When we think of that summer sun blazing down on us, we think of protecting our skin. But what about our hair? If summer sun protection for your hair isn’t on your radar yet, it should be.
The sun is an equal opportunity scorcher. It does what it does and it’s up to you to protect your body – including your hair – lest you pay the price: dry, brittle, damaged hair. And if your hair is already a victim of abuse (frequent coloring, flat or curling irons, etc), it’s especially at risk of sun damage.
Minimize the sun damage to your hair with these tips:
- Trim it: Of course you probably want long flowing hair for summer, but already damaged ends can look way worse after a long, hot summer. Keep your hair trimmed to minimize the damage.
- Avoid excess heat: Likewise, relying too much on hair dryers and irons can, well, dry your hair out. Getting in the sun is like a second round of blow drying, so opt for air-drying in the warmer months.
- Nourish your hair: Just like you need to eat right for your skin, your hair loves the same attention. Lots of healthy fats, foods rich in biotin, and of course, copious amounts of water help to keep hair healthy and shiny.
- Swim smart: If you dive into the pool as soon as Memorial Day rolls around, you’re going to want to invest in a good swim cap. As unflattering as they may look, they do protect your hair from the chlorine (or salt) damage.
- Cover up in direct sun: A hat is going to provide some protection from the sun, but for long hair, not so much unless you tuck it into your hat or wrap it in a scarf.
- Condition, condition, condition! As in turn the water off, get out of the shower for half an hour and THEN rinse the conditioner out. You can also include a deep conditioning hair mask once a week or every other week to boost hydration and keep your locks looking healthy.
- Reduce washes: You’re probably washing your hair too much already. But in summer? You can cut the washing way down. In fact, you can simply just condition your hair a few times a week and wash it only once or twice a week. Unless you have a specific scalp condition that requires frequent washing, a good conditioning should be all your hair needs during the hot days of summer.
Check out our favorite deep conditioners for hair:
Coconut Calendula Conditioner
Maca Tonic Hair Crème
Olive Black Seed Conditioning Cream
Nothing is perhaps as uplifting as a fresh new color to pull you out of a hairstyle rut. In an instant (or, more like an hour), you can refresh your look and style. But coloring your hair not only comes with health risks, but it damages the hair leaving it dry, brittle, and prone to breaking. Do you know the best tips for taking care of color-treated hair?
5 Tips to Protect Color-Treated Hair
- Use a sulfate-free shampoo: Sulfates, for all their lathering action, can strip away the color faster. Look for sulfate-free shampoos to keep color lasting longer and hair looking healthier.
- Dial down the hot water: While hot showers certainly feel nice, they can make color fade faster by expanding the hair cuticle. Use warm to lukewarm water for washing and conditioning.
- Reduce hair-washing: If you’re a daily hair washer, try reducing to every other day or every few days. The less you wash your hair the longer the color lasts. And daily washing is generally unnecessary, so save that money you’d be spending on hair care products. For people with extra fine hair or super active lifestyles where washing daily seems necessary, try skipping the shampoo and just conditioning. And don’t wash just-dyed hair for at least 48 hours. This gives the color time to settle and reduces the chance of it fading right from the start.
- Reduce brassiness: Some hair care products (especially those orange in color) can turn any dye job into a carroty-colored fiasco. Avoid chlorine when possible. If you are planning to hit the pool, rinse hair with fresh water before getting in as it reduces the potential to absorb the color-changing chlorine.
- Sun protection: It may sound impossible, but protecting colored hair from sun can also prevent brassiness and weakening the hair. Just like sun can burn our skin, it can do a number on our hair as well. Use hats when exposed to full sun and look for all-natural color protecting sprays for hair.
Try our Coconut Calendula conditioner for color-treated hair.
Winter weather doesn’t just lead to dry, cracked, and sensitive skin, it can also leave your precious hair lackluster, brittle, and prone to frizz and split ends. If it seems like you’re going through a bottle of conditioner every time you wash your hair, you may be in a need of hydrating hair masks.
You can, of course, purchase a ready-made hair mask, but DIYing them is just as messy easy!— and much more cost effective. And, if you’re snowed in or stuck inside because it’s freezing as heck out there, you’ve probably got some of these hydrating superstars in your kitchen right now, anyway.
First, a winter hair care tip: Don’t wash it as much as you do in the summer. Skipping the daily shampooing keeps the natural oils circulating, which protects both the scalp from dryness (hello, dandruff), and keeps the hair more hydrated—aka soft and silky.
