By Sineade Williams
Although the ocean does wonders for the body, mind, and soul, one area that it can be rough on is the hair. We’ve all felt our locs after a long day of sun and sea exploration – that feeling of dry, brittle, and crunchy strands beneath the fingertips is never a pleasant one.
Below are some tips and tricks on how to manage and possibly avoid this experience and help those strands return to their hydrated state.
How salt water affects hair
Dehydration: by drawing moisture from the hair and the scalp, salt water can leave dry, damaged and brittle hair behind.
Color fading: Salt water has been known to strip color from dyed hair and well as damaging chemically treated hair
Scalp irritation: for those with more sensitive scalps, the exfoliating quality of salty sea water might be too harsh and cause some irritation
Moisture vs Hydration
It’s important to understand the difference between moisture and hydration, as sometimes it is common to get the two mixed up. Knowing the difference will make a huge difference in your post-swim hair routine.
When it comes to hydrating hair, we want to focus on the inner strands, as this is where the retention of water is most important to ensure hair health. Moisture, on the other hand, relates to the outer layer of the hair strand with the aim being to help regulate the loss and evaporation of the hydration from the inner layer through the use of oils.
Understanding how salt water affects hair can really help when it comes to formulating a plan for an effective post-swim or surf care routine. Moisture and hydration when it comes to keeping hair plump, juicy and full of volume.
Use these tips to show those strands some care, whether on the straight, curly or afro-spectrum, these tips be applied.
Freshwater vs Saltwater
Rinsing hair with fresh water before swimming means that there is no space in the hair strand for saltwater to be absorbed while swimming.
Using oil, applied before entering the ocean, is a great tip for those who suffer from dry hair and scalps as it helps prevent breakage and damage. Coconut oil is a great guilt-free option as it doesn’t pollute oceans.
Your Post-Ocean Routine
For all the curly and afro surf queens, the importance of detangling before a wash session can never be understated. Best done with a wide-toothed comb or detangling brush, it's best to take it slow and remember to do so with a product that gives the hair a lot of slip.
Getting every morsel of salt out of the hair and off the scalp is one of the most important parts of the haircare process post-swim and will ensure that the following steps are more effective.
Created to penetrate deep into the hair shaft, treatments like deep conditioning after a day in the sea to help restore moisture at the root. This could actually be a great point at which to detangle hair and would also help the product penetrate deeper.
Hair mask & hot oil treatments
With the oil following the mask, hair masks are a great way to help hydration get to the inner shaft as well as providing strengthening benefits while reducing breakage. Followed with a hot oil treatment, this two-step system covers all the hydration and moisturizing bases to keep hair healthy, strong and shiny.
As with all body care, hair care is an act of self-love, and taking the necessary precautions and steps to ensure that it’s at its best health will only make the next beach day that much more enjoyable.