“WEATHERED” AND “DISTRESSED”
may be good words for shabby-chic beach furniture but not for end-of-summer hair. As the season winds down, your locks have been exposed to, and therefore damaged by, sun, chlorine and salt water.
To revive summer-fried hair and prepare it for the cooler weather to come, I sought out two of my fave local beauty gurus for their best advice: Dr. Elizabeth L. Tanzi, co-director of the Washington Institute of Dermatologic Laser Surgery; and stylist-colorist Jean-Paul Mardoian, owner of the eponymous Northwest salon, who’s so old-school about media that he doesn’t have, or need, a website. This hair god is so under-the-radar that he doesn’t even have a head shot. You’ll just have to trust me on his mad skills.
Later on, I’ll share my pet products that’ll help restore your summered mane to its lustrous finest in no time flat. But right now, to my questions.
Gigi Anders: Can hair get sunburned? What are the effects of summer sun on hair, and is it worse than winter sun?
Elizabeth L. Tanzi: No, hair can’t get sunburned, but if it’s colored or processed, its color can fade from ultraviolet light exposure. Also, a lot of the things we do to hair in the summer–exposing it to salt water, chlorine, wind, [pulling it back into] ponytails–can cause it to get damaged, become brittle and increase the risk of breakage.
Jean-Paul Mardoian: It depends on your lifestyle, obviously. How much you’re outdoors. An hour is not going to affect much. But if you’re playing or exercising outside several days a week, it will absolutely impact the hair.
GA: Are certain hair types more susceptible to sun damage?
ELT: Hair that has been processed is at greater risk.
JPM: Sun distorts the color of natural hair–think of little kids at the beach–as well as adults’ color-treated hair. If your colorist uses bleach or ammonia-based products for highlights, that can destroy the texture too. It sucks the moisture out of the hair, especially as you age, and it fades and gets dark. And the length of the hair plays an unbelievably huge role. In terms of damage, long hair changes everything.
GA: Besides spending the rest of August in a straw hat, how can we protect our hair?
ELT: Covering processed hair is definitely the thing to do. Otherwise, a drop of protective oil on the ends in the morning is helpful. I love Kérastase Elixir Ultime. Keep it away from the scalp, which produces more oil in the summer.
JPM: Especially if you have a designer haircut and color, you want to maintain your investment. Which shampoos and conditioners are you using? Good botanicals are best. What kind of hairbrush? To bring out the shine, I only use ones with natural–not plastic or metal–bristles, like Mason Pearson. Do you blow-dry your hair with a nozzle attachment so you’re not burning it and making it fly away? All those daily details also make an enormous difference in helping the color last, and maintaining the hair’s overall quality and sheen.
ELT: Direct heat from a blow-dryer can be much worse [than sunshine].
GA: Does the sun affect the scalp and its health?
ELT: Many men and women mistakenly think their hair is protecting their scalp. But hair thins with age on both men and women, so sun damage can happen to the top of the scalp.
JPM: Scalp condition is very important to healthy hair. Avoid alcohol or similar agents in products, which can exacerbate both dryness and oiliness.
ELT: To test if you are at risk of scalp damage and subsequent skin cancer, stand under a light while looking in a mirror. If you can see any part of the scalp–it may appear shiny–then the sun is hitting it, which causes a lot of damage.
GA: Any other thoughts on rebuilding freaked-out summer hair?
ELT: I would recommend babying hair if you spend a lot of time in salt water or chlorine, using a daily application of protective oil, and maybe doing a weekly hydrating mask.
JPM: Hair changes just like skin does. Some natural hair is more damaged than colored hair. Either way, once a week in the evening, use a clarifying shampoo to get rid of product build-up, then gently squeeze out all the excess water, and use plenty of deep conditioner from scalp to roots. Don’t rinse. Wrap your hair in a shower cap or towel, and go to sleep with it. In the morning, just rinse it out and towel-dry it. Then use a protein spray to feed and protect the hair, like a sunscreen, and distribute it evenly with a comb before you go in the water or you blow-dry.
Now for the botanical goodies. These are all the best there is.
Shampoo and Conditioner in One:
Hair and Body Repair in One:
Olivine love + salt Mist ($24).
Deep Conditioners and Masks:
Valmont Recovering Mask ($135. Practically a bargain when you read what’s below.)
Valmont Hair & Scalp Cellular Treatment ($595. No, that’s not a typo. But the set lasts for a whole year. That’s about $50 a month. You would spend more at Starbucks.)