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When it comes to summer beauty practices, less is definitely more. Whether you’re on the go with a busy schedule, dealing with hot, humid weather — or both — it’s the perfect time to simplify your haircare routine.

Even if you do embrace a lower-maintenance regimen, it’s still important to protect your hair from the sun, as excessive exposure can affect hair health and cause it to appear dry and brittle. For tips on how to protect and style sun-exposed hair, we spoke with Trish Tabatt, elite stylist for LifeSpa at Life Time in Edina, Minn. 

4 Ways to Protect Your Strands

1. Wear a hat

Hats are a stylish, functional way to protect your hair and scalp from sun damage. From bucket hats and baseball caps to wide-brimmed floppy styles, there are many options available to shield yourself.

2. Use sunscreen

“Any sunscreen that is safe for your face is safe for your scalp,” says Tabatt. “And most professional haircare lines offer specific sun-care products for your hair. They typically include a more moisturizing shampoo and conditioner, as well as a leave-in spray that contains UV protection. You can also find oils or other leave-in treatments that state UV or sun protection.”

3. Block chlorine

Chlorine from pool water can strip the natural oils from your hair and cause chemical reactions that leave it dry and damaged. If you have color-treated hair, the chemicals in chlorine also bond with the artificial color in your hair, causing it to fade more quickly.

“If you are a swimmer like me, always wet your hair, apply a leave-in conditioner or oil, and put on a swim cap before you get in the pool,” Tabatt advises. “If you are not comfortable in a swim cap, style your hair in a braid, ponytail, or bun to keep it out of your face.”

When you get out of the pool, wash immediately with a moisturizing shampoo and follow up with a moisturizing conditioner. Again, add your leave-in conditioner or oil before using other styling products. Once a week, use a chlorine-removing shampoo and a moisturizing hair mask.

“When I’m in the pool a lot, weekly hair masks are key to keeping my locks healthy — along with regular haircuts to remove any damaged ends,” Tabatt adds.

To revive damaged hair, ask your stylist about a Malibu Treatment, which removes excess build-up from hard water and chlorine. This can also help prep your hair for color or highlights.

 4. Defend your color

“If you have colored hair, you need to be extra careful in the sun and with chlorine,” Tabatt warns. “To protect your hair color from fading or turning, take all the precautions, including the ones we’ve already mentioned: wearing a hat, using a color-safe shampoo and conditioner, and applying UV protection.”

“Some brands have specific color-care products for extended sun exposure days,” she adds. “To minimize sun damage, spray your strands with a color-protecting hair sunscreen before wearing in a braid, bun, or ponytail. And if your color is feeling dull, see your stylist for a gloss or toner service to feel refreshed between hair color appointments.”

Embracing the Weather

“While you might be tempted to tame unruly locks with flat irons and blow dryers, its best to embrace whatever the weather does to your natural hair texture,” says Tabatt. “Using heat tools on your hair daily can cause breakage. After the shower, I love using an anti-frizz product and letting my hair air dry.”

Tabatt recommends using the right product for your hair type:

  • For fine hair, use a spray-on product.
  • For curly hair, use a serum or cream.
  • For coarse hair, use an anti-frizz oil.

“If you do spend time and effort styling your hair, you’ll want extra protection during humid weather,” says Tabatt. “An anti-humidity spray can help your style last for up to 12 hours, and a little dry shampoo can help extend it for even longer.”

For a self-care treat, book a keratin smoothing treatment at the salon or have your stylist give you a blowout that will last a few days.

Summertime Styling

With high temperatures and a jam-packed summer schedule, many opt for easy, get-up-and-go hairstyles. To give your hair dryer and styling tools a rest, try this season’s most popular heat-free looks.

“There are actually tons of heatless styles to help you feel put-together but won’t make you break a sweat while you’re getting ready,” said Tabatt. Here are some of her favorites:

“Plopping” for curly hair

If you have coarse or naturally curly hair, it can be difficult to get it to cooperate in hot or humid weather. The plopping technique takes your hair from wet to dry without losing curl definition or creating frizz. Start with freshly washed hair, squeeze out excess water, and apply a leave-in conditioner, oil, or curl cream — whatever works best for your hair type.

Then, flipping your head upside-down, use a long-sleeved T-shirt to wrap your hair on top of your head (similar to wrapping it with a towel). Tie the sleeves around your head to keep it secure. The smooth T-shirt fabric will soak up the moisture in your hair without creating frizz, cut down drying time, and create lift and body for fine hair. Leave the T-shirt on your head for 10 to 20 minutes, then let your hair finish air drying or blow dry using a diffuser.

 Low pony with a middle part

Ponytails and buns are always fashionable. To create this look, add your favorite hair gel or smoothing cream to wet hair and part it down the middle. Let it air dry and style in a low pony or bun for a sleek summer hairdo. A low side pony or braid can also be fun, especially when paired with a sun hat, hair tie, or scarf.

Frizz-free braids

“Braids are a fun way to control frizz,” says Tabatt. “Experiment with French or fishtail braids or ask your stylist to show you a few tips and tricks to style up traditional braids.”

Loose, air-dried waves

When air-drying your hair, embrace your natural texture with a curl-enhancing or texturizing product and twist one-inch sections away from your face, alternating twisting strands in different directions. Use your fingers to tousle your hair once it dries.

Emily Ewen

Emily Ewen is a senior writer and content editor at Life Time.

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