Heatwave-proof your hair for the holidays

From at home treatments and tricks to the in-salon big guns, consider this your one-stop shop for smooth and shiny summer hair. 

Summer gives new meaning to the term ‘hot mess’ when it comes to hair — usually resulting in frizzy, sweaty strands, dryness and breakage. But you can avoid the salty, dehydrated aftermath of ocean swims, a sunburnt scalp, colour fade and heat damage by getting a head start on your hair care before the season reaches its peak.

From seasonal-friendly formulations and innovative tools, to the latest restorative and humidity-fighting treatments, we’ve got your hot-weather hair-rescue toolkit at the ready to keep your strands smooth, shiny and strong all summer long…

How to protect and hydrate your hair

The first step is to try to prevent damage so you have nothing to fix in the first place. So no matter your hair type, protection should be your priority.

For men, your scalp is more exposed, so a UV guard like sunscreen or a hat is essential. Thin-hair types are more sensitive and likely to suffer more damage, whereas thick hair is generally drier and curly hair types will have more frizz, but all can benefit from simply upping hydration.

“Salt water and chlorine are both powerful oxidising agents, add intense sun exposure and it’s a recipe for damage,” explains Andrew Wilson, Hair Loss director at Transitions Hair.

Before swimming, he recommends ‘pre-filling’ your hair with a leave-in conditioner or serum. “Hair is like a sponge, [so by applying a hydrating topical first], your hair will absorb less of the chlorinated or salty water, thus preserving your hair quality,” he says.

So, what causes hair frizz in summer?

The most common summertime hair dilemma is frizz, and unless you’ve never put a hot tool to your hair, tied it with an elastic or dyed it, very few will escape it.

“Frizz occurs when the external layer of hair, the cuticle, is damaged,” explains Wilson. “Think of it like roof tiles on a house, designed to keep the water and other elements out. If the cuticle is damaged, much like missing or raised roof tiles, it lets moisture in, causing the hair to swell and resulting in frizz.”

Anything damaging chips away at the protective layer, leaving the inner cortex exposed and separated from the strand, resulting in split ends and breakage. “This is why so much is invested in conditioners that attempt to close down the cuticle and make it smooth again,” says Wilson.

The outer layer of hair is mostly made up of the protein keratin, which keeps strands strong. Look for treatments that infuse protein back into your hair and be sure to always apply a heat protectant before using hot styling tools — a simple spray can save you from a tonne of future damage.

Another way to keep that outer layer strong is to make sure your hair stays hydrated. Up your hair hydration levels by choosing a moisturising shampoo and conditioner. It’s also a good idea to use a smoothing product that doubles as a styler, so look for products with descriptors like ‘anti-frizz’ on the label.

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Watch out for silicone

Noticed your hair has become dull, limp and lacking shine? While this is usually thought to be a result of your diet, you may be surprised to learn that it may be one of your regular hair products playing havoc with your hair. Silicone — long lauded as the go-to ingredient for its ability to add instant shine and smoothness to strands — is no longer the gold standard. In fact, it’s the opposite.

“Over time, this cosmetic mineral basically waterproofs each strand, suffocating the hair and preventing nutrients from penetrating through its barrier. It also works as a magnet to attract dirt and pollution, and progressively makes the hair look dull and feel dry as a consequence,” explains Que Colour creative director Taylah Jones.

“I can determine a silicone build-up as soon as I put my fingers through a client’s hair. The first product I grab off the shelf is a detoxifying, cleansing scrub with sea salt to gently remove the build-up.”

At home, opt for products that are free from silicones and use a clarifying shampoo as well as a scalp scrub once a week to limit build-up.

Turn to texture

Treatments and topicals aside, your haircut can also play a major role in a smooth finish.

“Although it widely depends on how much your hair is affected by heat, or more to the point, the humidity, if you struggle with frizz, then a cut that has layers or is more textured is a great way to deal with the heat,” says Bondi Boost ambassador and stylist Max May. “[A layered cut] makes the frizz work for you by blending it into your style through waves and undone texture.”

