Whenever I hear people talking about how to get “perfect beach hair” I always laugh a bit to myself. Whereas some might hear the phrase "beach waves" and think of perfectly tousled mermaid strands, I hear it and think of a sad dry afro begging for relief.
My hair is naturally quite dry, and the only thing I can do to bring definition to my curls is keep it as moisturized as possible. Moisture is the essence of wetness, and wetness is the essence of beauty after all right?
Preventing my hair from drying out means no shampoo, super hydrating sulfate-free conditioners, a ridiculous arsenal of styling products, and avoiding heat styling at all costs. I’ve gotten pretty good at giving my hair what it needs and sadly, that doesn’t include chlorine or salt water.
While I may not love summer, I do love being in the water. So what’s a girl to do when her hair hates pools and oceans but she can’t get enough of them? Trick it into doing what I want with beauty magic of course!
The first trick is pretty simple. Before you get in a pool or the ocean, douse your hair with salt- or chlorine-free water. Your hair is porous like a sponge, and if that sponge is already full of water, it’ll absorb less of the water you’re about to get in. Simple, easy, free!
I know there’s not always a source for clean water wherever you’re swimming. If this is the case, skip the water step and head straight for the big guns:
Spray your hair liberally with a leave-in conditioner of your choosing. (Really go to town with the leave-in so your hair is noticeably damp.) This adds another layer of protection between your hair and the bad business in the water.
I like Organix Nourishing Coconut Milk Leave-In Nourishing Milk. It’s a spray, so it’s easy to distribute over all of my hair, plus it’s cheap and it has a delicious coconut smell.
If I’m out of that I’ll use a concoction that I always keep on hand in a spray bottle in my bathroom. It consists of one part leave-in conditioner (I use Kinky Curly Knot Today, but we can talk more about that another time), one part coconut oil, and four parts water. You have to shake it before you use it though, because the ingredients tend to separate.
In order to keep my hair from drying after a swim, I squeeze out whatever excess water I can (but I don’t towel dry it, because my hair HATES towels) and then apply some type of oil. I usually use either coconut or almond oils because those are my two favorites and the ones I usually have. (I’ve been known to use my beloved Goe Oil too, but I wouldn’t recommend it because that stuff is expensive and cheaper oils work just as well here.) I concentrate it on the ends of my hair because those tend to be the driest.
Both coconut and almond oils have a VERY small amount of naturally occurring SPF (coconut: SPF of about 8 and almond: SPF of about 5). But if I’m spending a prolonged period of time in the sun, I want to protect my hair with a little something more.
I like Aveda Sun Care Protective Hair Veil a lot. It’s got coconut, palm, and sunflower seed oils in it AND shea butter, all of which really work for my hair. The only thing I don’t love about it is that alcohol is the first ingredient listed, but I don’t use it enough to notice any drying effects.
The other hair sunscreen I love isn’t actually a hair suncreen at all, but I don’t care: Alba Botanica Hawaiian Dry-Oil Sunscreen. It’s fantastic. (As I write this, I’m realizing that almost all of my summer hair products have something to do with coconut, I think I might have a problem.…) It’s technically meant for one's bod, but as it’s packed with all them good oils my hair seems to love, I decided to put it on my head, and lo and behold, it worked.
Now obviously, I have dry, coarse hair, so I can handle a LOT of oil. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen my hair get greasy. However, if your hair is oily, you’ll want to pick a leave-in conditioner and hair sunscreen you know won’t weigh your hair down.
So tell me, is anybody else out there as vigilant as I am when it comes to protecting their hair from saltwater/chlorine/sun exposure? If so, share your tips in the comments!