I rarely find an occasion to style, cut or color my hair after the holidays. The dull, dark and uneventful months of a lingering winter and fickle spring are a perfect time to delay chemical processes and maintenance cuts. Spring is the natural time to leave your tresses alone if you want to grow some length.
Forever grateful to my loyal clientele, I am humbled when asked for hair advice. I look at my reflection more hours than you could even imagine. The sassy 18 year old stylist that set out to perm, highlight and blow dry the masses in 1988 is no longer staring back at me. This decade, I am rocking a man bun with grey roots and an accidental ombré. It works.
Fortunately, no one has yet asked me to recreate my style as their own, but several questions find their way into “behind the chair conversations”. These do’s, don’ts and myths of hair care are just the ticket to guide you through summer’s coiffure crisis.
Stop the hair damage
DON’T forget the sunscreen. While you may not want to invest in an expensive bottle of sunscreen just for the hair, many leave in conditioners already have UV protection. DO wear hats and scarves! These are even better for preventing over exposure to your hair, dryness and tangles caused by wind. Your coolness factor raises 2-3 points at the pool with a classic straw hat and sunglasses.
MYTH – All shampoos are created equal. If your friend has long, thick wavy hair and swears her shampoo is the best ever, be cautious before committing to a bottle of it, if your hair is short, fine and straight. In this age of information, you can read hundreds of online reviews and find one or several that is suitable for your hair type. A dedicated hairdresser is a reliable source for professional hair product. DON’T cave to the pressure of “product pushing”. Your hair does not need a cabinet full of smelly sprays and heavy oils to look great.
DON’T forget to hydrate! Hair will primarily thrive when you are feeding your body the nutrients it needs. Since hair is the result of the excess protein in our body, it is dependent on a balanced diet to look shiny and healthy. DO use leave-in conditioners, hot oil treatments and sprays for additional moisture on dry hair. Medications, fad diets, and illness can cause as much damage to your hair as bad color products and excessive heat from styling tools. The added heat from the sun mixed with the hair dryer and flat iron will only increase your chances of frizzy, lifeless locks. Coating the hair with a waxy conditioner is also one way to prevent chlorine buildup in your hair.
The Hair (y) Green Monster
DO rinse your hair immediately after swimming in chlorinated water. Chlorine leaves hair and skin dry. Repeat exposure and buildup will cause lifeless and brittle hair. Professional and over the counter products are readily available but I prefer and at home remedies to help with this nasty chemical. My favorite is a combination of shampoo (not my expensive color formula) and baking soda. Mixing it 1:1 makes a nice paste that can be massaged through most of the hair. It is not necessary to scrub your scalp when doing this treatment. Blonde hair may have a slight to awful green cast with the chlorine. I have seen wonderful results using Ketchup or tomato paste to neutralize the color. The vinegar in the Ketchup will also help with removing some of the buildup.
If your hair has seen 12 weeks of sun and chlorine then DO get a decent haircut at the end of summer. This will help with the matted, dry, cotton appearance and slimy residue left from chlorine. MYTH – Trim your hair often if you want it to grow faster. Growth is from the scalp, so anything you do to the ends will not create length. It doesn’t matter if you cut 2 inches versus .25 inches. Many of us have experienced the “hairdresser’s inch” and been shocked or disappointed with “just a trim”. On an average, your locks have grown 1.5 inches. This is a reasonable amount to cut, and feels great when you style it, without committing to a major change.
Find Me At the Pool
I am not a swimsuit model with long flowing beach waves. I do not have a vintage Panama Fedora that was a rare find from an exotic vacation. The sweat dripping from underneath my 1990’s baseball cape hides my unruly curls that poke out over my ears and eyes. My uneven tan lines are the result of only applying on the kids sunscreen. Cool sunglasses? Not for these old eyes, prescription only. I have yet to “selfie” our swim days on Instagram, but at 47, I have plenty of years walking around half naked at a pool with crazy, healthy hair. #goals
What are you tips for summer hair care? I would love to hear what natives of the Midwest use for humidity. Even some of my best products are no match for these wet, non rainy days!