DIY Hair Masks
The easiest go-to hair mask is a deep conditioning with coconut oil. We’ve discussed its merits here before, and they’re worthy of repeating: coconut oil is particularly beneficial for your hair, making it an excellent DIY hair mask treatment.
Starting with dry hair, add a bit of coconut oil to the ends and work your way up the hair, making sure to massage into your scalp as well. Leave on for as little as 20 minutes or overnight. Shampoo and condition as normal.
Avocado DIY Hair Mask
A bit more messy than coconut oil, but avocado is an excellent hair mask treatment, particularly this time of year. And it’s perfect when your ‘cados go from unripe to overripe while you took the trash out.
Mash up half an avocado (more for thicker/longer hair) and optional: mix with a teaspoon of olive oil (also a great, but expensive, hair mask on its own) and a tablespoon of honey.
For this mask, you want to dampen hair first but don’t shampoo just yet. Mix all ingredients well and apply to damp hair and let sit for at least 20 minutes, but up to an hour is fine, too. You just don’t want the hair to dry too much, so if your hair is on the thinner side, stick to the 20 minutes.
Rinse and wash hair as normal, being sure to use an extra hydrating conditioner.
Not quite a hair mask, but rinsing your hair with apple cider vinegar (ACV!) after shampooing and conditioning can also help to make it shinier, softer, and less prone to breakage. Works great after a hair mask treatment–and no, your hair won’t smell like salad dressing. The smell of vinegar evaporates after the hair dries.
Hair masks can be applied weekly for best results.
When it comes to oils with benefits for skin and hair: coconut oil is the clear winner. Its popularity is certainly merit-based; coconut oil is nothing short of miracle for the body—inside and out. But there are plenty of other oils with good-for-you benefits worthy of praise, including the rising star argan oil and its many benefits.
Like many oils, argan oil comes from a tree nut of the argan tree, which is prized by Moroccans as a miracle tree of sorts. The argan trees are exclusive to the region, making them all the more special. So special, in fact, that UNESCO has protected the region, known as the “Arganeraie Biosphere Reserve.”
But don’t worry that using argan oil is depleting or damaging the reserve. Most argan is harvested by women in small cooperatives vital to the Berber community. This sustainable practice promotes reforestation and it’s such a vital industry for the country, supporting about ten percent of Moroccans. That’s some oil!
So what does argan do for you?
1. Moisturizing: Argan oil is a nutrient-rich super oil loaded with vitamins A and E, as well as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids all vital for skin and hair, making it a most reliable and excellent moisturizer.
2. Skin toning and healing: Both vitamins A and E are critical to boosting skin health, including speeding healing and recovery, reducing the signs of aging, and reducing breakouts. That’s good for skin that looks and is healthy year-round.
3. Makeup removal: Like any oil, argan is excellent at removing makeup from the skin, including heavy eye makeup. Just be sure to avoid getting it in your eyes unless you don’t mind a little oily, blurry vision for a bit.
4. Healthy and strong hair: Argan oil has a reputation for being one of the best oils for hair—maybe even more so than coconut oil. Credit goes to its moisturizing abilities, where it sinks deep into the hair follicle, literally making it shinier and silkier from the inside out.
5. Bye-bye split ends! Argan’s super healing and moisturizing benefits can make it your BFF in the battle against split ends. While nothing will get rid of them once you have them (except for a trim), using argan oil on your hair regularly can keep them from occurring so quickly.
6. Healthy scalp: If dandruff or dry scalp are recurring issues, you’re going to want to give argan a go. It’s effective in nourishing not only the hair, but the often-neglected scalp that can become dry and irritated by conventional hair care products.
7. De-Frizz: Most any oil applied to the hair will help reduce frizziness, but because argan doesn’t leave hair super greasy, it can be left on like a leave-in conditioner, particularly helpful during frizzy hair season. You can do deep conditioning like overnight hair masks with argan to help reduce frizz and boosting shine.
Check out our favorite argan oil products!
Argan & Yarrow Sunscreen Mineral Moisturizer
African Organic Body Oil Blend
Pomegranate & Eyebright Serum
Move over, pumpkin spice lattes. The real star of the season are these pumpkin seed oil benefits.
Is there anything bad about pumpkins? Okay, maybe the rotting jack-o’-lantern doorstep mush in November is a tad bit annoying, but the payoff of pumpkin season is no joke. And not just for your belly, either. After all, there are only so many PSLs you can drink in a season, right?
Here’s the thing about pumpkins: yes that creamy orange flesh is chock-full of vitamins, fiber, and healthy, delicious goodness. But it’s those little seeds—you know, the ones you pitch when you carve that doorstep decoration—that are the real stars of the gourd.
