Photographed by Christelle De Castro.
Every summer, it's the same thing: My hair colour gets ravaged by sun, wind, salt water, chlorine — the list is endless — and I'm tasked with getting it good as new again. Imagine what would happen if you dunked your favorite pair of Alaïas in salt water and chlorine, and then laid them out in the sun.
Well, that's (sort of) what you're doing to your £100 highlights. Most women don't really know — or believe — that these things can wreak havoc. While training to be a colourist, a chemist once told me that 50 hours of sun exposure was the equivalent of 30 minutes of bleach! Whether it's lemon juice, sun exposure, or peroxide, it's all the same chemical process on the hair. But, destroying your hair every summer doesn't have to be inevitable. Your hair colour and texture can look as stunning as the day you walked out of the salon, but you're going to have to put some work into it. And, just shampooing, conditioning, and running out the door won't cut it.
Photographed by Mark Iantosca.
1. Sulfates are the detergents in most shampoos that cleanse away dirt, oil, and other impurities from your hair. Unfortunately, they also wash away colour molecules and fade highlights. After sun exposure, frequent shampooing is the second biggest fader of hair colour, so be sure to use a shampoo and conditioner formulated for colour-treated hair: They'll contain low amounts of sulfates while boasting some super-moisturizing elements. And, try to go two to three days without shampooing. Instead, sub in a dry shampoo. After all, your scalp's natural oils are Mother Nature's deep conditioner: It'll save your colour, your blow-dry, and the health of your hair.
2. While it sounds a bit crazy, you should use a sunblock for your hair every time you wash it — especially if you're going to be in direct sunlight and can't cover your head with a scarf or a hat.
3. Heat styling fades your hair colour in exactly the same way that your black or bright-coloured clothes fade in the dryer. If you use heat styling tools on the regular, use a thermal protector, leave-in's are ideal, and, as a general rule, stay away from metal brushes. The bristles conduct the heat from your blow dryer and practically become an iron. Sure, your hair dries in a flash, but you're sacrificing the brightness of your hair colour while risking tons of breakage. Always use a natural bristle brush that polishes the hair, not snaps it. The barrel of the brush can be wooden, ceramic like this one from TRESemme, or even plastic — but never metal.
Photographed by Amelia Alpaugh.
4. Salt water and chlorine will not only fry your hair: They'll turn blonde locks into orange straw. And, while the cuticle of a healthy strand of hair is smooth, cuticles from damaged hair have holes where colour molecules can slip out. To keep your hair from absorbing the chlorine from a pool into these holes, layer your hair with an oil or cream that contains an SPF like this CC Cream from Kerastase. If you do get chlorine deposits on your hair, you can remove them with a clarifying shampoo like Shu Uemura's Cleansing Shampoo. For an easy, at-home solution, try an apple cider vinegar rinse, which won't just rinse out any chlorine deposits, but will also remove highlight-dulling product build up, remove dead skin cells, and unclog hair follicles. Always follow any clarifying treatment with a deep conditioner such as Kerastase's UV Masque to replace any lost moisture. I love heating up coconut oil in the microwave for 15 seconds & sleeping with a mask in my hair. Just be sure to wrap your tresses in a scarf so the oil doesn't seep into your pillow cases.
5. Impurities in the water we shower with can change our hair colour — sometimes drastically, especially for those who are very blonde. If you have hard water (all of London) and have the time and effort you could look into installing a filtering system.
6. Just like everything else, healthy hair starts from the inside out. Make sure you're eating a balanced diet full of vitamins and nutrients! Make sure you check with a doctor before adding any supplements into your diet.