Summer is the season to let your hair down. Embrace that natural texture created by a dip in the ocean, go lighter and blonder, and skip a hair wash here and there in favour of more time in the sun. We are all for relaxing your haircare routine in the warmer months. The only problem is, summer isn’t always kind to our tresses.
To make sure you get to enjoy your fun in the sun and still keep your hair in tip-top shape, we asked Monique McMahon, leading Australian hair colourist and founder of Que Colour, for her expert advice on the top summer hair problems and how to solve them.
Frizz and dryness
The problem: “Frizz and dryness go hand in hand,” explains McMahon. “When our hair is dehydrated, it goes searching for moisture which is why you find on those super humid days your flyaways go crazy. Our hair is more exposed to natural aggressors during summer like sun damage, humidity and saltwater or chlorine pools. This is why you can feel like you’re fighting an uphill battle with frizz/dryness.”
How to fix it: “There are a few things you can do here to change your relationship with your hair. It's not so much about using a million products but rather having the right ones. You can start with your colourist if you’re having your hair highlighted.
"Opt for a high-lift tint foil rather than a bleached foil - and if your hair is really prone to dryness, I would always carefully look at what you’re planning for your colour first and find a happy medium between the colour you want and the colour that’s best for your hair. Secondly, invest in a good pre-shampoo oil or treatment that can also be left in whilst swimming to protect your hair against chlorine and UV exposure.”
The one product you need: “The top product to invest in is a daily hair moisturiser or cream that contains an SPF for your hair or anti-frizz agents. Do your research and just make sure to choose one without silicone, parabens or sulphate. Knowing the ingredients in your haircare is super important.”
Colour fade and brassiness
The problem: “Colour fades when our hair cuticles are opened and pigment is allowed to fade out. It’s important to know that this is a natural occurrence and will always happen with artificial colour. However, in summer, colour can fade more quickly as we tend to be swimming more, washing our hair more often and spending more time in the sun. The paler or finer the hair, the more it gets affected by UV rays, as they don’t have a natural protection against the sun. The brassiness is a result of colour oxidation, a reaction which affects the tone and makes it much warmer.”
How to fix it: “You can neutralise the oxidised effect of your hair colour with a specialised toning mask - a naturally pigmented purple mask for blondes or an ash version for brunettes will correct brassiness and unwanted warm tones, leaving them nourished and luminous again. An acidic pH-based shampoo is also useful as it retracts cuticles to lock pigments into the core of the hair fibre. Macadamia oil is great for protecting hair colour as it's rich in omega-9, which is restorative and nourishing.”
The one product you need: “Choose a sulphate-free cleanser as your shampoo to limit the amount of pigment loss. Sulphate-based shampoos are more aggressive cleansers and lift colour from the hair.”
Sun, saltwater and chlorine damage
The problem: “Us Aussie girls love the beach and those long hot days, but they don't always go hand in hand with our dual love for super creamy and healthy blonde shades, which are most prone to extensive chlorine damage. The sun's rays act like a bleach to pull pigment out of your hair, causing discolouration and leaving it brittle and prone to split ends.
"Chlorine on the other hand penetrates your hair, releasing the chemicals directly into the cuticle which can weaken and discolour your hair, giving you the dreaded green hue. Reducing chlorine damage is hard and can be an expensive issue to fix so it is best to completely protect your hair against chlorine by opting for a protective veil for your hair (or a swim cap).”
How to fix it: “Invest in a leave-in hair oil which will only come out when you shampoo your hair. Apply this as a pre-treatment as you would sunscreen every time you go to the beach or pool. Comb it through and reapply after swimming. Wear a hat when you’re not in the water.
"Avoid sulphate-based shampoos and instead, look for gentle, low-foam cleanser treatments that care for your scalp, nourish and re-elasticise strands and gently condition the ends. There are also some effective clarifying shampoos on the market which lift away residue and reset the hair fibre; opt for products that contain chamomile or cornflower as these extracts naturally brighten and lighten.”
The one product you need: “A toning mask or regenerating treatment once a week will keep your colour looking fresh and will nourish lengths and ends, making them more resilient and less prone to breakage.”
The problem: “Oily roots tend to occur more in summer due to the humidity As we’re more tempted to leave our hair after the beach or use dry shampoo to disguise our greasy roots, build-up can occur, leaving our scalp feeling out of whack and in need of a good cleanse.”
How to fix it: “Where possible, I recommend staying away from using dry shampoos regularly. They are notorious for building up on your scalp, so the skin on your scalp can't breathe properly. Even if you don’t do a full wash, a gentle cleanse after swimming in the ocean or pool will prevent you from ending up with beyond-repair oiliness.
"There’s a new wave of serum-style treatments and conditioners on the markets which are great for scalp and excess sebum issues; they’re lightweight and full of nutrients (like zinc, magnesium, potassium, iron, calcium) that care for the scalp’s microbiome and nourish the hair without weighing it down like a traditional conditioner can.”
The one product you need: “Salt scrub shampoos are the ultimate scalp detox product. By using a natural remedy such sea salt granules or sugar cane you can gently exfoliate build-up on your scalp and let your follicles breathe while cleansing away impurities left behind by product build-up.
"They also soothe and calm irritation and can break the cycle of greasy hair by pushing out the time between washes. French women love using rassoul clay on their scalps as it’s full of nutrients and minerals that fortify the hair and scalp, while also deep cleansing and soaking up excess oils. It’s like blotting paper for your scalp!”
- Pepe Havea / @pepehavea
- Que Colour / @quecolour