Hair Care

7 Steps to Restore Radiance to Sun-Damaged Hair

+ Rebecca

With summer fading in the rear view mirror, you may notice something else fading-your hair.

Is it looking dull, dry, frizzy, or lifeless? That could be the result of your fun summer.

UV radiation can be just as hard on hair as it is on skin. Plus summer brings more frequent washings that strip hair of its natural oils. The chlorine in swimming pools does more of the same, and salt water can be murder.

With fall on its way, it’s time to give your hair some serious attention. We have ten tips below for repairing summer damage and restoring hair’s youthful radiance. Within a few weeks, you won’t be able to believe the difference!

1. Check your shampoo.

As I always say, check your products first! You may have already swapped out your skin care products that contained harsh sulfates, petrolatum products, and sensitizing fragrances for safer alternatives with gentle cleansers and moisturizing oils, but have you done the same with your hair-care products?

Used to be you couldn’t find a shampoo without sulfates, but that’s changing now. With rising consumer demand, more and more health-conscious companies are putting out smarter shampoos that clean without stripping. This is a must for your hair-care routine.

You really don’t need all those bubbles to get your hair clean. Try products from companies that are careful with their ingredients, and that contain things like aloe, oat, essential oils, avocado, wheat protein, fruit extracts, and the like.

2. Give your hair a break.

If you have to go out every day, it can be tough to go without washing your hair, but this is an important step if you want your hair to recover. Try, at least once a week, to go without washing it. Even when you use gentler products, washing your hair strips it of the natural oils that it needs to stay hydrated. Choose a weekend day if you need to, and just plop on a hat or put your hair in a ponytail. Skipping the hairdryer can also save your hair a lot of damage.

3. Go easy on the products.

It’s tempting when the hair is misbehaving to use more styling products, but be aware that this can cause more problems down the road. More gels, mousses, creams, and the like can actually leave your hair looking and feeling worse.

Instead, take a few weeks to concentrate strictly on your shampoo, conditioner, and repairing serums and creams. Style as usual, but don’t pile on the extra products to give your hair the time it needs to heal.

4. Keep it up with your rinse-out conditioner.

You want to keep using this product, but be sure to rinse it completely out, so that your hair is ready for a leave-in product-a necessity for repairing damage. Check your conditioner, though, to be sure you’re using something that’s really going to help your hair, not just coat it.

Many conditioners these days are mostly made up of silicones, which coat the hair and make it “look” smoother, but don’t really do anything to help the hair become smoother. Silicones won’t harm your hair, and they can be protective to a point, but you need something that will actually help your hair become healthier.

Look instead for products with real moisturizing ingredients, like honey, botanical extracts, amino acids, proteins, natural oils, and vitamins. Abe’s Market is a great place to shop for natural and organic products-just be sure to always read through the ingredient list.

5. Add a leave-in conditioner.

If you’re not already using a leave-in conditioner, now is the time to pick one up. This is the extra step you need to help your hair start recovering from all the summer activities. If you find one with natural ingredients, these will help revive the scalp, as well, contributing to new hair growth that looks shiny and full.

Do consider your hair type, though, when searching for the right product for you. Fine hair that leans to the oily side will need a super light formula, while thicker hair will benefit from a thicker cream-based conditioner. And again, try to avoid silicones.

Once your hair recovers, you may no longer need both the rinse-out and leave-in conditioners. Let your hair guide you toward what it needs.

6. Start masking.

You know how you apply masks to your face to draw out impurities, hydrate, and restore? You need to do the same for your hair. At least a couple times a week-until your hair starts to recover-you need to let it sit in a mask for 10-30 minutes.

The nice thing here is that you can use natural ingredients to make your own mask at home. The key word is “nourishing.” You want ingredients that will infuse your hair with vitamins, minerals, and moisturizers that can sink deep into the hair shaft.

There are a lot of recipes online that you can choose from. The best ones include things like coconut oil (you can use it directly on hair), avocados (mashed), egg yolks, yogurt, honey, olive oil, and your favorite essential oils. Don’t worry about how you mix them-you can’t really make a mistake. Wash your hair first, and then let your hair soak up the nutrients while you sit back and relax.

7. Protect.

Did you know that you can now get hair sprays that protect from damaging UV rays? This is a great way to prevent further damage to your hair while you’re trying to help it recover. Look for sprays that have sunscreens and also moisturizing oils so they don’t over dry hair.

Many organic brands sell these sprays. They’re usually labeled with an SPF, and you can get them with nourishing coconut oil, aloe, natural extracts, and other natural ingredients.

Watch Out for Color

Finally, don’t be afraid to get a trim. Often the best way to help hair start afresh is to trim off the damaged ends. Be careful with color, as well. More color on top of the old can increase damage. If summer has turned your color brassy or otherwise faded it out, ask your stylist about less damaging options.

Most hair colors contain potentially toxic chemicals (as we talked about on this post). Semi-permanent color is less damaging. You can also go for just a few highlights or lowlights to limit your exposure.

Ask your stylist about more natural hair dyes, such as those offered by Aubrey organics. He or she can help guide you to the best solution. You can also enrich your color naturally, with the following ingredients:

  • Brunettes: Rinse with teas made from rosemary, sage, raspberry leaves, parsley, or catnip; with coffee or black tea; or by using an infusion of apple cider vinegar, rosemary, and coffee.
  • Blondes: Try rinses made from saffron, turmeric, calendula; or with infusions made of oat straw (Avena sativa), licorice root, and saffron.
  • Redheads: Try rinses made of cool, strong black coffee, or teas made with rosehips, red hibiscus, calendula or saffron.

Add vitamin E, wheat germ oil, or avocado oil to help condition your hair at the same time.

How do you get your hair to recover after a busy summer? Please share any tips you may have with our readers.

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