Pumpkin seeds not only boast superior health benefits when ingested, but these nutty little gems are nature’s best-kept beauty secret too. Here’s why you should be looking for skincare products with pumpkin seed oil as a featured ingredient.
- Free radical defense: Rich in vitamin E, zinc, and a host of antioxidants, pumpkin seed oil, when applied to skin, helps to reduce free-radical damage, keeping skin looking younger and healthier. The zinc can help to speed healing, improving skin tone, and fight acne, too.
- Moisture, moisture, moisture: The high omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid content in pumpkin seed oil makes it a moisturizing powerhouse—a must during the colder autumn and winter months when skin can become dry and lackluster.
- Increased hair growth: Pumpkin seed oil may slow the production of 5-alpha reductase enzymes, which can slow your hair growth. Taking a pumpkin seed oil supplement may help to stimulate hair growth—good to know if you went a little overboard on your DIY bang trim.
- Boosts hair health and shine: It’s those omega fatty acids again! This time, they’re boosting the smoothness and shine of your hair as well as its overall health—whether you ingest or use pumpkin seed oil topically. This is, of course, a must for anyone with processed or color-treated hair that can dry out quickly. Is there anything this tiny miracle seed can’t do?
Check out our favorite pumpkin seed oil products:
Ginko and pumpkin créme
Chamomile and blue cornflower toner
Pomegranate and eyebright serum
Sulfates in shampoos are kind of like the hydrogenated oils of the hair care world: we know we should avoid them, even if we’re not entirely sure what the heck they are.
In short, sulfates are complicated detergents best known as (but not always) sodium lauryl (or laureth) sulfate and ammonium lauryl sulfate. Like any other detergent, sulfates help to clean. If, like me, you have a toddler who finds it hilarious to stick her peanut-butter-coated fingers in your hair, they’re a guaranteed way to get your hair from gross to gorgeous–or at least, not gross.
But, of course, they’re not the only way. And there may be good reason to avoid sulfates in shampoos.
The main reason many people avoid sulfates is that quite simply, they can dry out your hair faster. (It’s part of the reason your conditioner goes twice as fast as your shampoo—you’re going to be battling dry hair the more it’s exposed to harsh detergents.) You’re likely to suffer from frizziness, split ends, and generally more bad hair days when your hair is dry and damaged.
Likewise, color-treated hair suffers from sulfates exposure as well—it can strip your color requiring more frequent coloring sessions, which also dries out your hair and digs into your constant need for conditioner.
If you’re already battling a sensitive scalp or dandruff conditions, sulfates can also exacerbate those situations, causing dry, and even painful scalp flaking and irritation.
And, of course, while sulfates can be derived from natural ingredients like coconut, it’s kind of the same as those hydrogenated oils that come from recognizable ingredients as well. Only thing is, they’ve undergone chemical alterations that pretty much negate the naturalness of the original ingredient. So, if you’re a natural beauty junkie, you may want to steer clear of sulfates just because of their inherent unnaturalness.
The good news is the Environmental Working Group gives sulfates a low-risk rating (1-2), and they’re not linked to any known cancer risk like some ingredients still found in personal care products.
So, now you’re off sulfates and looking for sulfate-free shampoos to wash your tresses with. But what are those, exactly?
Most likely you’ll see more mild detergents used that don’t lather as richly as sulfate shampoos. And the names might be tricky, too, like sodium lauryl sulfoacetate, which actually sounds a lot like the sulfates you’re looking to avoid but is not the same. But if you’re willing to sacrifice a few suds for more natural, healthy hair, then sulfate-free products may just be the way to go. (And you’ll still probably need to double-up on conditioner anyway because no matter what, they never match up.)
Lather. Rinse. Repeat. It says it there right on the bottle. How could you possibly go wrong? Seems like there is only one possible right way to wash your hair, right? Wrong.
You may be washing your hair less frequently these days—it’s better for your hair and for the planet. But you also want to make the most of those wash sessions so it’s not all in vain. And, believe it or not, you could be wasting your precious ‘poo (not to mention water) if you’re not following a few key steps for perfectly washed hair every time.
How to Wash Hair the Right Way
Start with wet hair: If you pile shampoo onto dry hair thinking you’re saving water, you could be wasting your shampoo and conditioner. Wetting the hair rinses off any dirt and oil that can block the hair cuticle and makes it easier to absorb the moisturizing benefits of your shampoo and conditioner.