RAW salon owner Anthony Nader agrees. “My biggest tip with your summer cut is to make sure you ask your hairstylist for loads of texture as you want your hair to move around and adjust to the humidity,” he explains. “By adding interior texture, you can still have length, but the heaviness on the inside is lightened up so it has more bounce and movement. The added bonus when adding more texture is that you can play around with the styling more. Go for sharper, cleaner edges and avoid thinning razors as they can make your ends appear frail and wispy.”

Split ends also travel up the hair, so be sure to have regular trims every six to eight weeks if you’re prone to damage, to avoid chopping off more than you want to.

How to care for your colour

The biggest culprits that cause your colour to fade are hard water and the sun. Colour care starts with simple protection in the form of a hat in addition to an at-home line-up of colour-protective washes and shade-enhancing treatments.

Pair these with a weekly strengthening treatment to restore nutrients such as amino acids and keratin into your hair, which rebuild and repair chemical damage so your hair holds on to colour for longer.

When it comes to summer’s biggest colour trends, balayage is out and ‘Scandi hairline’ is in. Coined by Que Colour founder Monique McMahon, it’s achieved by bleaching or shifting the strands around your hairline one to two shades lighter than the rest of your hair. Ask your colourist to sprinkle a few lighter foils around your face and part line for a natural, sun kissed finish.

Other highly requested shades include mousy browns, walnuts, creamy caramels and milky latte tones. High-shine and glossy finishes are big, but be sure to also ask for colours that enhance your natural shade and build shine.

In-salon treatments for sleek summer strands

For an extra protective boost, head to your local salon and add a professional treatment to your pre-styling wash. Here are two of the newest treatments taking aim at unruly locks…

Goldwell Kerasilk Smoothing Treatment (from $250 at Goldwell)

Think of this as the modern version of chemical straightening. But, without dousing your hair in said chemicals, this good-for-your-strands salon service works to tame frizz.

Instead of straightening, the technology focuses on shaping your hair’s structure using keratin bonds that evenly smooth the hair’s surface for a silky finish without losing volume.

It’s ideal for frizzy, unmanageable hair types or those who want to relax their hairs texture for the summer months. Results last around three to five months.

Christophe Robin Hair Facial (from $55 at Quecolour)

French celebrity colourist Christophe Robin has developed a customisable treatment to meet your specific hair care needs. Think of this treatment as a seasonal reset for your hair and scalp.

The four-step process follows a French approach to caring for hair, fusing the rules of skin care with hair care. The tailored treatment focuses on your specific needs, whether it’s detoxifying and refreshing your strands for a new colour, nourishing a dry, flaky scalp or prepping your hair for summer’s heat and UV exposure.

Top tips for a healthier mane

#1. Take the temperature down

Use cooler water when washing your hair. Not only will it tame frizz and add shine, it’ll also keep dehydration at bay

#2. Diffuse the situation

Popping a diffuser on the end of your hairdryer limits the amount of air being blown directly on to your hair – the more air, the less control you have and the more likely you’ll end up with frizz

Your top 5 at-home rescue remedies

The following trending products and tools will get your mane under control. Add these to your shopping list this summer.

Davroe Luxe Leave-In Masque ($24.95 at Davroe)

This leave-in moisturising treatment acts as a UV protector in addition to providing a barrier against damage — and it’s vegan, too!

Christophe Robin No Frizz Anti-Frizz Rescue Milk ($52 at Sephora)

Style your hair and fight frizz at the same time by hydrating your hair with this shea butter-infused rescue milk.

Inverse Hair Conditioning System ($229 at Nourished Life)

It looks like a straightener, but this tool actually uses sub-zero temperatures to restore dry and damaged hair.

WetBrush Pro Organic Swirl ($23.95 at Adore Beauty)

The unique bristles of this hairbrush glide through wet and dry hair, minimising breakage by 45 per cent.

Tricolab Hair Detox Organic Tea ($29.95 at Trico-Lab)

Packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that are said to help reduce hair breakage, improve elasticity and even amp up shine.