Summer Hair: How To Keep Hair Healthy at the Beach and Pool
Sweet summer – who doesn’t love shedding a few layers and spending some carefree time outside? How your hair handles it… that’s another story. Between chlorine, salt and sun - chances are you already feel a texture change. When your hair begins to feel like hay, it’s not your imagination! The good news is, you can avoid or recover from damage by following some simple practices.
Chlorine, Salt & Sun: How to Keep Your Hair from Turning Into Green Straw"
Chlorine is added to water in swimming pools and spas in order to reduce the growth of germs. In that kind of environment, you definitely want it – chlorine keeps bacteria levels from becoming dangerous. But as you may already know, you have a vast colony of microbes that live on your skin as part of your dermal biome. And as science is discovering, you need a balance of good bacteria on your body to keep your body healthy and thriving.
The harsh, rough feeling your hair gets after a swim is thanks to real chemical reactions happening in your hair. Think back to high school chemistry: First of all, the “chlorine” added to swimming pool water is really sodium hypochlorite, the active ingredient in bleach. It tears apart proteins and other molecules, which is why it is used as both a disinfectant and a stain remover. We would never use bleach on wool or delicate fabrics because of the damage it causes. Well, your hair suffers the same damage.
Moisture: For starters, chlorine dissolves the natural oils from your hair and scalp, resulting in a loss of moisture, shine and flexibility and making them susceptible to frizz and breakage.
Pigment: “Chlorine’s” active chemical reacts with the pigments of your hair (natural and dyed hair) and turns them the color of keratin (the straw-colored protein that your hair is made of). It also changes the electrical charge of the minerals present in the water. These minerals like to bond to your hair anyway, but the presence of chlorine oxidizes them. Short story? If there’s copper in the water, your hair can turn green – like an old penny.
Structure: Chlorine also reacts with keratin directly by destroying the bonds between the fibers that form the hair shaft and tears apart the cuticle on the surface of the hair shaft. Once these bonds are broken, your hair feels rough to touch, and breaks and splits occur surprisingly easily.
Salt Water: Your Hair doesn’t Love Beachy Waves As Much As You Do
Salt water is a great texturizer – who doesn’t love the volume and wave you only get at the beach? But like chlorine, salt water has an impact: it’s incredibly dehydrating. Ever feel super thirsty after a salty meal? That’s how your hair feels after too much ocean water. Salt water draws moisture from your hair and even more so when it has been damaged by sunlight and chlorine, leaving your hair dry and prone to snarls and breakage.
Over-Exposed: Sun Exposure and UV Rays
Subtle sun-kissed highlights look beautiful. Go too far though and hair can wind up dry and brassy. What’s really happening? UV rays penetrate the hair shaft which contains melanin (natural pigment. Melanin is your body’s natural sunscreen. It absorbs the UV rays and “takes the hit” rather than letting them damage the keratin fibers. Excessive sun exposure eventually destroys the melanin and your natural sun protection gradually disappears. What do you see? Bleached out hair that’s stiff, brittle and breakable.
How can you protect it?
- Give your hair the best chance it has to shield itself from damage by spritzing on a protective layer, like illumai’s Protect spray - prior to exposure. Use on dry hair and use enough till hair feels damp, comb through and let dry. Repeat throughout the day, then follow with full essential system wash at end of day, (with a long corrective Nurture treatment)
- Maintain your biome - stay away from sulfates and similar detergents, they remove your natural oils and damage and expose your hair shaft
- Wear a hat that does not let sunlight penetrate
- Wear a swim cap to truly minimize exposure
- End the season with a restorative hair detox to reset your biome and a fresh trim to remove frayed ends
Learn More . . .
When your biome is balanced, common hair symptoms disappear. You’ll need to wash less often. Your hair will feel stronger, look shinier and feel real. Detox your locks monthly or every wash. Illumai is safe for daily use and the biome-balancing results get better each and every time.
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Frizz occurs when the outer layer of your hair (the cuticle) is lifted instead of smoothed down. This lift separates the cuticle and allows moisture to move freely through your hair shaft. As the strands take in moisture, they swell and warp ...
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