Between sun, saltwater, and chlorine – our hair withstands a lot of damage in the summertime. While most of us diligently load up on the SPF for skin before stepping outside – you need to protect your hair from summer stressors as well! If you’re noticing your hair is more dry than usual and breaking easier – it could be due to this damage. Luckily, coconut oil is an easy, affordable multitasker that helps treat and protect hair from sun and swimmers’ hair.
In this blog, we’ll break down exactly what you need to know about the effects of sun, chlorine and saltwater on hair and how to protect and treat your hair this summer with coconut oil!
Summer Stressors That Damage Your Hair
The Importance of Sun Protection for Hair
When was the last time you protected your hair from the sun? When you hear the words ‘sun protection’ or ‘SPF’ your first thought is your skin but the reality is, your hair can suffer from just as much sun damage. While the damage may not be as obvious as a painful sun burn, prolonged exposure to the sun’s rays without the proper protection causes hair to break, bleach, dry out, and even age. This is because prolonged exposure to the sun’s UVA and UVB rays can damage the outside cover of the hair strand, called the cuticle. Without protecting your hair and scalp from the sun, your hair goes from shiny and luscious to dull and brittle.
If you just hit the hair salon this summer, color-treated hair is the most at-risk in the sun for unwanted color changes and extremely brittle texture. The color oxidizes from the UV exposure, creating a faded (or even patchy!) color.
And yes, your hair ages! Aging hair is a lot like aging skin (minus the wrinkles) and the sun makes both happen all that much faster. Aged hair is thinner, duller, flatter, and drier. When you know you’re going to be in the sun (even on overcast days!) read our tips below to prevent any further aging and damage – and you can always throw on a sun hat for added protection!
The Effect of Chlorine on Your Hair
One of the most common chemicals that your hair comes in contact with is hair dye or keratin treatments. Surpisingly, Chlorine is one of the harshest chemicals your hair encounters. It’s damaging even the healthiest hair!
Human hair is comprised of protein, mostly keratin. It’s coated and infused with an oil known as sebum, which also covers the rest of your entire body (hello, natural oil!). Sebum is a natural secretion that helps the body and the hair retain moisture, and which also contains the anti-aging antioxidant vitamin E. It’s an essential part of your hair and skin, and keeps your features vibrant and strong for a long time. This is why products that naturally contain Vitamin E, like coconut oil, are so effective in skincare.
When hair comes in contact with chlorinated water, the chlorine will actually create a bond with this sebum in your hair and pull it out by chemical bond. This will leave your hair looking less shiny and less strong, and looking drier than usual during the day. If this continues, your hair will begin to split at the ends.
Sebum is not the only thing that chlorine affects. Chlorine can alter the makeup of your very hair itself. When it encounters the keratin protein in your hair, it chemically bonds with some of the parts of the protein molecules and makes these parts water-soluble, causing the proteins in your hair to physically weaken and become thinner.
Similar to sun exposure, if you’ve ever dyed your hair – you’re at increased risk of chlorine hair damage. Chlorine reacts with the melanin in your hair that gives it color, from blonde to jet black. When this melanin is bonded to chlorine, the keratin protein is left behind in its natural dull blonde color. This is accelerated when hair is already not its natural color; dyed hair has chemical treatments in it that the chlorine will bond to even easier. If your dyed hair was bleached at one point to achieve its current color, the artificial color will leave even faster in the presence of chlorine.
Luckily, if you give your hair a little love before and after your bout with the water, then you won’t have to worry about chlorine doing any permanent damage to your locks! You can learn how in the section below!
Saltwater: The Good & Bad For Your Hair
Have you ever taken a dip in the ocean and fully submerged your hair, only to notice it’s not exactly easy to comb out your hair later on that day? Although, saltwater can affect hair types differently – unfortunately, that’s not always the case when you’re overexposed to saltwater!
The keyword here is “overexposed.” Moderate exposure to saltwater can have many beneficial effects on the skin and hair. As long as you’re careful to take measures to help safeguard your skin and hair before and after taking a trip to the beach, you can reap salt water’s natural benefits and may even avoid the drawbacks of overexposure. Many people swear by the beneficial effects of saltwater on skin and hair, especially the scalp. Considering all the vitamins and minerals it contains – many vitamins, amino acids and minerals, including magnesium, potassium and sulfur – saltwater has the potential to provide nourishment to the scalp and hair by simply spending time in the ocean. But just as saltwater can have a drying effect on the skin, this is doubly true for the hair when it is overexposed.
The strands of your hair can become dehydrated and parched if too much moisture is lost through evaporation – a.k.a. saltwater sitting in your hair all day and drawing the moisture out, leaving it tangled, frizzy, dull and extremely hard to manage. It also causes it to be more susceptible to split ends and dandruff on your scalp. These effects are even worse if your hair has been dyed or processed recently, similar to chlorine effects.
How to Protect & Treat Your Hair This Summer
With a few simple preventative measures, taking a swim or spending the day in the sun doesn’t have to leave your hair dry, brittle, in knots and completely unmanageable. Try these tips before and after heading out to keep your locks lustrous and healthy:
Before Sun & Swimming:
- Rub a small amount of coconut oil in your hair. The good saturated fats of the oil will not only lock in the moisture of your hair, but also create a shield against all external aggressions: sun, wind, and even salted water thanks to the hydrophobic property of oil!
- If you’re swimming – one of the first and most simple things that you can do to your hair is making sure that you wet your hair before you go swimming. While this may seem like a small and unnecessary step, it’s one of the most vital ways that you can be sure that the chlorine doesn’t seep into your hair strands. Chlorine tends to soak easily into your hair when it’s dry and it’s the first thing that your hair has contact with. Imagine your hair being like a sponge. You want only good things to go into that sponge, so when the bad things go in, you’ll be less likely to have any adverse effects. After wetting it, follow up with rubbing a small amount of coconut oil for an extra layer of protection.
After Sun & Swimming:
- Use a coconut oil hair mask. All you need to do is grab Conscious Coconut Oil and apply it all over damp hair. You can part your hair into even sections so it’s easier to apply. Apply more coconut oil to the driest sections of your hair (most likely the ends). Once you’ve coated your hair, put your hair into a bun or wrap it in a hair towel. Let sit for 2-3 hours or overnight for a deeper conditioning. Then rinse out and shampoo like normal! The Conscious Coconut Hair Mask Kit has everything you need!
Taking precautions to help protect yourself both before and after exposure can help keep your hair as healthy as possible, so you can focus on what matters most – sun, swimming, and relaxation. Additionally, it is important that you provide nourishment for your hair, not only during the summer but all year long! Check out our Hair Care Collection to keep your hair healthy and strong year-round.
From Conscious Coconut’s Blog