this.
Even though your hair doesn’t actually burn, the UV rays can break down the cuticle. It essentially cooks the hair shaft. This can result in your hair cuticle becoming rough, even when it is usually smooth. Noticeable signs of this are your hair becoming dry, damaged, and frizzy. Sound familiar?
Did you know that it is also important to remember to protect your scalp during summer activities? The sun can actually cause your scalp to become dry or even sunburned. Even if your hairstyle covers your entire scalp, you still need to take special care of your scalp. Hair is not an effective protector against the sun’s UV rays.
An unhealthy scalp can directly affect the health of your hair. If your scalp becomes too dry, your roots may become damaged, possibly increasing hair fall out; certainly not a summer loving treat to look forward to!
If you want to protect your hair and scalp from UV rays, opt for a stylish hat while outside. No, we are not talking about a baseball cap. A wide-brimmed hat will provide protection to not just your head but also your face and neck, minimizing wrinkles and other sun damage.
Look for a hat that is tightly woven and that is from a brand that uses UV protection factor numbers (UPF). This will give you the peace of mind that the hat is tested and regulated to optimize your sun protection. This hat from Amazon is one that would be perfect. It has a UPF of 50, folds easily to fit in your beach bag, and is simple enough to match any bathing suit or outfit.
Sweat, We All Do it
Let’s be honest, in the summer most of us sweat more, like a lot more. This increase in sweat causes our hair to become sticky. The oil that is released by the glands on your scalp in addition to the sweat can attract dirt, dust, bacteria, and other environmental debris. That’s a nasty buildup you weren’t expecting!
When this builds on your scalp, pores may become blocked. This can cause itching, dryness, and dandruff. The buildup of debris may also result in increased hair fall out and split ends.
Due to our increased sweating, we tend to either over wash our hair; or not wash our hair enough. When the hair and scalp are not shampooed and conditioned correctly, your hair is much more likely to suffer during the summer months.
The high humidity that is often associated with the summer is the culprit for many bad hair days. The humidity can settle into your hair and cause it to weigh down. Not to mention the frizziness that it causes.
“I’m Melting,” Said Your Hair Color
Color-treated hair really takes a beating during the summer months. To make matters worse hair damage is the most obvious when hair has been color treated.
The chlorine and salt water can cause your hair color to fade faster, so can over washing. This is because they are stripping your hair of its natural oils, hair color, or other chemical processes like keratin treatments.
Certain hair colors have it worse than others. For example, those with blonde hair may notice their hair turning more of a brassy tone during the summer. While those that have natural or dyed brunette might see that their hair is turning red.
Blonde beauties may notice that after a swim their hair develops a green tint. This change in color is caused by copper molecules and other chemicals that are found in pools. These chemicals attach to the proteins on the hair shaft and result in a greenish tint.
So, how do we fix these problems? How do we protect our color treated hair from fading during the summer?
Keep reading to learn how to fix and/or completely avoid the distress that summer puts your hair through.
How to Avoid or Fix Common Summer Hair Problems
Prevent Your Hair Color from Fading
Start With a Healthy Base
The best way to keep your hair color from fading during the summer starts when getting your color. Having healthy hair is the best foundation for long-lasting color, even through all of the stress of summer.
We recommend getting your color done professionally for the summer. Make sure your colorist is either someone you trust or someone with great reviews. Having your color applied correctly and professionally will help your hair to be as healthy as possible.
Close the Cuticle
The next secret to keeping your color from fading is to keep the hair cuticle closed. By doing this you prevent the dye from bleeding out of your hair.
There are a few tricks to keep the cuticle closed. The first trick is to rinse your hair with cold water. Consider trying a cold-water rinse on days that you don’t wash your hair. This will still help to remove some sweat and debris without stripping your color.
A DIY rinse can also help to close the hair cuticle more effectively. This DIY mixture is made by combining a cap of apple cider vinegar with a gallon of water. You pour this mixture over your hair once a week.
Limiting the amount of heat that you use on your hair will also help the cuticle of your hair to stay closed. Using too many heat products in conjunction with a lot of sun exposure usually results in your hair overheating and the cuticle opening. This means that your color will fade faster.
Use heat protectants if you are going to use heat. Better yet, try out heatless styles. It is too hot to take out your straightener or curling iron anyway. We suggest a few different styles below.
Use the Right Products
It is important to use the right products when taking care of your hair.
When looking for a shampoo and conditioner, avoid products with sulfates as they will strip your hair. Sulfates are typically found in shampoos, but they can make their way into some formulas of conditioners as well.
