Sure you’ve been dying for summer to hurry up and get here, but the extra hours outdoors can actually be troublesome for your hair color. “We’re just generally harder on our hair in the summer,” says Redken celebrity stylist Rachel Bodt. “Sun exposure and elements like chlorine and saltwater make color fade,” she says. As a bonafide blonde (OK, out of a bottle), I need all the tips I can get to make sure my color lasts through the season. To that end, I checked in with Bodt as well as celebrity colorist Rita Hazan to weigh in on what to use, what to skip, and the products to pick.
1. Treat your hair about a week before your color appointment. Interested in the rainbow trend? I don’t blame you. But before you even think of stepping foot in a salon, make sure to get a hydrating treatment. “Color holds better to healthier hair,” Hazan tells SELF. Bodt recommends that her clients do an Olaplex treatment (available at salons only) one to two weeks before coloring, and every week thereafter to keep hair in tip-top shape. A more affordable, DIY alternative? “Coconut oil helps seal the cuticle and has a slew of reparative benefits, too,” says Bodt.
2. Make sure your stylist is using the healthiest technique for your hair type. This tip is especially important if you haven’t gotten dyed before. There’s a litany of color options and techniques, so make sure you get schooled on what’s what. And you also have to consider how the process is affected by the summer weather. For example, Hazan says that getting foil highlights may be a better choice over balayage (a hair painting method). “The foils [used in highlights] help speed up the process so you don’t have to use as high of a volume of peroxide as you would with balayage,” Hazan says. She also notes that single process and vegetable dyes tend to be the least harsh on hair.
3. Invest in a shower filter. The shower filters are usually stashed somewhere in the hair tools section. They aren’t cheap, but this is one product worth ponying up for if you color your hair regularly. “I’m a huge fan of shower purifiers,” Bodt says. “When I first moved into my building, I had horrible build-up [on my hair], and it was getting darker by the second. I recommend it to all my clients.” Hazan agrees, “The minerals in water can actually change your hair color—it’s either going to be too green or too orange, and filters help.” I played around with the T3 Source Showerhead Filter ($130, ulta.com) and found there to be far less buildup in my generally greasy blonde strands.
4. Make sure your shampoo and conditioner are labeled “for color-treated hair.” This isn’t just marketing BS, guys—the right shampoo and conditioner combo can extend the life of your color by weeks. “Always use a shampoo and conditioner for color-treated hair,” Hazan says. “Stay away from clarifying shampoos because the sun and beach are already depleting. You don’t need anything else stripping your hair.” Plus, color-protective formulas are free of parabens and sulfates, two common shampoo ingredients that strip strands. Bodt loves shade-specific products, like Redken’s color-depositing conditioner in violet (salons only), which cancels out brassy yellows in blondes.
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5. Finish your shower with a cool blast. Good news: Not only is your cold summer shower refreshing AF, but it’s also doing a solid for your hair. “If you can do a cool rinse, go for it—this seals the cuticle, which prevents both damage and color breakdown,” Bodt says.
6. Top things off with a clear glaze—at home or at the salon. “Glosses protect hair color from fading and make strands shiny,” says Hazan. At-home versions, like Hazan’s Ultimate Shine Color Gloss ($26, sephora.com), add moisture and shine, extending the life of whatever type of dye you’ve gone for.
7. Use styling products that have built-in UV protection or SPF. Just like your skin, your hair and scalp need some solid SPF to prevent dullness and breakage. “Hair gets drier in the summer because it’s more exposed to the elements,” says Hazan. “Apply products with SPF and UV protection a few times while in the sun, especially after swimming.” I’ve been using StriVectin Hair UV Protective Spray ($29, ulta.com) when my hair is dry, and reaching for Nios Shield Whipped Hair Gel SPF 15 ($22,amazon.com) after a swim to keep frizzies at bay. If you don’t feel like springing for a new product, don’t sweat it. Instead, just put sunscreen in a spray bottle and mist into your hair and onto your scalp.
8. Speaking of swimming, prep strands for the pool accordingly. Chlorine can totally mess up hair color—and actually turn blonde hair green. But bottle redheads and brunettes should be cautious as well. “It can also change the color if your hair is dry or porous,” Bodt says. You can coat the hair in coconut oil before you dive in to protect it (think how a duck’s feathers repel water). Or, Hazan recommends a rinse with spring water. Personally, I love Philip Kinglsey Swimcap Cream ($38, netaporter.com) to keep my blonde hair from getting grassy.
9. And rinse chlorine out quickly. Even if you make like a duck and have totally water-repellent strands, a bit of chlorine will inevitably sneak in. Make sure to rinse ASAP. If needed, use the good ole classic Ultraswim Moisturizing Shampoo ($4,walmart.com) to get all the pool chemicals out of your hair.
10. #TreatYoSelf to a weekly deep conditioner. Because summer hair tends to get battered and bruised (especially after long outdoor days or grueling training runs), the best remedy is a deep conditioner. Treat your hair once a week to minimize breakage, increase hair’s porosity, and add shine. There are zillions out there, so pick something that’s catered to your hair type. And in a pinch, you can use coconut oil, of course.