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Summer Beating Up Your Hair? Follow These Expert Tips

July 31, 2014

Great Summer hair (Photo: Thinkstock) 

I just got back from a week at the beach to restore my mind and body: endless dips in the salty ocean, laps in the pool, snorkeling for hours on end. Ahhhh. But my blissful state was upended when I went to see my hair stylist. “So, let me see the damage,” she said. My carefully highlighted hair had lost its lustre — the blonde was brassy, the ends fried.

Note to stylist: I did hear you last time, when you warned me about chlorine after I spent a mere 30 minutes in the pool at that Orlando resort. Understandably, it was highly chlorinated to deal with dozens of children swimming around.

This time, my stylist cried out, “Oh my God! What happened?” I feebly explained I’d been down the waterslide just once or twice. I guess my hair got damp when I rocketed into the water at the bottom of the slide. Who knew that even a tiny bit of chlorine could wreak havoc?

Given that summer still has a little left in it, we have gathered tips from the top New York stylists and colorists on how to save your color and keep your hair healthy — whether you are swimming in the ocean in Costa Rica or doing laps at your hotel pool in Chicago.

Hair Stylist Eva Scrivo
Hair Stylist Eva Scrivo

Stylist Eva Scrivo (Photo: Eva Scrivo)

Eva Scrivo

Who: The Manhattan stylist who is famous for her perfect blondes

Hair advice: “Oil and water don’t mix, so using natural oils on the hair and scalp, before you swim in salt or chlorinated water is a great barrier on the hair to prevent damage,” says Scrivo. Products to use include Amla oil (sourced from the Indian gooseberry), Neem (also Indian, from an evergreen tree), and sesame oil, the base of many Ayurvedic hair remedies.

And it may not be sexy, but swimming with a cap also makes a huge difference. Scrivo loves Speedo for long hair, since it has a tight fit around the head and extra room — so you can pile your hair on top and keep it relatively dry. 


When in doubt, grab a great swim cap! (Photo: Thinkstock) 

Allison Gandolfo

Who: The high-end colorist at John Barrett Salon in Bergdorf Goodman

Hair advice: When your blonde loses its salon sheen after being in the sun too long, use She Uemura Art of Hair Color Lustre Cool Blonde. It not only nourishes the hair, but it helps to reduce unwanted yellow and brassy tones. 

To protect against UVA/UBA light, physical barriers are your best bets. Look for hats — no small holes! — that fit snugly, so they don’t fly off your head at the beach, as well as scarves to wear over your hair.


Protect your hair from the elements with a great hat (Photo: Thinkstock)

Kyle White

Who: Lead hair colorist at Oscar Blandi, who counts Mariah Carey and Julianna Margulies among his clients

Hair advice: White says sun exposure is the equivalent of bleach and fades color: “You need to use a sunblock every time you wash, even in winter if your hair is going to be in direct sunlight.” 

Salt water and chlorine will not only fry your hair, but it will turn your blonde locks into orange straw. White advises using an oil with SPF, like Phytoplage, that will fill the cuticle of your hair so it won’t absorb chlorinated water. Rinse your hair with fresh water when you get out, then reapply the oil and put back on your hat.


Rinse hair with fresh water after hitting the pool (Photo: Thinkstock) 

If you get chlorine on your hair, an easy at-home solution is to use an apple-cider vinegar rinse that will remove chlorine deposits, take out highlight-dulling product build-up, remove dead skin cells, and unclog hair follicles.

Just as your black or bright colored clothes fade in the hot clothes dryer, heat styling fades your hair color. So if you are using heat styling tools, be sure to use a thermal protector like “Its a 10,” which is also a leave-in treatment with protein and vitamins.  

After sun exposure, frequent shampooing is the second biggest fader of hair color — so cut back and use a dry shampoo (Oscar Blandi has one called Pronto). “Your scalp’s natural oils are Mother Nature’s deep conditioner,” he says.

Hair stylist Oscar Blandi
Hair stylist Oscar Blandi

Top stylist Oscar Blandi (Photo: Oscar Blandi)

Oscar Blandi

Who: A top Manhattan stylist

Hair advice: Get a trim before you go on vacation. “Playing on the beach, in the chlorine water — the ends can become dry and brittle,” he says, especially if you are going out and using hot, damaging tools like hair dryers, straighteners, or curling irons. 

Alonso Salguero

Who: Owner of Salon Ziba in Manhattan

Hair advice: Products can make all the difference. A deep-conditioning treatment like Kerastase Elixir Ultime cream, and another product, Aqua-seal by Kerastase covers the hair cuticle and keeps moisture in.

The simplest and easiest advice is saturating hair with water before leaping into chlorinated or salt water because hair can only absorb so much water — says Salguero — and getting it wet prior to swimming keeps some of the chemicals out. 

You can also apply a glaze like the Christine Hair Glaze from Van Thomas Concepts. This protective layer helps minimize the damage and gives your hair an extra bit of defense against the elements. 

VTC hair glaze
VTC hair glaze

A glaze can help keep damage to a minimum. (Photo: VTC)

Australian-born, New York-based Julie Earle-Levine is a lifestyle and travel writer and editor for publications, including The New York Times, FT Weekend, and the New York Post.

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