When you are headed to the beach, it is crucial that you take the necessary precautions to protect your skin and hair so that you don’t cap the day off with painful sunburns and brittle locks of hair.
Many of us already know to wear sunscreen, especially after getting burned the first time. What people are less inclined to do is protect their hair from the salt in seawater.
You might be wondering: what’s so bad about saltwater? Isn’t salt supposed to be beneficial? While there are some hair and skin benefits it provides in small doses, the dose makes the poison.
It is crucial that you not only rinse it off after your beach session, but that you actively take preventative steps to protect your hair from salt damage.
If you leave saltwater in your hair overnight, it can dry out and discolor your hair. You are recommended to thoroughly rinse your hair with freshwater after swimming to rinse off all the salt and to moisturize your hair.
Keep reading on to learn how overexposure to salt water can damage your hair as well as the steps you can take to limit hair damage caused by salt.
How saltwater affects your hair
Many people love what saltwater does for their hair: it can get rid of excess oil, reduce dandruff, and make hair look wavy and voluminous. In moderation, salt has many benefits for hair.
However, issues arise when your hair is exposed to salt for too long, and you definitely should not leave it on overnight. Don’t be lazy, shower before you sleep!
You may know that salt is a desiccant, meaning it absorbs water from its surroundings. It’s why if you’ve eaten a particularly salty dish, you feel extremely thirsty afterwards.
Now, let’s talk about hair for a moment. Your hair has moisture inside of it; that’s what makes it stretchy, elastic, and vibrant. Just like your skin, it can be dehydrated if it is exposed to the sun and saltwater for a prolonged period of time.
Imagine spending all day at the beach and neglecting your hair. All of the moisture will be lost via sun and salt exposure, and your hair will look dry, dull, and tangled up.
It will feel rough to the touch but in actuality is now very brittle; trying to untangle it with a comb can cause a lot of damage to your hair at this time.
When your hair becomes too dry, it will cause the ends of hair to split and breakage will begin. That is why you must take preventative steps to ensure your hair stays moisturized throughout your beach trip.
In the next section, I will go over steps you should take both before and after swimming at the beach to protect your hair from salt damage.
How to protect your hair from saltwater damage
Rinse your hair before and after heading into the water
If you also swim at public pools, then you most likely already have a habit of showering before and after. Interestingly enough, chlorine can cause similar side effects to your hair as salt. Well, that’s why it’s a good idea when you’re at the beach too.
When you shower, you are saturating your hair with freshwater. This means that your hair has more water content than usual, so you have a larger buffer of water that can keep your hair moisturized for longer before it completely dries out.
You must also shower afterwards to simultaneously wash off the salt in your hair and replenish the moisture lost while swimming. This step alone can do wonders for limiting hair damage caused by salt, especially if you can’t spare the money for various other hair products.
Use leave-in conditioner
If you’re spending many hours at the beach, then rinsing your hair with freshwater may not be enough. To bolster your hair’s defenses against dehydration, leave-in conditioner is a must to keep hair moist and soft.
Look for a spray formula that you can keep handy in your beach bag for easy re-application throughout the day. You can also use leave-in conditioner creams as well, but I find sprays to be much more convenient to apply.
Apply hair oil
In a similar vein to conditioner, you can coat your hair with natural hair oils to simultaneously moisturize it and add an extra layer of protection against saltwater damage.
Wear a swim cap
If you want yet another layer of protection, consider doing all of the above and wearing a swim cap on top of that.
Now, if you know what a swim cap’s true purpose is, you know it’s not to keep your hair dry (it’s to reduce drag underwater).
However, even though swim caps are not totally waterproof, they can drastically limit how much water can reach your hair.
If you have long hair, tie your hair up in a bun first to make it easier to pull the cap over your head.
With a swim cap on, you’ll find that water cannot reach the top of your head, but can kind of creep in along the sides. This can prevent the majority of your hair from even touching saltwater, therefore limiting the amount of damage it can do.