The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Sunscreen
Wearing sunscreen every day is a must—so you may as well choose the very best one for your skin needs.
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You probably know that protecting your skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays and other environmental factors is a must, but did you know that your hair needs careful attention, too? This is especially true during the summer. After all, your strands soak up a lot of things in the warmer months—from sunlight to salty ocean water to chlorine.
All of these things have the potential to ruin your locks. “Many of us spend a lot of time and money on coloring or other treatments—so you want to protect your hair to keep it looking its best,” says Dyana Nematalla, stylist and owner of Sirène and Tinte Color and Blow Dry Bar in Atlanta, Georgia. Consider this your guide to keeping your strands in the best possible shape all summer long.
Just like the sun can burn your skin, it can fry your hair—and make it much more fragile in the process. Color-treated hair is especially susceptible, as it tends to be drier in the first place thanks to the dying process. Not only that, the sun can even change the color or your tresses. People with darker hair colors might experience fading, while blondes and redheads often notice brassy tones.
One of the best ways to defend your hair and scalp from the sun, especially if you’ll be outside for a long period of time, is with a physical barrier like a hat or a chic scarf tied around your head.
Of course, wearing a hat or scarf all summer long isn’t exactly realistic, so you may want to consider products that can create a shield of sorts over your strands, and contain SPF to protect the sensitive skin on your scalp and helps absorb any sweat.
While we’re talking about hair care in the sun, consider using the natural warmth to your advantage. “When I know I’m going out in the sun I use it as a treatment time for my hair,” Nematalla says. She favors mixing up a concoction of water and leave-in conditioner in a small spray bottle and reapplying all day. You might just leave the sun with better looking hair than when the day started.
Once you’ve leveled up your hair sunscreen game, it’s time to think about shielding your strands from whatever water you may encounter. “The sun, pool [chlorine] and saltwater tends to oxidize hair color faster and make it look brassy and dry if you neglect it,” Nematalla says. This goes for “sea salt sprays” too. While they’re popular for achieving that beachy wave effect, she notes that even that type of saltwater can be a significant factor in dehydrated summer strands.
Whether you’re warding off the impact of chemical water additives or natural salt from the sea, the strategy is the same: saturate your hair with clean, fresh water before you dive into the pool or the ocean. Nematalla takes it one step further, recommending the addition of a hydrating oil. “This will also preserve your hair if you have had a keratin treatment done, as salt water strips some of that away,” she says.
Finally, make sure to give your hair a thorough rinse after time in the ocean or a pool (chlorinated or salt water) to get rid of any lingering residue.
If you’re diligent about protecting your locks while you’re out and about, you shouldn’t need to do any deep conditioning or repair treatments after your time in the sun, Nematalla says. However, even tap water contains small amounts of hair- and skin-drying chlorine. To combat this lesser-known threat, she recommends investing in a shower filter infused with Vitamin C to neutralize chlorine and remove other harsh contaminant residues. “It’s the best thing I have purchased for both my hair and skin. It smells like you’re showering in a spa,” she says.
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