Studies show that our hair is 56 percent weaker when wet, making summer hair especially vulnerable to dryness, breakage, and thinning when we’re swimming and showering more.
But these minor tweaks to the way we handle wet hair will ensure voluminous locks all season:
Dodge dryness with a ‘pre-shampoo’.
Over-wetting hair can cause hygral fatigue (the cuticle expands with moisture, then contracts), an effect that dries out strands.
The fix: Prep hair with coconut oil before wetting it. “The oil’s fatty acids create a protective layer over hair that limits water absorption, reducing that cuticle swelling,” says Monica Martinez-Eriksen, a hairstylist with hair restoration experts HairClub.
Just apply a dollop of coconut oil to dry hair before showering (or swimming). “Then wash hair at the end of the shower to cut down on the time it’s wet.”
Banish breakage with a T-shirt ‘turban’.
Rubbing wet hair with the harsh grooves of a terry cloth towel roughs up the cuticle, leading to breakage, says Martinez-Eriksen.
Instead, she suggests swapping a towel for a cotton T-shirt. “The soft yet absorbent material wicks away moisture to speed drying time without pulling at strands or altering hair’s cuticle.”
Simply use the tee to gently squeeze moisture from hair, working from roots to ends. Then slip hair through the neck opening of the tee, twist it up turban-style, and let it sit atop the head for 10 minutes.
Sidestep thinning with this technique.
Raking a brush through knotty, damp hair not only hurts, but the snags aggressively tug on hair follicles and result in shedding or permanent hair loss.
But there is a way to smooth out strands with less harm. “Brushing in small increments of hair while working from bottom to top prevents that tension from reaching the scalp,” says Martinez-Eriksen. “This reduces pulling and damage for fuller-looking hair.”
To do: First, opt for a brush with flexible silicone bristles like Tangle Teezer Ultimate Vented Hairbrush ($16, Ulta). “The malleable bristles bend with your hair with every stroke to prevent tugging.”
Then separate hair into four equal sections. Hold the first section of hair in your hand 3″ above the ends; brush the free hair below it in downward strokes until it passes through snag-free. Move your hand up another 3″ and repeat. Continue up to roots; repeat on remaining sections.
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This story originally appeared in our print magazine.