Look Good Coming Out Of The Ocean, Pool, Or Lake

Illustrated by Anna Sudit
The dog days of summer are upon us. They’re hot, sticky, and they beg for us to spend as much time submerged in water as possible — whether it's a cold shower, the salty sea, or a rushing river. The pure bliss of living in a swimsuit and going from soaking wet to sun-drenched and back again is what summer is all about. But salt, chlorine, and even a dip in fresh water are not always conducive to maintaining flawless hair.

We love beachy waves, but quite often it’s easier to get the look with a blowdryer and a bottle of texturizer than to let your locks dry out in the open. But who has time for that when there’s so much swimming to do? So we’ve put together an easy, yet all-encompassing guide to perfecting the art of air-drying for every different water situation you may enjoy this summer.

So dive on in, and don’t be afraid to get your hair wet.
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Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
The Shower
In the summer, air-drying doesn't need to be relegated to outdoor excursions. Getting ready for anything on a hot summer morning presents us with the struggle: "Do I have to blowdry?" Nope! In fact, a perfectly coiffed 'do is the antithesis of end-of-summer styling.

Adel Chabbi, a hairstylist and salon owner in New York City, says the key to ensuring your hair dries flawlessly is a good haircut. Be sure to tell your hairstylist that you want a cut that can easily air-dry. Bobs work particularly well, but no matter your length or texture he suggests a cut with just a few layers. “If there are layers, they should be clean with no texturizing because it can create frizz," he says. "This will be easier to manage.”

Once you have the cut, Chabbi suggests only using your fingers to detangle post-shower. “Combs should be avoided at all costs,” he warns. Then, apply a frizz-control crème made for air-drying like Hydro Hair (which is great for all hair types) just to the tips of the hair. This will serve as a leave-in moisturizer and help maintain any natural wave or texture as your strands dry.

Chabbi is an advocate for air-drying because, he says, it’s healthier for your hair overall. Not using heat will help keep its natural look for longer, and maintain your cut. “The heat inevitably will dry out the ends,” he says.
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Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
The Ocean
Brooklyn-based hairstylist Marcel Dagenais recommends enhancing the beach vibe in your hair after dipping in the ocean. "People pay good money to replicate the look of a day at the beach," he says. "So work with what you got."

He warns that like some salt sprays, the actual elements can dry out your hair and create frizz, so you'll want to add some moisture after you emerge from the waves (Bond-girl style). Dagenais recommends throwing Bumble and bumble Grooming Crème in your beach bag. A dollop in wet hair will give you a soft, yet matte finish and help control curls and flyaways. Plus, it’s great for all hair types.

Simply let your hair drip-dry, squeezing moisture out of the ends with your towel, without combing it or messing with it too much. Put a dime-size amount of the product in your palm, rub your hands together, and work it through the ends with your fingers. Then, gently scrunch with your palms. “Your fingers are really your best tool,” says Dagenais. He also warns against using combs or brushes when air-drying. If your hair is particularly fine or flat, you can also add some extra texture with a few spritzes of a more moisturizing salt or surf spray, like R+Co’s Rockaway Salt Spray.
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Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
The Pool
If you’re swimming in a chlorinated pool, and you can’t resist going all the way under (because who can?), the best thing to do is to rinse hair with fresh water before you get in the pool. “This will make it so your hair won’t absorb as much chlorine,” says Dagenais. “You don’t need to shampoo; just make sure it’s wet so the follicles fill with water.”

When it comes to getting out of the pool, Matrix celebrity stylist George Papanikolas says the key to getting a good air-dry is making sure you don't strip out natural oils. So rinsing your hair when you get out of the pool to get out the chlorine is majorly important, too. Papanikolas likes the Matrix Biolage Cleansing Conditioner for a post-swim wash. “It will gently cleanse without stripping oils and keep the curl/wave pattern intact [for] the best natural wave.”

If you aren't able to get to a shower, you don't have to use a rinse-out product. Chabbi suggests using bottled water to give your hair a quick rinse both before and after swimming, and then applying a hair oil like Josie Maran Argan Oil Hair Serum or Chabbi’s own Adel Atelier Argan Oil.

If you have time and ability, Dagenais also suggests using a cleansing conditioner. His choice is Purely Perfect’s Cleansing Crème — it’s like a two-in-one (but the good kind) that is super-moisturizing — making it great for colored hair. But most importantly, its combination of aloe vera and essential oils (including peppermint, sunflower, and evening primrose) will enhance your hair’s natural texture and won’t dry it out and cause poofiness or flyaways, like regular shampoo might. After you cleanse and rinse, he suggests adding a few touches of the product to the ends to make sure the moisture is locked in and give it a clean, soft base as it dries.

If you swim frequently, Dagenais says you should be using a conditioning treatment once a week. “Oribe has an amazing one, especially for color, called the Mask for Beautiful Color.” He also likes Oribe Conditioner for Moisture & Control.
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Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
The River
A river can contain minerals that are good for your hair, says Papanikolas. So if you’re tubing, rafting, or lazily sitting on a rock, don’t be afraid to refresh with an underwater dip. Since the water is your friend in this situation, Dagenais says the main thing to focus on is the sun not drying out your hair.

After swimming, apply any kind of moisturizing crème, like the Purely Perfect or Bumble and bumble ones, to give it a nice, soft texture when you air-dry. Chabbi also suggests bringing along a little hair SPF, like Phytoplage, a lightweight spray that will protect strands from damaging UV rays. You can spray this on dry or damp hair before and during any sun exposure — and reapply it after swimming. If you want to bring that beachy effect to the river, then spritz in a little salt or surf spray as well.

Dagenais suggests loosely braiding hair, or tucking it behind your ears, to create a little bend and to keep it out of your face while it dries, and then undoing it for the perfect river waves. “Don’t do a ponytail,” he warns, “because that will create a weird bend in the hair at the back of your head.”
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Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
The Lake
It depends on the surrounding landscape, but lakes often have higher levels of pollution than rivers. Whereas rivers have a current, and flow into other bodies of water, lakes are landlocked, and thus draining any contaminants is harder. What this means for your hair is elements can leave behind residue, which can make it dirtier and even affect its color. While this is not meant to deter you from cannonballing from the tree tops, there are a few precautions to consider.

All our expert stylists agree that after a lake or pond swim, you should make sure to rinse hair thoroughly with some kind of fresh water (bottled or shower). After rinsing, you can mimic steps after a river or ocean.

If you have naturally curly or wavy hair, accentuate that look by adding a little moisturizing cream to the ends and gently scrunching or twisting strands around your fingers to create little ringlets. Once it’s dry, you can tousle it a bit for a more casual, not-trying-too-hard look. If you have frizzy hair, especially if it’s really thick, Dagenais says you’ll need a heavy moisturizing cream, like Oribe Super Shine, to smooth it out. For finer hair, he suggests bringing along the Purely Perfect Finishing Crème for an after-swim cleansing.