Making waves

There’s more to summer hair than attempting bafflingly elusive sea salt waves, writes Rachel Ramsay 

Words Rachel Ramsay. Photography Sara Orme.

Shimmering, honey-hued highlights and beach-tousled locks feature prominently in the hair fantasy that forms in my imagination as the weather heats up. But with a legendary Kiwi summer comes soaring humidity levels and the harshest UV rays the planet has to offer. As such, summer creates a particularly inhospitable setting for easy, breezy hair. That’s no reason not to seek it though, says Vada Hair’s Guy Roberts.

“Our philosophy has always been that your hair should merge easily into life’s flow,” he says. “With summer’s hot, humid air, it’s definitely time to abandon the perfect sleek looks and embrace loose, natural styles.”

He emphasises, though, that despite his recommendation to “work with – rather than against – natural elements”, warm-weather hair precautions remain key. Owner of salon Ryder, Greg Murrell agrees.

“Our hair is made from keratin proteins, just like our skin,” Murrell says. “So it’s far from immune to the ravaging effects of sun exposure.”

But it’s not only the UV rays that take their toll on tresses – chlorine and sea water breed their own set of follicular injustices. Blondes have it particularly hard, no matter the swim setting: on the pool side, oxidised metals in chlorine bind to the protein in the hair shaft and deposit a green tint. At the beach, exposure to salt water exposes the underlying golden pigment in blonde colour, creating a brassy effect.

The steps to preventing either situation are three-fold – and apply to all hair colours. If you didn’t already do it pre-sun, do it for pre-water: hair protectant, applied with a generous hand. Lest a spontaneous swim be on the cards and your handbag be devoid of such a protectant, grab your water bottle and pour its contents over your head instead, recommends Roberts.

“Hair that is saturated before swimming won’t absorb as much salt water or pool chemical,” he explains. “Rinsing hair both before and immediately after swimming will lessen the effects.”

Summer is the time we should resolve to give our hair its most serious TLC. – Greg Murrell 

Overall, Murrell tells me, summer is the time we should resolve to give our hair its most serious TLC. “Committing to a regular haircut programme with your hairdresser will keep your hair in optimum condition,” he says. Weekly masque application will also work wonders, he adds – but only if the ends of the hair are cut frequently. 

If you don’t have one already, adds Roberts, invest in a wide tooth comb (minimum snagging), wash less (unless, as discussed, you’re swimming lots) and if you can bring yourself to, give your straighteners the summer off: “Trying to achieve sleek hair in summer only shows the frizz more. Choose styles that are thrown together with little styling product, minimal fuss and zero hot tools,” he says. 

Hair care at home 

· Instead of dry shampoo, apply sprinklings of corn starch at the roots and work in with finger tips.   

· Instead of a control spray, combine one teaspoon of avocado oil, one teaspoon of aloe vera juice and one cup of water in a spray bottle and spritz when you need control and moisture. 

· Instead of beach spray, combine one teaspoon of coconut oil with one teaspoon of sea salt and one cup of water in a spray bottle. 

Make your hair products work harder 

When you’re shelling out $30 (plus) for shampoo, you want to be sure you’re getting your money’s worth. 

· Avoid piping hot water, which has a drying effect on strands.

· Apply shampoo to the scalp and upper half only.

· Squeeze excess water from the lengths before conditioning to let the product absorb more deeply. 

· Never condition your roots – it’ll only bring your next wash forward. 

Go-to dos for your hair type 

Wavy hair 

A cleverly structured loose side braid keeps waves under control while still oozing carefree appeal. If you’re working with clean hair, spritz with a beach spray to give strands extra grip – try blasting Eleven’s Sea Salt Texture Spray, $32, directly onto mid-lengths and ends pre-plait.

Straight hair 

Roberts recommends a chic messy bun. A higher knot for a younger look, or a low-riding option for a pulled-together alternative. A little product applied pre-bun keeps it tidy – use a texturiser for grit (try Kevin.Murphy’s Powder Puff, $49, or a shine spray (Eleven Smooth & Shine Anti-Frizz Serum, $34) for extra sheen.

Curly hair

“Opt for a lived-in, natural-curl look with lots of volume,” recommends Roberts. Resist towel-drying your hair; instead, gently wrap the towel around sections bit by bit. Then, twirl a serum through the lengths – try Davines More Inside This is a Curl Building Serum, $44 – and don’t touch again until it has dried. If things are humid, spray Argania Liquid Hair Gold, $35, into your palm to gently scrunch in. Avoid finger-combing your hair – this break the curls and causes frizz. 

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