How to Take Care of Long Hair in Summer: Tried-and-Tested Tips for Healthy Hair in Summer

Fact checked by Megan Soliman MD, MSc
Board-certified physician at Saba University School of Medicine

As the days get hotter, we spend more time out in the sun. You may know how important it is to protect your skin from UV radiation, but what about your hair? All these summer picnics, beach holidays, and relaxing days lounging around by the pool can take a toll on your hair, making it dry and frizzy. So what can you do to protect your hair from the sun?

Keep on reading to find out how to care for your long hair during the summer months to keep it healthy and shiny.

How the summer affects your hair

If your easily-managed and shiny hair becomes coarse and brittle once the summer rolls around, the heat and strong sun rays may be to blame. Just as the sun can damage your skin, it can affect your hair as well. Knowing how to manage your long hair in summer helps you keep it looking good throughout the season.

Your hair may appear a little bit lighter in summer, especially if you have fine or colored hair. This happens because the UV rays penetrate your hair cuticles and break down the pigment in your hair, causing it to fade. Although you may like these natural highlights, leaving your mane exposed to the sun for too long can dry it out and make it more prone to breakage, frizz, and tangling.

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The sun isn’t the only thing that can damage your locks in summer. Salt water and chlorine from the pool can also strip your hair of moisture and protective oils leaving it brittle and stiff. The heat and humidity can also make your hair look limp, and lifeless. The high moisture content in the air can weigh it down and make it look flat, especially if you have fine hair. In high humidity, you also tend to sweat more, which can lead to greasy-looking hair too.

Your hair isn’t the only thing that needs looking after during summer. The sun and the heat can be harsh on your scalp too — it can even get sunburned! A dry scalp, sweat, seawater, and pool chemicals can damage the roots of your hair, trigger dandruff, and increase hair loss.

A close-up of wet beachy hair in the sun

Does your hair grow faster in summer?

Do you think you need to trim your hair more often in summer? Well, higher temperatures have something to do with it, at least in part.

The hot weather alone doesn’t make your hair grow faster, but the increased blood circulation can.

Since you may be more active when it’s warm outside, your increased physical activity can boost blood circulation and have an overall positive effect on your body, which can stimulate hair growth. Although there isn’t a lot of research on the subject, a 1991 study by the National Institute of Health supports the idea that warmer weather can encourage hair growth.

That being said, don’t just wait for summer to grow out an unflattering haircut. Proper nutrition is essential for healthy hair in any season. A balanced diet — packed with omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, and biotin-rich foods — can help you maintain your luscious locks all year round.

How to care for long hair in summer

Having too many bad hair days during a heatwave? Find out how to take proper care of your long hair in the heat and keep it shiny and healthy during the summer months.

1. Protect your hair from the sun

Although you may like the look of sunkissed, beachy locks in summer, the sun can dry out and damage your hair. Cover your head when you’re out in the sun — a hat can protect your scalp, neck, and ears from UV rays and reduce wind damage and hair tangling.

You can also use special hair products with UV filters that can protect your hair from sun damage. They can come in various forms — gels, creams, sprays, and even shampoos. Alternatively, you can run your hands through your hair after applying sunscreen to your body.

2. Hydrate your hair

Staying hydrated is the first step to healthy skin and hair in summer. Since your hair tends to be drier when it’s exposed to the harsh summer sun, it may need a bit more help to retain moisture. Deep conditioning treatments are one way to keep your locks shiny and hydrated in summer, but try not to be overly enthusiastic with them — most deep conditioners are not designed for daily use, so they can leave your hair looking greasy and limp. We recommend using a conditioning treatment once or twice a week, depending on how dry your hair is.

Switching up your shampoo can also help.

Look for hydrating ingredients like aloe or coconut oil. Avoid washing your hair too often and let it air dry as much as possible — excessive washing can strip your hair of its natural oils and using heating tools can further dry it out. You may try no-heat styling methods like keeping your damp hair in braids for the night for a wavy, beachy look.

A woman applying UV spray to protect her hair from the sun

3. Prevent water damage

Salty seawater and chlorine in swimming pools can also make your hair dry and crunchy. Try to keep your hair out of the water when swimming — a swimming cap can help. If they’re not your style, saturate your locks with water and an eco-friendly leave-in conditioner before taking a dip. This will stop them from absorbing as much saltwater or chemicals. Rinsing your hair after a swim also helps. If you can’t get to a shower, bring a spray bottle with clean water with you and give your hair a proper wash once you get home.

4. Control the frizz

Keeping your hair healthy and moisturized is the best way to control the frizz. The easiest thing you can do is swap your shampoo and conditioner for more hydrating ones. If that’s not cutting it for you, add special oils and serums to your hair care routine to deeply condition and smooth out your hair.

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If you usually wear your hair down, the summer months can be the time for you to change it up a bit. Tying your hair up can help prevent wind damage, control the frizz, and reduce sweating. Try your hand at different hairstyles — from braids and ponytails to updos and buns — to keep your hair well-maintained and frizz-free in summer. Avoid pulling your hair too tightly as it can cause breakage.

5. Bring back the shine

If your hair looks lackluster in summer, try a few home remedies to bring back the shine. Rinse it with diluted apple cider vinegar or beer after washing to smooth it out and add shine. If you have coarse or curly hair, apply some coconut oil or shea butter to wet or dry hair to nourish, de-frizz, and keep it soft and smooth — but be careful, too much oil can weigh your hair down and make it look greasy.

You can also do a natural nourishing treatment once a week, for example, an egg mask:

  1. Mix 2 eggs with 2 tablespoons of coconut or olive oil and half a cup of yogurt or honey.
  2. Apply the mixture to wet hair and gently massage it on your hair and scalp.
  3. Leave it on for 30 minutes, then rinse with cold water, and shampoo as usual.

The proteins and fatty acids in eggs help promote shine, nourish and improve the overall health of your hair.

Final thoughts

Your hair may get more brittle, and frizzy in summer. The sun, salt water, and chlorine can dry out your locks and make them more prone to breakage and hard to manage. Protecting your hair from the sun and keeping it nourished and hydrated are key to maintaining your long hair during the summer months. Use a more moisturizing shampoo and try a deep conditioning treatment once or twice a week to prevent split ends and reduce frizz. Wear a hat or cover your head with a scarf when you spend a day out in the sun and use hair products with UV protection.

September 7, 2022