I love beach breaks, for me, just thinking about them is like a form of escape therapy. Being able to read books cover to cover, to have an excuse lie down for hours on end, being able to cool off my sun drunk skin in the refreshing lap of the sea. Salty air and summer breezes… there is nothing better. Did I mention cocktails watching the sun set? Like I say, I love beach vacations.
My hair, my hair really does not. It has a problem with the sun, especially after being cased in salt water and left to dry to a crisp in the heat. It’s not that I don’t look after my hair when I’m on vacation, it’s just that the most important thing is that I’m relaxing. Not stressing about my hair routine.
This means my hair feels less like hair and more like seaweed. To find out how to keep hair more human after a day at the beach I spoke to Dr. Thomy Kouremada-Zioga from The Private Clinic of Harley Street. She knows all about hair (and hair transplants too – but that’s another story). She told me a few things that every girl (and guy) needs to know about post beach hair care.
The sun can be particularly damaging for the hair because heat can make the hair dry, brittle and weak. The heat also causes us to sweat and when a build-up of sweat occurs, this can block the pores on our scalp which leads to less healthy hair. Disgusting and depressing in equal measure, right?
And while the sun might not burn our hair in the same way it can harm our skin, ultraviolet radiation is responsible for that ‘sunkissed’ look where your hair lightens a few shades, as pretty as it is, in fact, that’s evidence of sun damage.
Seawater doesn’t help, because of its high salt content, it sucks moisture out of your hair, leaving the cuticle of your hair dehydrated, rough and brittle. (I’m kinda thirsty for a Pina Colada now).
Wash it off
His first tip to revive your hair after a day at the beach is simple. She says,“If you’ve spent a day at the beach and your hair has come into contact with sea water and sand, it’s important to wash it at the end of the day. If you go to sleep with dirty hair, over time this can clog the pores and prevent the hair from growing in the way it normally would.” And there’s no way we want our hair to stop growing!
After the pool
If your beach holiday sees you using the chlorinated pool instead of getting back to nature in the sea, then you need to be extra careful because chlorine can have a significant impact on your hair.
Dr. Kouremada-Zioga says, “If your hair is exposed to chlorinated water over long periods, it can cause the hair follicles to weaken and the hair to become brittle.”
He suggests wearing a swimming cap to protect your hair from chlorine, but as if already. No one wants to look like Patrick Stewart on vacation, (sorry Patrick) so instead make sure you rinse your hair thoroughly and wash with gentle products.
Curb the heat
She adds, “When it comes to washing your hair on holiday, use lukewarm water, rather than very hot water. This will prevent the build-up of further sweat and it will reduce the level of trauma that the hair endures due to heat.”
For your vacation beauty bag try to use a mild, natural shampoo. This will help to ensure that the PH of the scalp remains neutral. I can personally recommend Bumble & Bumble’s Gentle Shampoo $25.00.
Accessorize your beach look with things like cover ups and hats – I welcome all these extras. Especially as hats can help keep your hair protected.
Dr. Kouremada-Zioga says, “If you’re exposed to the sun for long periods, try to remember to wear a hat, as well as wearing sunscreen on your ears and neck. Remember the sun is at its strongest between 11am-3pm so, where possible wear a hat during these hours.”
We heard you, Ms Sensible!
Hair is going to be extra thirsty after time spent at the beach, so treat it to a hair mask like Advanced Haircare Total Repair Damage Erasing Balm from L’Oreal Paris ($6.99).
It’s perfect for sun-parched, salt-frazzled tresses and can honestly transform hair that feels like hay into a silky smooth mane that is ready to face a hot tool or two.
Don’t forget your SPF
I know I’m not your mother but I am passionate about beauty and sometimes that means doing the right thing, like reminding you about your sun block.
While you can’t put sunblock on your hair you can use it on your skin to prevent keratosis, which is, as Dr. Kouremada-Zioga says, “the most common condition resulting from skin damaged by the sun over many years.”
It basically looks like tough, scaly patches on your face and scalp and while oftentimes it’s harmless, in some cases keratosis may turn into skin cancer, so apply your high factor sunblock every few hours, hide your hair under a stylish hat like this Bow Fedora one from Nasty Gal ($24.00) and then, lie back, close your eyes and switch off.
Read more of MBS’s Summer column over here.