Sun, picnics, long lazy days. Is there anything better than summer? We can put our diffusers away and air-dry our locks. And, of course, if we’re lucky enough to be by a coast, the warm sand is there for the perfect beach day.
The beach is many of our favorite locales, but for those of us blessed with curly hair it gets a little more complicated. Sun exposure can be harmful, causing structural damage to the hair shaft and leading to drier, frizzier and damaged hair. Sand can sit on our scalps and lead to more buildup. And most importantly, salt water can wreak havoc on all the work you’ve put in to make your curls look hydrated and beautiful.
Let’s dive (pun fully intended!) into beach tips.
Salt water - yes or no?
Many of us, including our wavy haired brothers and sisters, love a good salt spray to increase volume and definition. When we’re swimming in salt water, though, that story changes.
Our hair is able to soak up anything it meets, which is great news when we add water and products, and is why our curls can look so gorgeous. But when our hair meets salt water and nothing else, the salt attracts all the water from the hair, and wicks away moisture from inside the hair strand. Think of this as the equivalent of spending the day drinking only salt water. It leads to dehydration, which means our hair may become dull, matted and tangled. The hair will then break easier, and take much longer to dry as it’s desperately trying to hold on to any moisture it can.
Never fear, though!
If you’re feeling minimalist, you can always go with a simple, tried and true trick. Grab your favorite spray bottle and fill it with equal parts conditioner and water. Shake it up, toss it in with your beach things, and spray it on your curls before you head into the water and immediately after you get out.
This will provide a quick barrier and give your hair a tide over to your wash day. If you’re looking for a bit more to do we’ve got you! Read on, beach babe.
Prep your hair
Before you head out to the beautiful waves, add a light hair oil or spray that has UV protection (like sunscreen for your curls!). This will help shield your hair from the damage of the sun and protect from salt water.
Right before you go in the water, add a spray of the conditioner/water mixture on your hair. Then when you jump in, your curls meet the protective oil, your spray and the salt water, making less space for the salt water to absorb into the strands.
This is the best part, and we don’t need to tell you much more about it. Get in that water! You deserve it.
Rinse and reapply
Once you’ve had your well deserved moment in the beautiful water, it’s time to rinse out. Use fresh water to rinse your hair, and then reapply your homemade conditioner/water mixture.
When you get home from the beach, hop in the shower to get that sand and salt water off your body and hair. As we mentioned, swimming in salt water causes hair to amass buildup and dry out, so it’s important to regularly clarify after beach days. Clarifying shampoos can be very drying, though, so limit this to no more than once a week. Directly after clarifying, we also advise replacing your regular conditioner with a deep conditioning mask.
Deep condition / Mask
Now that you’ve cleared your hair of buildup, it’s time to get to repairing. We recommend a mask that has a high moisture content. If you’re someone who has damage, colors your hair, or just someone whose hair loves protein, you can also spring for a mask that provides both moisture and protein (read here for a thorough explanation of protein!).
And, if all of this seems too much, you can always opt for a protective style (check out our blog on this for some fun ideas!). And don't forget for those low-maintenance hair days, clip-in hair extensions are a great way to add a little variety to your summer styles.
We hope you feel ready to hit the beach and have the best day! Let us know if you have any tips we missed.