These chemicals can come by many names such as sodium laureth sulfate or sodium lauryl sulfate. Essentially sulfates are detergents that strip your hair of its natural oils and your hair color. These ingredients can also cause your hair to become dry, weak, brittle, and frizzy.
By avoiding sulfate you are not only helping your color to last longer, but you are also avoiding some of the most common hair problems that occur during the summer season.
Try to stick to products that are gentle and moisturizing, such as cleansing creams. One of our favorites for color treated hair is from Renpure, which you can find here. This hydrating cleansing cream is free of sulfates and parabens. It cleanses and conditions your hair at the same time with a delicious rosemary mint scent.
The summer can cause color-treated hair to change in all sorts of ways.
Are you noticing your roots are fading faster than normal? Purchase a powder or spray to apply on your roots to cover the exposed color. Although this won’t hold up in the pool, it will work in a pinch. Try this one from Color Wow. These work best for those trying to cover up grays.
Blonde hair can become brassier from too many washes with the wrong products or too much time in the sun. Chlorine can also affect blonder hair and turn it green due to the chemicals in the water.
Dark hair also has very noticeable changes and fading, as it may become warmer. It is also normal for hair that is dyed dark to turn orangey as it fades.
To stop the stripping of your hair color, use a reparative color enhancing shampoo and conditioner.
For darker hair colors that are quickly fading and changing, try using demi hair color instead of permanent hair color. Although this color will wash out after a few weeks, you will be able to refresh it without causing more damage to your hair. This will keep your color looking vibrant and new.
Add Some Moisture
When summer hits, you may notice that your hair becomes drier and harder to manage. This is because all the summer activities that we love strip our hair of its natural protective oils. These oils are what help our hair to stay moisturized.
Using a deep conditioner or an oil treatment can help rehydrate your hair. There are plenty of hair masks and treatments out there, but some don’t actually penetrate your hair and therefore don’t fix the problem.
Our favorite hair mask to use during the summer is the It’s A 10 hair mask. This hair mask is an awesome weekly treatment to help restore and repair color-treated, heat damaged, and just plain dehydrated hair.
Want to increase the effectiveness of your weekly hair mask? Add heat to your regimen. Use a special heating bonnet or shower cap over your hair after it has been coated in the mask. The heat will help the mask work even better. This cap from Amazon can be heated in the microwave to help your at home hair treatments work better.
Don’t forget to moisturize your scalp either. Your scalp can become really dehydrated in the summer heat. Use aloe vera or your favorite hair oil to soothe your scalp if it has become dry and irritated. If you have a hairstyle that exposes your scalp, remember to apply sunscreen to those areas. You do not want to have burns around your beautiful cornrows.
Another way to keep your hair hydrated is to make sure that you are taking care of your hair in the shower as well. Along with other benefits, taking fewer showers will also cut down on the amount of hydration that is lost in your hair. Also, avoiding drying ingredients in your shampoos and conditioners will help your hair to stay hydrated.
As we mentioned above, sulfates strip your hair of color and your hair’s natural moisture.
Another ingredient you want to steer clear from are alcohols. Specific alcohols that have “prop” in the name, such as isopropyl alcohol. These will suck the moisture away from your hair.
On the other hand, cetearyl alcohol and stearyl alcohol can increase the amount of moisture that your hair can hold.
Polyethylene glycol, which is commonly listed as PEG on the ingredients list of hair products, has the potential to dry hair out as well. This is used in shampoos to thicken the products.
Mineral oil should also be avoided in your hair care routine, especially in the shampoos and conditioners that you use. Although it uses oil in its name, it will only prevent your hair’s natural oils from being absorbed by the hair shaft.
When you do wash your hair, be sure to add some moisture back to your tresses right away. Try using a leave-in conditioner or moisturizing oil while your hair is still wet to properly penetrate your hair. Applying oil before you go to bed is also helpful for those with extremely dry hair.
Try to avoid shampooing your hair before swimming at all costs. Cleansing your hair before hopping into the pool or the ocean will cause your hair to become more vulnerable to the chemicals or salt in the water.
Coat Your Hair
Coating your hair is a trick to help protect your hair from the salt in the ocean or the chlorine in the pool. To do this you would thoroughly wet your hair with regular water and then apply some form of conditioner before you go for a swim. Then throw it up in a bun and head out to the water.
If your hair is really damp, it will absorb less of the water you are swimming in. By covering your strands with conditioner, the chemicals in the water such as chlorine or salt will not absorb into your hair. You can use a leave-in conditioner or coconut oil as well to help repel the water.
