Avoiding Summer Hair Damage

With summer time right around the corner, many people are looking forward to enjoying various warm weather activities, like spending time around pools or at the beach.  Unfortunately, during this time of year it can also be particularly difficult to keep your hair healthy and strong.  Sun, surf, and even “worry-free” hairstyles can all contribute to dryness and breakage, making hair look thin and sparse and making any hair loss you may be experiencing far more noticeable.  While the specialists at The Griffin Center of Hair Restoration and Research are concerned primarily with the many different surgical and non-surgical hair loss treatments, we also believe that it is important to keep our patients fully informed about all aspects of hair care.  Here are some things to look out for this summer if you want to keep your hair looking its best.

Avoiding Summer Hair DamageSun Damage

Most people know that the high-frequency ultraviolent radiation produced by the sun can damage and prematurely age the skin, but fewer are aware that it can do exactly the same thing to your hair.  Ultraviolet radiation from the sun breaks down the bonds that make the keratin of the hair strong, potentially leading to weaker strands and fading color.  The hair, like the skin, is made up of proteins that need moisture to function effectively, but while the skin is able to resupply surface moisture from within, the hair is not, which is why excessive sun exposure can cause dry and brittle hair.  Covering the hair with a hat or leave in conditioner can go a long way towards keeping it shiny and smooth.

Salt Water and Chlorine

Swimming is a common summer activity, but both ocean salt water and chlorine treated pool water can seriously dry out your hair.  Moreover, the anatomy of hair is such that chlorine can cause the shingle-like outer layers of the hair cuticle to start to lift up, exposing the deeper, more delicate layers to even more moisture loss.  One of the easiest ways to avoid this damage is by simply rinsing your hair under clean tap water before you go swimming.  The plain water binds to the hair, effectively reinforcing the outer layers and making it more difficult for chlorine to penetrate.  The American Academy of Dermatology also recommends wearing a swim cap and washing with shampoo and conditioner specifically formulated for swimmers to help replace the moisture that has been lost.

Summer Hairstyles and Color Treatments

In some circles it is fashionable to lighten or streak the hair for the summer season, but this practice can often further exacerbate the drying process.  Much of the hair’s natural oil resides in its pigment, and so if the color is removed the oils that help keep the hair moist get stripped out as well.  Additionally, many of the convenient, low-maintenance hair styles that are popular in the summer, like tight braids, pony tails, and “man-buns” can place an undue amount of stress on individual hair follicles.  In extreme cases, this can result in a form of hair loss known as traction alopecia, where the hair strands are pulled out and the damaged hair follicles produce thinner hair during the next growth cycle.  Fortunately hair loss from traction alopecia is usually only temporary and is easily addressed with a variety of hair loss treatments.

These dangers, when taken separately, are usually only minimal, but when the hair is exposed to all of these environmental factors at once, as is common during the summer months, serious damage can be the result.  If you are experiencing hair loss or thinning, or if you have questions about any of the various hair loss treatments we perform, please feel free to contact Dr. Edmond Griffin or Dr. Ashley Curtis to schedule a hair loss consultation so that we can formulate a treatment plan custom tailored to your specific needs.  Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ to get the latest news in hair restoration and research.