There’s no denying that hair—regardless of color, texture, or type—takes a bit of a beating during the summer months. From constant ocean and chlorine exposure to the sun’s harmful rays, this season subjects our strands to harsh conditions that can prove more damaging than we may think.
And if you happen to be a brunette-turned-platinum blonde like me? The damage factor is suddenly through the roof.
Being that my platinum hair tends to feel on the dryer side in general (and completely dead if I forget to condition it), I was curious to see how I could better protect it come beach season. So, I chatted with three hair color and care experts to get their tips on staying bleach blonde strong, all summer long. From protection tips to products to avoid, read on to learn how to bring your hair back to life, and keep it that way.
Condition, condition, condition
If you want your platinum hair to make it through the summer, you have to go into the season with hair that’s already in pretty good shape. David Adams, co-founder of FOURTEENJAY, preaches the importance of conditioning—from conditioning after shampooing to applying leave-in conditioners along with styling products.
But more important than the act of conditioning is what’s actually in the conditioner. One ingredient you should be looking for? Protein. “During the lightening process, protein is removed from the hair, so it is important to replace it with the correct protein-based conditioning product,” he says.
One treatment he recommends? “If you have extra time before dinner in the evening, apply an intense deep conditioning treatment—such as Damage Remedy Intense Restructuring Treatment—after shampooing, leave on for 20 minutes while sipping a cocktail, and then rinse.” I’m sure that’s a hair treatment we can all get on board with.
Hair protection is just as important as skin protection
Just like your skin needs protection before a day in the sun, so does your hair. Before you get to the beach or dive into the pool, Adams recommends spritzing on a protectant with UV ray defense, like Aveda’s Sun Care Protective Veil.
Better yet? You can repair your hair while you’re swimming. Paul Labrecque, founder and owner of Paul Labrecque Salon and Spa, recommends misting your hair with water, applying a repair treatment (such as his Repair Treatment Kit) making sure strands are completely saturated, and then tying it up into a ponytail. “This will help make sure the chemicals in the pool don’t harm your hair, with the treatment also working as a barrier,” he says.
One thing to steer clear of is anything oil-based if you plan on being directly in the sun. “The oil may ‘cook’ in the sun,” says Adams. “Also, oil-based products may affect the color of the blonde, turning it yellow.” Eeek!
Of course, you can also just opt for a cute hat.
Don't forget about aftercare
Even if you find yourself taking excellent care of your hair before and during a day in the sun or water, don’t forget to give your locks some nourishing love afterward.
If your hair has had its fair share of sun, salt, and/or chlorine exposure for the day, it’s important to wash it carefully afterward (especially chlorine, as nobody wishes to be green-blonde). Adams recommends washing with a protein-based shampoo and conditioner to bring hair back to life and to help reverse any damage that may have been done. Additionally, Julia Elena, colorist at Hairstory, recommends opting for detergent-free products that will nourish the hair, rather than strip it further.
Another hair mask-and-cocktail session couldn’t hurt either.
Embrace violet-based hair products
Summer hair wear and tear can cause your bleached blonde locks to turn brassy and yellow, but fear not, there is a quick and easy solution: violet-based hair products.
Shampoos and conditioners that have a violet base, such as Aveda’s Blue Malva collection, can actually help remove any yellow or brassiness you find plaguing your white blonde, according to Adams. However, he warns not to overdo it. “If your hair is porous, as most lightened hair is, the hair may absorb too much of the violet, resulting in the color being reminiscent of grandma’s blue rinse!” To avoid an accidental color disaster, don’t use them each time you wash, just when you need a refresher.
If you know an upcoming vacation is going to wreak havoc on the tone of your hair, you can also ask your stylist to whip you up a purple-toned concoction to bring with you, and allow them to adjust the strength and intensity themselves. “If my platinum clients are leaving for vacation, I normally provide them with a hand-mixed toner, which is a combination of Lavender Adore hair dye and New Wash, which is similar to a purple shampoo,” says Elena.
Towel dry your hair the right way
During the summer months, your hair is likely going to get wet a lot. From washing it more than usual due to clammy conditions or frequenting the pool and beach, you’ll be grabbing for your towel more than you do other times of the year.
With that said, it’s important to learn how to properly towel dry, whether you’re hopping out of the shower or drying off poolside, to avoid any unnecessary damage. “Wrap the hair in a towel and make a turban,” says Adams. “Leave it on for 10 minutes or so, and the towel will absorb the moisture in the hair. Vigorously rubbing your hair with a towel causes friction and destroys the cuticle.” What does a damaged cuticle mean? Our worst nightmare: dry, frizzy, easily breakable hair.
When it comes to hair care, those with bleached hair cannot afford to skimp. Adams stresses how important it is to give your blonde locks the best TLC possible in order to make all of the hassle worth it. “Quite often people commit to being blonde, but do not commit to looking after their hair at home with the correct product,” he says. “It doesn’t matter how great your colorist is—you can make or break your color depending on the products you use at home. Do not skimp! Use good, protein-based products. Your hair and your color and your colorist will thank you!”
Remember: Being a babely blonde is a full-on commitment that you need to be ready for. It requires time, money, and a lot of upkeep—and much like a relationship, if you’re not able to give it all you got, you may need to reconsider before taking the plunge.