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It doesn't do a lot of good to get a beautiful tan at the expense of hair that looks dull, feels dry, and frizzles up into unmanageable tangles with split ends.

It doesn't do a lot of good to get a beautiful tan at the expense of hair that looks dull, feels dry, and frizzles up into unmanageable tangles with split ends. Sun-damaged hair, however, is not an unavoidable price to pay for summer fun in the sun. Here are the top ten hair care tips for summer to protect your hair from sun damage.

1. Don't wash your hair more than twice a week if at all possible.

Many of the lubricants your hair needs to stay silky and smooth after sun exposure are made by the scalp itself, but if you wash them away, your hair can only dry out. If there is something you need to get out of your hair, try rinsing without shampoo.

When you do have to use shampoo, the best shampoos for your hair are lower in pH, which makes them gentler on the cuticle that holds your hair in place. Shampoos that contain humectants attract moisture to your hair and hold it there.

It's also important to make sure that you use shampoos that don't contain sodium lauryl sulfate or sodium laureth sulfate. These chemicals can irritate your scalp, and, in extreme cases, even make your hair fall out.

It's only extreme cases, however, that these common hair care chemicals are a real problem. A few years ago, clinical tests found that a 5% solution of sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) caused hair loss. Most commercial shampoos are 10 to 20% SLS.

These tests, however, also required volunteers to keep the shampoo on their hair for a full five hours. The bottom line is, completely rinsing the shampoo out of your hair, if you have to use a brand that is made with SLS, protects your hair. Rinsing after a minute or so greatly reduces the risk of hair damage.

Also, since you definitely need to wash your hair after swimming, especially after swimming in salt water, you will need to war a bathing cap or to avoid swimming more often than twice a week.

2. Massage your scalp every time you shampoo.

Massaging your scalp stimulates the production of hair-protective sebum, but be careful that you don't tug on fragile hair. You want to stimulate the oil glands in your scalp to produce the sebum that lubricates your hair and makes it full, but you don't want to pull out damaged hair.

3. Use conditioner after every shampoo.

Conditioner can replace the body shampooing takes out of your hair, but some conditioners are worse than no treatment at all. Any conditioner that contains alcohol, essential oils, or fragrances can dry out both your hair and your scalp.

4. Air-dry. Don't blow dry.

Don't use a blow drier to dry your hair. The heat from your blow drier only compounds sun damage. If you must use a blow drier, turn it to its lowest setting and use a diffuser, a filter you place on the end of your blow drier.

5. Use appropriate hair restoration products.

The right product for your hair depends on whether your hair is thick or thin, straight or curly, naturally oily or naturally dry. There are so many hair restoration products that sometimes it is hard to know where to look. Here are some hair care tips for perusing the product aisles:

  • If you have thick, curly, or coarse hair, you can rehydrate with Aussie 3-Minute Miracle Hair Mask. Just apply to the hair for three minutes and rinse away.
  • If you have thin, brittle, straight hair, you will get better results with a product like Phytosesame Express Hydrating Conditioner. It also rejuvenates hair in minutes.
  • For split ends and other problem areas, you might want to try J.F. Lazartigue Vita-Cream with Milk Proteins after you shampoo. This product is usually applied only to problem areas.

Or you might be able to take care of dry hair with just a drop or two of jojoba oil. The important thing to remember that no single product works for every kind of hair. If you are on a strict budget, however, about half a teaspoon (2 ml) of safflower or olive oil rubbed into your hair after showering, being careful not to use too much, may also be helpful. Always spread the product up your hair away from your scalp, not down your hair toward your scalp.

6. Avoid using hair mousse on dry, brittle hair.

Mousse can dry out your hair. Use a hair-thickening agent instead. Hair straighteners, relaxants, and dyes should also be avoided on dry hair.

7. While you can apply a conditioner that contains sunscreen to your hair after you shampoo, it's more important to avoid overheating your hair.

Whether or not heating is due to direct exposure your hair to the sun, it's heat that causes dry hair, not the sunlight itself. Cover your hair with a hat when you go out doors, preferably one with a broad brim that also protects your face, ears, and neck.

8. Avoid the combination of heat and oil on your hair, unless you are using essential oils.

All oils seal moisture in your hair. If you "cook" most oils on your hair, however, they will form a barrier that not only seals old moisture in but also seals new moisture out. It's important to apply any oil to your hair after your blow dry or use a curling oil, not before.

9. And with all that you do to keep your hair lustrous and silky, make sure it doesn't flop down into your face.

Hair oils are a major cause of blackheads, whiteheads, and pimples. The most important hair care tip for keeping you skin blemish-free is to keep your hair out of your face.

10. Finally, no list of hair care tips would be complete without a reminder to take care of your hair from the inside out.

It's relatively rare for nutritional factors to be the sole cause of dry hair, although this can happen when there is a deficiency of the B vitamin biotin. Consuming large amounts of raw egg white, usually in protein supplements, or taking large amounts of R-lipoic or alpha-lipoic acid, can result in biotin deficiency. The particular B vitamin deficiency is most common in people who have blond or strawberry-blond hair.

Most of the time it's enough to make sure you keep well hydrated, by drinking at least eight cups (about 2 liters) of water every day, eating foods that include n-3 essential fatty acids (such as olive oil, nuts, seeds, and fish), and getting your recommended daily intake of vitamins and minerals all support naturally flexible, silky, lustrous hair that stands up to sun and heat.

  • Fujita F, Azuma T, Tajiri M, Okamoto H, Sano M, Tominaga M. Significance of hair-dye base-induced sensory irritation. Int J Cosmet Sci. 2010 Jun,32(3):217-24
  • Zaichick S, Zaichick V. The effect of age and gender on 37 chemical element contents in scalp hair of healthy humans. Biol Trace Elem Res. 2010 Apr, 134(1):41-54. Epub 2009 Jul 21.