So, what does less chlorine and salt water mean for your hair? Less dryness and frizz.
Dull Looking Hair
Hair, especially if it has been color treated, loses shine faster when it is in the sun. The natural oils are stripped away faster, leaving hair without its luster. This can cause hair to look lifeless and dull. There are a few options to help bring your hair back to life.
The easiest is to use a shine serum or oil to add back glossiness to your hair. Biosilk Silk Therapy Original Cure is our favorite to help hair appear beautiful and healthy.
For those with color treated hair, you can ask your stylist for an extra step. When you go to the salon, request a clear gloss. This is essentially a shiny seal over your hair that will eventually wash away but leaves your hair looking great while it is still on.
There are at home glazes that you can purchase as well. This one from John Frieda works for natural or color treated hair. It is meant to be used after you shampoo and condition your hair, leaving you with luminous locks.
Also, using the steps above to treat dry hair will help keep your mane from looking dull.
Oily / Greasy Hair
During the summer, having oily and greasy hair can seem like a curse. Summer means hot and humid weather, which also means sweat. We all know sweat does not play well with oil. Not for our skin and not for our hair.
When your scalp becomes sweaty, it transfers the naturally occurring sebum, or oil, throughout your hair. This is what can cause your hair to appear more oily and greasy than ever!
But never fear, this can be fixed. You may be tempted during this time to wash your hair more often to remove this oil but as we discussed above over washing can lead to way more problems.
This is the perfect time to use our handy-dandy friend dry shampoo. When used correctly it can absorb all of that excess oil, give your hair a refresh, and no one will even be able to guess you haven’t washed your hair in a few days.
Check out these two dry shampoos, Batiste Dry Shampoo and Amika Perk Up Dry Shampoo. One is more prestige and one is more of a bargain but both will provide you with the results that you are looking for, non-oily and fresh hair.
If you have dry hair and are worried about the white powder showing, most formulas rub into your hair now so you cannot see the dry shampoo. There are also special formulations for dark hair as well, to ensure that it blends in seamlessly to your hair.
To remove any buildup of oil, sweat, dirt, dust, and other debris, be sure that you are thoroughly cleaning your scalp. Using a special cleansing brush for your scalp will help you really get in there. This will allow you to clear out the pores on your scalp and give yourself a mini head massage. Here is one that would get the job done and it comes in adorable colors.
To ensure that your shampoo is not adding to the extra buildup, ensure that the ingredients list does not contain dimethicone. This form of silicone actually adds more build up on to your hair and scalp.
Although it does help your hair to appear more glossy, this temporary coating comes at a cost. Dimethicone can weigh hair down and can cause extra build up. This fake shine also blocks moisture from penetrating the hair shaft, which can lead to many other problems, such as hair becoming dry or frizzy.
When shampooing your hair, do not put too much of the product on to the strands of your hair. Focus the shampoo on your scalp and then work your way down. This will prevent you from drying out your hair while you remove the buildup on your hair.
The secret to combating frizzy hair is to lock out humidity. Humidity is the main cause of frizz and flyaways. Those that normally deal with hair that frizzes will suffer much more in the humidity, and don’t get us started on summer showers.
Using hair oils can help to block out humidity. There are a few that we like to fight the humid summer weather. Garnier Fructis Sleek and Shine Moroccan Sleek and Shine Oil works as a barrier to keep your hair looking smooth.
Keeping your hair hydrated will also help your hair from becoming frizzy. When your hair is dry it soaks up the extra humidity in the air and causes the hair shaft to swell. This swelling can cause the hair cuticle to break and hair to puff or frizz. So be sure to follow our tips for dry hair above, as well, to keep your hair hydrated and happy.
Try Heatless Styles
To keep your hair in its best condition it is always a good plan to limit the amount of heat that you use. Headbands and hair ties can become your new best friend.
Try out some of these heatless styles this summer.
Well, now you know all of our summer hair secrets. When trying to survive the summer, keeping your color treated hair looking beautiful does not have to be too difficult.
Taking these steps can keep your locks looking like a Disney princess.
You should be enjoying the longer days and not be worrying if your hair color looks like it is melting off of your head.
Whether it is dry hair, frizzy hair, color fading, or all of the above, you are now ready to face summer without fear. At least without fear of your hair looking bad, we can’t promise that you’ll have no fear of too many mosquito bites or sunburn – sorry!
Do you have any tried and true tips that get your hair through the hot summer months? Let us know in the comments below.