Wash your scalp: There’s one rule of thumb for hair care: wash your scalp; condition your hair. Don’t worry about getting the sudsy action all the way down to your ends. Shampooing is really about cleaning and stimulating the scalp for healthy hair growth and to reduce dandruff.
Condition first: This is only really necessary for long hair, and you’ll surely notice quite the difference once you start. Long hair is prone to drying out and breakage, the extra conditioning helps to keep hair healthy and shiny.
Condition generously: This is really what your hair craves more than the cleansing—moisturize-locking conditioning. So pay the most attention to the ends and work your way up to the root. And be sure to get the right type of conditioner for your hair type. Your hairdresser will be able to recommend the best ingredients or keywords to look for on your hair care products.
Don’t rinse and repeat: I know. But the bottle says so! Unless you have exceptionally dirty hair (like, literally, a bucket of dirt was dumped on your head), then you do not need to repeat the washing cycle. As noted above, your hair really wants the moisture from the conditioner, not the cleansing of the shampoo.
Cold water rinse: You might recall that your hairdresser turns the water colder for the rinse cycle. He or she isn’t trying to make you tip them less—it’s actually better for your hair. Just like rinsing with warm water to start opens up your hair cuticle, cold water shuts it off, making it shinier.
Don’t wash daily: It’s true, you really do not need to wash your hair daily—or even weekly in most cases. Yes, hair care companies will tell you different, naturally, but hair can—and should—go days between washing. This lets your natural oils moisturize the scalp and hair, keeps your locks from drying out, and saves you time and cash.
Avoid overdrying: Nobody likes to walk around with soaking wet hair, but putting that hair dryer on full blast does just what it’s supposed to do–dry out your hair. But not in the good way. Too much hair drying (hot irons, too), will damage your hair. Try letting it air-dry, at least every other washing.
Check out Zatik’s hair care products.
It may seem unbelievable, but a mere century ago, it was not uncommon to go weeks—even more than a month—without a shampoo session. Nowadays, most people wash their hair at least once a day; an extra sweaty workout can even mean washing twice in a day. So, how did we go from such infrequent washing to this? How often should you wash your hair?
Without getting too distracted discussing the efficacy of modern marketing techniques for shampoo and conditioner companies, advertising was one of the driving forces behind our increase in hair-washing frequency.
At the turn of the 20th century, getting your hair “done” by a professional was the norm. Hairstyles were worn short for women back then, so they would get a wash, a cut, and a style every few weeks.
Once shampoos and conditioners (and 2-in-1 products) became cheaper than a trip to the salon, and were advertised frequently on television, radio, and national magazines, home hair care became the norm. By the 1960s and ‘70s, hairstyles were less complicated—letting it grow out and long was in vogue, removing the need for frequent salon visits.
Soon, washing hair everyday became as commonplace as brushing teeth. The products were cheap and selections abundant, so who wouldn’t want to use them?
And we did use them—lots and lots of hair care products. The global shampoo (and conditioner) market is expected to reach more than $25 billion by 2019.
But is it necessary?
While a lot has changed since the early 1900s, many of us may still be over-washing our hair.
WebMD says the answer is complicated. Depending on your hair type and scalp condition, you may need to wash daily. But shampoos are designed to trap oil, which we actually need for a healthy hair and scalp. Shampoos wash away sebum, which is produced by the hair and scalp, in order to keep hair healthy. The more you get rid of the sebum, the more it may actually lead to dry and damaged hair.
“[The oils] provide moisturizing and a protection barrier for the skin and hair,” Carolyn Goh, MD, assistant clinical professor of medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA told WebMD.
But there’s also the issue of dead skin cells and hair.
“Shedding that dead hair can stimulate new growth,” Dr. George Cotsarelis, director of the Hair and Scalp Clinic at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine told Time. “So for a lot of different reasons, I’m not a fan of going a long time between washes.”
And consider too that if you’ve been washing your hair every day since childhood, your scalp and hair have become conditioned to that frequency, and there’s a chance of over-producing sebum if you start to go longer periods between washing. It can balance out over time, but you may have greasy hair and an itchy scalp if you suddenly drop your washing.
The best bet?
Find a happy medium. Conserving water (and shampoo!) is certainly a worthy reason for decreasing shampooing frequency, and it may be healthy for your scalp to have a break, even if it’s just an extra day or two between washings.
Also, be sure you pay attention to the types of hair care products you’re using. Some synthetic ingredients can be drying and irritating to the scalp. Choose natural and organic shampoos and conditioners rich in plant oils and botanical ingredients that promote healthy hair.