By the end of summer, my hair is damaged. And I don't just mean I see a few split ends here and there. I mean I see split ends everywhere, plus rough texture, visible dullness, and serious breakage. This isn't the result of excessive chemical processing or heat styling; it's the result of summer itself. After months of being out in direct sunlight, swimming in chlorine and salt water, and tossing my hair up in tight styles, my hair doesn't stand a chance.
Apparently, I'm not the only one who struggles with post-summer hair damage. According to Unite ambassador and celebrity hairstylist Graham Nation, it's a common concern. "Summer is the driest season we have, so there is less moisture in the air and in our hair. Pools that have chlorine and chemicals can damage hair and color, while salt water can do the same. Basically, everything fun that we like to do in the summer can cause dry and damaged hair."
Tom Smith, celebrity hairstylist and international colour creative director for Evo hair, agrees. "Increased daylight hours mean more exposure to sunlight," he says. "Just as our skin can more easily get tan or burnt, our hair is affected too. Add to this summer holidays, where hair is subjected to salt or chlorinated water and often left to air-dry without being detangled, and it’s no surprise our hair can need a little extra TLC as the summer season draws to a close."
Celebrity hairstylist Clariss Rubenstein seconds this, adding that "the mechanical damage from throwing hair up into ponytails and topknots constantly" can also contribute to "dryness, damage, and breakage." So, yeah, there's no relief from summer hair damage.
When his clients return to the salon after summer, Smith says it's usually a color change he notices first. "Some lucky ones return with hair that looks summery and brightened, while others (particularly those who wear their hair darker) may have orange or brassy tones that need correcting, or they have a loss of definition and shine. The hair will also usually feel dry and rougher to the touch, as its normal moisture levels have been depleted; split ends are more common than usual. It may also have been longer since their last appointment due to summer travels, and so this only exacerbates the effects," he says.
So, what can you (and I) do? It's simple. Just incorporate the right restorative products into your haircare routine. Keep scrolling to see the five products hairstylists recommend for saving post-summer strands. Plus, see my favorite recommendations.
The 5 Best Haircare Products to Reverse Summer-Induced Damage
“My best tip for repairing summer hair is to add a masque into your weekly routine," Nation says. Reach for this one. "It’s hydrating for the winter months and will repair damage through the summer months. It’s a one-stop shop for healthy hair year-round."
For a more complete routine, Nation recommends incorporating Re:Unite Shampoo ($20), Conditioner ($29), and Treatment ($38). "This will repair your hair year-round, leaving your main beautiful, hydrated, and shiny," he says.
Smith also recommends reaching for a hair mask. He loves this one from Evo for a "massive surge of moisture." Along with much-needed moisture, it will make your hair softer, shinier, and more manageable.
If you're like me and your hair looks dull and drab after the summer, Smith suggests reaching for these Shine Drops. He says they add a finishing touch of shine to any style or cut.
Smith also recommends this iconic at-home product in conjunction with salon-strength treatments. "If the longest parts of your hair are noticeably thinner than the rest, this likely means you have experienced breakage, and no amount of treatment and TLC will return those broken hairs," Smith explains. "A healthy haircut is the best way to go and set good habits ahead (such as a great home haircare regimen including Olaplex No.3 and Evo moisture or protein treatments to ensure the damage doesn't happen again).
"Mask, mask, mask," Rubenstein says. "Make sure you have at least one mask in your regular rotation. I would replace my conditioner with a mask every other shampoo if my hair had really suffered a lot of summer damage."
She recommends this one from Monat, which is "great for rehabilitating thrashed summer hair. It strengthens and repairs damaged hair noticeably in one treatment. After-shower care is just as important as in-shower care for damaged hair. To follow the mask, Monat Damage Repair Bond-Fortifying Hair Leave-In Crème ($42) is incredible for damaged hair." She recommends applying it to clean, damp hair and styling it or letting it air-dry. "It protects, strengthens, nourishes, and hydrates—not to mention makes hair more manageable and smells like a dream."
It's worth noting that if your summer damage is particularly severe, there's no better option than a haircut. This will remove the damage and help your hair grow out to be softer, shinier, and healthier. "Depending on your hair type and if you get highlights or not, I recommend getting a haircut every two to six months," Nation says. "If you are a six-month-er, plan one haircut at the end of summer and another toward the end of February to make sure you are trimming right after the most damaging months."
Shop 10 More Reparative Hair Products We Love
Usually, I rely on intense moisturizing masks to care for my dry hair rather than humble conditioners, but this one is an exception. It makes my hair feel equally as soft and hydrated. Plus, it smells amazing. Seriously, use this, and you'll feel like you're wearing hair perfume.
This iconic hair mask is loved by beauty editors everywhere. It strengthens damaged hair and (get this!) actually helps prevent future damage.
Even though this product is a two-in-one hair-and-scalp serum, I tend to use it only for the latter. There's just something about it that makes my scalp feel calm, cool, and comfortable. I always reach for it when my scalp gets dry and irritated.